Cool Little Miniature Stove!




I'll show you how to make a great little portable stove from stuff you probably have laying around your house! It's perfect for camping, backpacking, and power outages.

I am not the inventor of this stove, and there are far better designs out there (Penny Stove is the best!), but this pressure-based alcohol stove is by far the easiest to make.

Watch the video for an overview:

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Step 1: Supplies

Here is a list of items you will need:

1. Two pop cans, or beer cans.
Make sure the bottom of the can is free of dents and scratches.

2. Fine sandpaper.
320 or higher grit.

3. Utility knife blade.

4. Thumbtack.

5. Wire hangar.

6. Fiberglass (optional, but recommended).
I used insulation from the basement.

7. Bottle of Heet.
You can also use denatured alcohol, everclear, or 91% isopropyl alcohol.

Step 2: Sand the Cans

Sand the paint off the bottom couple of inches of both cans.

Make it as smooth as possible to ensure a tight fit and prevent leaks.

You'll need to empty one of the cans, so go ahead and have a drink while you work on the second one. The second one needs to be full and sealed, so don't drink it yet!

Step 3: Cut the Cans

You need to cut the bottom inch or so off of the first can.

The cut needs to be almost perfectly even, so use a book to hold the blade while you press the can up against it and spin. You can also nail the blade to a block of wood.

Spin the can slowly while pressing against the blade, making sure not to dent the can in the process. It will take about 10 to 20 turns to cut through it enough to peel the two parts apart.

Then use the sandpaper to smooth out the cut edge.

Once you are satisfied with the result, use the second can to gently stretch the lip of the bottom of your stove. This will make it easier to put the halves together. Finally, put some fiberglass in the bottom half only.

Once the bottom is complete, make the top of the can the exact same way, but do not stretch the lip.

The fiberglass is optional, but important. It will prevent the fuel from leaking out while moving it around or while it's in use. It will also preserve unused fuel. Cotton balls will also work, so long as the inside of the can doesn't get hot enough to burn them - a possible concern during stove use or preheating.

Step 4: Put Them Together

Now it's time to put them together.

Because the halves are pressure fit, you'll need to poke holes in the top to let the air escape. It just so happens that we need a filler hole anyway, so use the thumbtack to create one in the center.

Now carefully align the halves so the top fits inside the lip of the bottom. You'll probably have to use a shim made of left over can pieces.

Once they are aligned, squeeze the halves together as tight as you can, making sure to keep them even.

If you're having problems getting the halves together, use the sandpaper on the inside of the bottom half to remove a little of the aluminum. It also helps to smooth the cut edges of both halves to allow them to slide together easier.

Step 5: Make the Jet Holes

Your stove will need some jets for the fuel to escape from and burn.

Use a thumbtack to poke a hole in a random spot around the edge of the can, make one directly across from it, then another in the middle of those two. Continue in this fashion until you have about 16 jet holes.

If you want a more efficient stove, use a medium sized needle for the holes instead of the thumbtack, and make more holes.

Step 6: Make the Pot Holder

If you don't already have one, you can quickly create a pot holder from a wire hangar.

The ideal height is about 1/2" to 1" above the height of the stove, or right at the tip of the flames. The flame height it determined by the type of fuel you use, and the size of the jet holes.

Make sure to sand off the coating before you use it. You don't want to breathe those fumes.

Step 7: Test It Out!

That's it! The can stove is complete. Now it's time to test it out.

First, slowly fill the stove with Heet, allowing time for it to drip inside. It only takes about three tablespoons to boil a pot of water.

Once the fuel is inside, it's ready to light. Use a match or lighter under the bottom to preheat the stove. It only takes a few seconds. Once the can stove is too hot to hold, preheating is done.

Quickly run the lighter or match over the jet holes to ignite the alcohol fumes that should be coming out now. Alcohol burns very clean, so the flames will be hard to see in daylight.

Place the pot stand over the stove, and cook up some food!

You can blow out the flames if you need to, otherwise it will burn itself out. If you used fiberglass or cotton balls inside, there's no need to dump the excess fuel before storage.

