Introduction: Soda Can Survival Stove

About: I'm Mike, from The Geek Pub. I'm a maker. I love to make things. from woodworking to electronics. Follow along with me!

If the zombie apocalypse ever happens we're in for some fun (or not depending on how you fair!). But one this is for sure: Survival will not be easy. Most people think the zombies, walkers, biters, whatever you call them will be the hardest part to survive. But honestly, for those who escape the initial outbreak, its clean water and un-tainted food that will be key.

Starting a fire indoors with logs, books, or paper is a great way to burn your house down or die of smoke inhalation. And we all know that at outdoor fire attracts the walkers. Rick Grimes told us so. What you need is a small, portable stove than can be powered by any alcohol. You'll be able to boil your water and cook your food indoors or out safely avoiding those biters!

Step 1: Watch the Video!

Before you attempt this Instructable, take a minute to watch this instructional video on building and assembling a soda can survival stove, affectionately known as a "hobo stove".

Once you're finished, head over to step 2!

Step 2: Acquire the Items

Building a soda can survival stove is very simple. It only requires two cans and a sharp knife. If you have a marker and some scissors it's even easier. A third unopened can will also help, but is completely optional.

Items Needed:

2 empty soda cans
1 knife

Optional Items:

1 marker or pencil
1 scissors
1 unopened full soda can

Step 3: Safety First!

The apocalypse hasn't happened yet! So be sure to be safe. You're playing with flammables in this Instructable, so have a fire extinguisher standing by! Of course, safety glasses are a must with any project.

Step 4: Mark and Cut the Empty Cans

You're going to need to cut the bottom off of both cans. If you have a sharpie, mark a circle around the cans about 1.5" from their bottoms.

Use your knife or scissors to cut the cans in half at that line.

Take your knife and cut the bottom out of one can. This will not be easy! Take your time and go slow. Try to leave as few burrs as possible so you don't cut yourself later. And be sure to keep your fingers well out of the way should you slip or cut too deep. Safety first!

Step 5: Make the Center Ring

Take the excess from one of the cans and cut out a center ring to fit from the top to the bottom of the finished stove. Split this ring in half down the center so you can roll it up to make a smaller diameter than the can tops and bottoms. Make it too big at first and then experiment until you get the right size. It should just make contact with the top and bottom of the inside of the stove. If there's a gap, you cut it too short, try again with the other can.

At the bottom of the ring make two or three small triangle cut outs. This will be where our survival stove obtains its fuel from. Bigger doesn't necessarily work better. So experiment by starting with smaller triangles and then work your way up if you need more fuel/larger jets.

Step 6: Assemble the Survival Can Stove

This is where the third (full) can comes in handy. If you have it, press it into the base of the survival can stove. This will slightly enlarge the diameter of the base. This will help the top (bottom of the second can) slide into the bottom.

Place the ring in the center of the bottom can using the ring already there by the manufacture as a guide mark. Then press the bottom of the can with the hole in it over the ring and down into the expanded bottom can.

Press it in all the way until the center ring has no gaps, top or bottom. Make sure the triangles you cut out are at the bottom of the stove.

Step 7: Make the Burner Jets

Take your knife and puncture between 15 and 20 holes into the top ring of the can. You won't have a drill to make these holes with during the apocalypse, so you better get some practice now before those zombies come.

Be sure to keep your fingers well clear in case you slip or press the knife through too far.

These jets will be where the flames come out, just like the gas jets on your natural gas or propane stove at home.

Step 8: Fill and Light the Stove

The final step is to fill your stove and light it.

Only fill it about 1/4 full. No need to waste fuel. We're going to need it to survive off of. You can use any alcohol you can find. Purer is of course better. Vodka and Everclear work very well. In this Instructable I used isopropyl alcohol because I didn't want to waste my Vodka, and you shouldn't either!

Light the center chamber of the stove and let it heat up for about 2 minutes. The jets should start to light. If they don't you can try lighting them manually. That's it you're in business.

Step 9: Using the Stove

The best way I've found to use this stove is to find and use some additional soda cans to make a ring around the soda can stove. These cans can be used to support another container (or pot) that contains the water you need to boil or the food you want to cook.

If you liked this Instructable there's a good chance you'll like my other projects too! Be sure to follow me here on Instructables and make sure to check out my website at You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel at!