Introduction: Candle Lantern From Camp Stove Fuel Bottle
Why did I make it? -- I dropped the fuel bottle from my MSR stove and dented the threaded part. I worried about fuel safety after that, but hated to toss away the bottle; aluminum fuel bottles just invite imagination. The test performed this morning worked well.
Construction Method -- So I used a circle cutter on my electric drill to cut a large hole near the bottom (hold the bottle carefully!), and a spade drill to cut the smaller vent/light holes elsewhere, then drilled two holes at the top to insert a quickie copper wire handle. I painted the outside black to reject heat faster (though this makes it harder finding the lantern in the dark -- and you would be using this when the lights go out, so plan better than I did).
Heat sink behavior -- After a 25 minute heat-soak, the body and very top of the lantern was warm but could easily be wrapped around by both hands, making me think this is also good for a winter hand-warmer. The bottom was warm but cooler than the top; seems safe for placing on wooden surface.
Aerodynamic behavior -- I walked around swiftly with the lantern to test the aerodynamics, and I even swung the lantern around me very quickly in various attitudes. The candle does not go out when walking normally with the window facing forward -- offers a bit better flame-stability than when you walk around with just a candle in your hand. With the windows facing to the side or rearward of your walking vector, the flame is perfectly steady, even when I swung the lantern, making me think it would behave well in light winds (say, after a hurricane broke your windows). Of course, in vigorous motion when the lantern faces forward, you can easily put out the flame, but it stayed lit remarkably well through the first couple of swings even facing forward.
Lighting -- I went down into my darkened basement and enjoyed the aesthetic vent-hole effects on lighting as well as the practical lighting of the large window. By turning the lantern with the solid lantern-wall toward you, you can invesitage dark corners without much light spoiling your dark-adapted eyes.
Potential Improvements -- (1) I would plug the top with metal and drill a vent hole at top-forward, so that NO light would get in your eyes to spoil dark vision. (2) You could also choose a more creative vent-hole pattern, such as a dragon, by drilling many holes with a small drill bit, or using a Dremel tool. (3) Think out the handle better; this was a hasty solution. (4) I would polish out the paint over-spray inside with steel-wool and return the interior (or improve it) to a high sheen to reflect more light back out. (5) Finally, you can make the bottle more stable by screwing on a wider base (square to prevent rolling and spilling candle out).
Questions: How will the lantern work with a taller candle? A thicker candle? A simple medieval-style oil-lamp? How could we use other larger metal bottles for making variations of the lantern, or hyper-efficient portable wood-burning stoves?
Note -- In the photo, note that the bottle sits on a Pictish Chess board I inscribed during a reflective moment on my table. What is Pictish Chess? What are its pieces and rules? Is the game just another silly and negative medieval wargame or does it permit a more positive reflection on our life-roles as we play, not without a hint of agression or ambition which is, we must admit, part of the Human Game even in relatively nonwarlike, low-energy societies? These are all good questions for you to ask.