A Cubical Pocket Stove




Even with all of the fast food restaurants in my area I occasionally find use for this stove to make boiled eggs or hot water for coffee or tea. If you are careful you can use it in your cubicle at work to do the same thing. For pan fried foods, however, I do not recommend this stove but rather one of the pressure pocket stoves, since your fry pan needs to move around.

If you need boiled water for coffee, tea, soup or to make eggs then this stove will get you there.

Step 1: Basic Materials

Acquire some small, pocket sized, zip lock storage bags and some paper towels, absorbent paper drink coasters or tissue paper. Try to avoid using absorbent material that might contain unwanted chemicals. Tissue paper works okay but becomes delicate to handle when it gets wet. Ever tried to dry your hand with tissue paper? What a mess!

Step 2: Cut Out the Stove

In this example I used the bottom of a tall coconut water drink can as a form to cut out the stove. You can use a regular soda can or any metal can that you want to use later for the pot.

Note: While these "pads" can also be used as regular hand towelettes and as emergency first aid wipes you may want to use serialized gauze pads instead of paper towel to avoid chemicals in the paper that may leach chemicals you do not want to get into an open wound.

Step 3: Place the Stove in the Bag

I found a package of 100 pocket size bags at the flea market for $1.

Step 4: Add Some 91% or Some "salted Out" Isopropyl Alcohol

Just pour enough inside the bag to saturate the paper towel.

Step 5: Usage

At your cubicle when you are ready to cook just place your stove on something that will protect your desk from fire, heat and flame. I used an empty tuna can, turned upside down.

Step 6: Add the Cooking Pot

Place the pot on top of the stove. (To help prevent the alcohol from vaporizing too fast when the pot starts to boil you can cut out a piece of window screen to place between the pot and the paper.)

Step 7: Light It Up

If smoking is allowed in your cubicle then a match will work fine. If not use a lighter.

Step 8: Get Your Food Ready for the Boil

I boil eggs or make tea most of the time

Step 9: Plop It in or Use a Spoon

This coconut water can will easily hold three large eggs, but sometimes some water must be removed to prevent spill over before the last egg is added.

Step 10: Tips

- Trimming the stove to fit the bottom edge of the can will help improve the stoichiometric ratio.
- You can use an eyedropper to add more fuel. Just be careful not to burn your fingers or spill any on your desk.
- Keep a glass of water handy to put out any accidental fire.
- If the fire alarm goes off put out the flame, hide the pot and stove and follow the instructions given for the fire drill.
- Try to look innocent and puzzled, but agitated and bewildered at the same time by such an interruptive event. Also be sure to walk and not run.
- In case someone sees you or smells smoke coming from your cubicle and reports you here are a few tried and true responses:
> "Care for a hard boiled egg?"
> "When did they fix the microwave?"
> "The Instructable said it was perfectly safe."
> "I had a glass of water handy."
> "I do this at home all the time."
> "Rubbing alcohol is not supposed to smoke."
> "My kid is studying to be a Boy Scout."
> "These pads are great if you ever nick yourself."
> "You can get salmonella poisoning from eating raw eggs."

Step 11: Experiment

Try other types of absorbent material, pots and stands.

Picture below shows use of Heineken 24 oz beer can for pot.



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    72 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I haven't thought it all the way through, but carbon tape may work really well in this instance.

    Matt D655

    8 years ago on Step 6

    I appoligize for my comment so many years ago.

    are you japanese?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    A cheap metal hip flask, the kind used for booze, makes a good container for your fuel.  Just be certain to CLEARLY LABEL IT AS FUEL so that no one drinks from it.  You could spray paint it red then label it with black letters.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I wonder if you could use this setup to make char cloth at the same time you are cooking your eggs. Don't know will have to look into that. Great instructable BTW!


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    You should use only methyl hydrate. It is very clean burning, reasonably cheap and is available in the paint section of your local Crappy Tire or hardware store. It is also used as a shellac thinner.

    You must have an easy and effective way to extinguish this.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    And make sure you only boil distilled, organic water, using a clean oxygen source that you backpacked in to avoid absorbing any air pollutants... Personally, I use sterilized free-range wood chips for my camp fires.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    One of the drawbacks of methanol as a fuel is its corrosivity to some metals, including aluminium. Methanol, although a weak acid, attacks the oxide coating that normally protects the aluminium from corrosion:

    6 CH3OH + Al2O3 → 2 Al(OCH3)3 + 3 H2O

    The resulting methoxide salts are soluble in methanol, resulting in clean aluminum surface, which is readily oxidised by some dissolved oxygen. Also the methanol can act as an oxidizer:

    6 CH3OH + 2 Al → 2 Al(OCH3)3 + 3 H2

    This reciprocal process effectively fuels corrosion until either the metal is eaten away or the concentration of CH3OH is negligible.

    Source: Methanol as fuel


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm. Ok, but since the exposure is brief, during cooking time only, is this not better than using rubbing alcohol, gas-line antifreeze and the like? I don't have the science behind it. Besides, I avoid aluminium in favour of steel or glass where possible for storing and using liquids of any sort. Would like to hear your comments thinkahead, thanks.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    The advantages of Isopropyl are that while you can not easily make your own like you can ethanol, 70% can be easily dehydrated, is readily available in small quantities, can be used to clean wounds and burns cleanly when used as a fuel for LTCFV type stoves. The ideal alternative in my experience is solar when available or wind or water powered resistance or inductive based heaters. One meal heating project I know of was designed around a human powered friction generator attached to a bicycle but humans do not make very good energy storage units, i.e., batteries and need what little energy they can store just to power their brains. I like butane, even though it is pressurized at ambient temperature. Hydrogen fueled fuel cells and micro turbines are being developed to power everything from cell phones to ipods and possibly to heat food. Only in science fiction is there a hydrogen fusion reactor to heat water for coffee or tea. Given enough time and an era of post-terrorism and we may have a fusion based suitcase that will solve any and every energy need we have.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    Right. I havent tried EverClear yet or Methanol but the flash points are nearly the same. Of the three Isopropyl is the cheapestor at least was prior to about a year ago when 1 quart of 70% sold for $0.99 and today sells for $1.76 - nearly a 45% jump in price.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    imagine making like 20 and bringing them on a backpacking trip. easy way to avoid paying $40-50 for a cheap backpacking stove!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I used 70% isopropyl alcohol and it worked amazing!!! it took about 10 minutes for the water to boil and my dad took the temp of it and it got up to 240 degrees feranhight (sp?). i have a few pics i took...here they r..... i also rated it 5* it deserved it!!!!!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks, this is really food for thought for ultralight camping cookstoves.


    10 years ago on Step 11

    Really works! I made a 'kit', so that I can use it to make coffee when I'm out in the woods painting. Weighs next to nothing and, with the addition of a tinfoil windscreen, works every time. With the stove already wet and in its bag, and an additional 1 oz. bottle of fuel, I can make up to 4 cups of coffee and never have to worry about sparks or other fire hazards in the field. Thanks!