Altoids Tin Alcohol Stove




I've seen this all over the internet, and decided I would make one myself. There isn't a whole lot of variation that can be done to the design, and this is pretty much a direct copy of the stove design found here:
This is a cool idea, very cheap to make, and I think it needs more coverage, so here it goes, my first instructable, how to make an Altoids tin camping stove!

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Step 1: What You Need:

A mint tin, for this one we're using a rectangular Altoids tin.

A section of fine metal mesh, windowscreen works great.

Some perlite, which is cheap, and easily found at most garden supply stores. I've heard you can substitute fiberglass insulation for the perlite, but I have not tried this and cannot confirm.

Some shears or other tools to cut the metal. Heavy-duty scissors should work fine.

A ruler to measure the tin and screen.

A permanent marker to mark your measurements.

Some sandpaper to remove the paint from the tin.

Step 2: Measuring the Tin and Screen

Before you cut the windowscreen, you need to measure the dimensions of your tin. Obviously, a square tin will be easier to cut for. The Altoids tin we're using happens to measure a little under 9.5 cm x 6 cm, but if you cut the screen at those dimensions it should fit. Mark your measurements with a permanent marker on the windscreen.

Step 3: Cutting the Screen

Use your metal cutting instrument to cut along the lines you just marked. You will need to trim the corners slightly to fit the rounded corners of the tin. I trimmed the corners 1 cm diagonally. Trim the rest of the screen accordingly to fit.

Step 4: Filling the Tin

Fill the Altoids tin with perlite, as close to level with the top as you can. Try to get the largest chunks of perlite.

Step 5: Fitting on the Screen

Now, push the screen on to the stove. Fit the corners under the rolled edges of the tin, and once you get it in it should be in there for good. Once that's in, you're ready to go!

Step 6: Tips for Use, and How It Works

Use ONLY Denatured Alcohol, 91%. 70% is also available but has too much water and will smoke. You can find the fuel at a hardware store, and an example is pictured below.

Copied from Paul Dryer's site:

"I use a little plastic spring water bottle as my fuel bottle and find 3 capfuls burns plenty long for most meals. Also for shorter trips, a 4 oz. nose spray bottle with the internal straw removed makes a good fuel bottle. You can squirt fuel (Alcohol Only !!) right into the stove....un-lit, of course! You can even fill the stove to the brim and be ok. To simmer simply cover part of the screen with a bit of aluminum foil. Boil times are about the same as a soda can stove.

Principle of operation: Alcohol 'wicks' up into the perlite for initial lighting. As the perlite/stove heats, alcohol reaches vapor pressure and accelerates through the screen to the flame. Looks like an esbit tab on steroids when burning and if used in an esbit stove, the height is perfect."

Couldn't have said it better myself. Additionally, I've found that keeping the lid attached is a great idea, because you can essentially "turn off" the stove by flipping the lid closed!

WARNING: The flame is INVISIBLE, so be careful! Be safe and enjoy!

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    85 Discussions


    10 years ago on Step 6

    Is there a version of this stove that will let you top it off while it's running?

    7 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 6

    I think I'll try running this on Methyl Alcohol as well (HEET gas line antifreeze) because it would be really convenient. Most gas stations carry HEET or similar products.


    Reply 3 years ago

    If you use the ISO-Heet that is isopropyl alcohol. Also better for your car if you use it in your gas tank.

    Certain HEET products are isopropanol, but the others are methanol (methyl alcohol). You really don't want to mix up the two if you're working with them


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 6

    i think if you add it in small amounts then you can do it while it is running


    3 years ago

    Can you tell me how long it burns?


    You may have to ask several stores but 90% alcohol in available and it is 180 proof meaning it will burn nicely. A quart might cost $1.50 these days.


    7 years ago on Step 6

    Everclear is another alternative, or any cheap vodka. Since they are grain alcohols they won't make you sick if you accidentally spill it on food that you may be cooking, plus their fumes, in my opinion, smell better. Great idea for the stove! Thanks for sharing!

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Cheap Vodka is not so cheap these days and being that 100 proof is only 50% alcohol it is a bummer and unlikely to stay lit or lite easily. Moonshine might reach 190 proof but it is illegal and expensive. best to buy alcohol at Home depot or Lowes in a decent sized container.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Try using sand instead of the perlite. It may work for you. It may depend upon the sand used. Larger versions of this have worked with sand. In essence the sand gets warm and the fuel lower down in the sand sends vapors to the surface which ignite. i do not know the depth limit for a sand filled container to function properly.


    How would it work to keep the lid and poke a couple rows of holes? Would it essientially become a lightly-pressurized jet stove?


    10 years ago on Introduction

    I wouldn't want to cook mini sausages in the alcohol fumes directly. Fibreglass should work fine, it won't melt or burn, and will stop the alcohol spilling

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Do not use fibreglass! Most fibreglass contains formaldehyde, and it will burn and possibly get into whatever you're trying to cook.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    In the USA, formaldehyde is BANNED in the manufacture of fiberglass. Fiberglass (USA) contains only fiberglass, which is finely spun silicone (sand).