Food Storage Can Stove




About: I like to take junk and make it better junk. I'm LDS, an Eagle Scout, aspiring mechanical engineer, IB student, and school 3D printer technician.

There are a lot of I'bles about camping/survival stoves made from soup cans, soda cans, and other assorted pieces of metal and wire. There's only one problem with most of those stoves: they don't have stovetops to hold the thing you are cooking. Sure, you can make a separate piece of metal and wire to hold your pot or pan or cup or whatever (whatever the "whatever" is), but that ends up with you carrying two pieces of "stove" around instead of one. Many of those little stoves also run off of alcohol, and I rationalized that basically wood (and, really, anything burnable) is everywhere on the planet, so I didn't need to carry alcohol around. This stove doesn't need a very large fire, and it is very efficient because all of the heat is aimed directly upwards into the cooking surface.

 - Food Storage Can
 - Wire Coat Hanger

 - Hammer
 - Needle Nose Pliers
 - Bolt Cutters (Or wire cutters if you're super ripped... the coat hanger wire is pretty thick...)
 - Hacksaw
 - Thick Nail
 - GLOVES - Cut metal is sharp!!!
 - File/Sandpaper - For the same as above...
 - Sharpie (optional)

*I took most of this design from a memory of a Cub Scout day-camp. It's not that new, or thought-intensive.*

Step 1: Air Intake

There needs to be a hole to let air in to keep the fire going. The idea is that you light the fire and then place the can over it, instead of trying to make a fire underneath the thing. I made this hole by drawing out the edge on the can with a sharpie, and then cutting out the design. Then, I clipped out the edge with the bolt cutters to give the hacksaw a place to bite into the metal more easily. After I cut to the end of the vertical lines, I simply bent the metal back and forth until it sheared off. Then I filed and sanded a little to take the edge off of the hole. 

Don't make any dumb decisions about where you are lighting your fire. Clear the area around the spot and light it. This stove does not need a very big fire at all.

An alternative way to do this would be to cut a "Y" inside the drawn Sharpie box and cut that "Y" out. When the cuts are in the corners of the box, the metal flaps would just bend in along the Sharpie-d lines. That way there wouldn't be any sharp edges. If you do it this way, let me know how it turns out!

Also, more of these ventilation holes would be very helpful. I found that the fire was smothered every time we put the stove over the fire. That is why the stove is propped up on those logs. Eventually the fire burned through those, so be careful...

This design makes it hard to control the fire, but it does very well at protecting the fire from strong winds. It also focuses all the heat directly into the bottom of the cooking surface. And it's really cheap, which is always good in my book. :-)

*Another note - when I took my Sierra cup off the stove, I sadly discovered that the stove had burned through the metal a little and changed the coloring. I would suggest only doing this with containers that are not very important to you. (AKA Sucret box for making bread - if you can call it bread....)

Step 2: Smoke Holes

After making the air intake for the fire, I had to let the smoke out. Finding myself without a dedicated church key can opener, I decided a hammer and nail would be just as effective. Basically, I just hammered holes in seven places on the top of the can to let the smoke out.

Step 3: Handle

After a fire, I didn't want to have to pick up the can itself, so I added a wire coat hanger handle. Simply, I bent the wire into the shape and hammered/bent/smashed angrily/made the ends flatter with the hammer so that they couldn't fall out from the holes. I only made one handle on the top, but I might add another one on the bottom so that the can could hold gear when it's not cooking food. Or maybe not. The design is up to you!

Another version that my brother did is shown in the second picture. The cooking surface is more of a steel mesh - I don't know the real name - and it is held up by a coat hanger threaded through the can.

Thanks for looking!
- basementhacker



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    2 Discussions


    5 years ago on Step 1

    So simple this is gr8, I wonder if you could take the contents out of a can this way the stove has a "floor". I will try this thanks for making this.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Step 1

    Cool idea. But then you would need a stove top of some sort. Try it out! And be sure to post pictures when you are done!
    Thank you for commenting!