You can use some tin foil around 90% of the bottom of the pan to create a wind shield that will also assist in keeping the heat on the bottom of your pan.

This Cool Little Miniature Stove is extremely durable, reusable and will be with you for a very long time. I've read stories of backpackers using the same stove for over 20 years!

Watch the video again for the complete process:

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516 Discussions


2 years ago

when one wants to boil water the pot makes a difference. stainless is nice for the ease to clean it is a poor conductor of heat.aluminum is the best and cheapest type. having a lined pot with a nonstick surface is best.. care must be taken to not overheat the nonstick surface because it will ruin it and is also contains elements we dont want entering our body the best is cast iron. giving a nearly indestructible item that will give service for a lifetime.



7 years ago on Step 7

thanks, great instructable. Just a couple of questions:
1) I've seen in other instructions (don't think on instructables though) that you need to cover the filling holes with something like a penny, is that really necessary?
2) Maybe somebody knows, is there an equivalent for HEET in Germany?

10 replies

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

In a nutshell, HEET, is one of many commercial names, for standard Isopropyl Alcohol. (sometimes called Dry-Gas.. You add it to Gasoline, during severe cold weather to collect water from the fuel tank, and carry it along to the engine, so it won't freeze in the gas line.) Denatured (Wood Alcohol), found in painting stores as a thinner, Sometimes found in Marine (boating) stores as cooking fuel. These can stoves are based on Alcohol fueled Marine stoves.. (which I don't see too many of anymore, but see the denatured alcohol still in camping & marine supply areas in retail stores.)


Reply 2 years ago

this site gives the exact formulation for people in other countries who want to know if they can get this product. I depend on the net for my information because what I dont know would fill books. advice to all even if you get information always double and triple check it never take someones word as an answer My thanks to all who always come to my rescue with information.



Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Basically, keep your eyes open, and when you see any products (often cleaning) that say Danger Inflammable (in Germany :) ) you can just guess if it would burn well.
Otherwise, you can just buy rubbing alcohol (for disinfecting wounds, or cleaning stuff) and get one with the highest percentage alcohol possible (over 70% minimum)


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Another option is to "salt out" or dehydrate your Isopropyl Alcohol to get a lower water content (and a higher rubbing alcohol percentage).


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

And to answer your first question: It prevents (somewhat) the burning trough the big filling-hole.
If you have one big hile, most of the pressure and thus vapor will exit there and you have one big flame coming out of your filling hole. But we want many evenly spaced flames on the rim, right? So block the filling-hole with something (Penny, Screw, Plug, Insulation, ...) and let the pressure exit the outer holes and generate a neat ring of fire.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

he meant germany. he was asking if in germany there is an equivelent for the "american made HEET".


11 years ago on Step 3

yeahh, this is confusing. I think you need to rewrite part of this. Is the Fiberglass needed?

3 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

you dont have to put any absorbent material inside the stove because i dont put anything like fiberglass or cotton in my stove but the fule and it works just fine you just have to heat the stove up first.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Some of the designs, have a strip made from the remainder of the can, that sits inside, from the rim at the bottom, and the underside of the top rim, leaving a chamber between the center & outside wall of the can. This acts ass a catalyst, carrying heat down from the top to the pool of alcohol at the bottom, promoting boiling. I've made a few with 2 bottom halfs, and most recently, scoring out the center of the top, just leaving a small lip inside. 2-oz. of alcohol is plenty for boiling 8-Oz. of water in about 3-5 minutes. Not as good on windy days, as the wind cools the aluminum, preventing the boiling inside.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I made one of these, and I boiled a cup of water in just a couple of minutes. I think you should at least double the number of jets if you want a faster burning and hotter stove. It looks like this one would make a good simmer stove. Maybe good to have one of each?

smart person

7 years ago on Step 7

Your video isn't working, but it might just be my computer


7 years ago on Introduction

Seen this a few years ago on YouTube ,now loads of variations, as Heet cannot be bought in the UK methylated spirits can be used.