MIDGE Gasifier Campstove




About: New twists on old ideas

Wanna build a MIDGE gasifier camp stove? Now is your chance.

The MIDGE is the simplest, cheapest gasifier campstove you can make.
It's name means "Modified Inverted Downdraft Gasifier Experiment"

Arthur Knoll (the inventor of this stove I assume?) came up with a .PDF explaining how to build it:

I was very impressed with it after building one.
This could have been built 50+ years ago and would have been a revolution in campstoves.
Literally *anyone* can build one.
3 tin cans and (10x)  #10/32  inch screws are all that's needed.

I decided to take these plans and make detailed YouTube build instruction videos.

Build the MIDGE
MIDGE Woodgas Stove Build - 01 - YouTube - http://youtu.be/0N2wwSSg-Sk

How to prepare the wood fuel
MIDGE Woodgas Stove Build - 02 - YouTube - http://youtu.be/Peo2gZAULUI

Night burn demo (using wood, dogfood etc.)
MIDGE Woodgas Stove Build - 03 - YouTube - http://youtu.be/6GDzK1pQLfY

These videos show you far more than most videos out there.
Most neglect to show how to *properly* prepare the wood for best performance from these stoves.

When around "home base" or car camping, I fuel my MIDGE with hardwood pellets exclusively.

A MIDGE will run 25 minutes on a 3/4 can load of wood pellets.
I've cooked rice for 4 people and cheeseburgers in a large frying pan with my MIDGE.

I rarely use my MSR XGK all fuel expedition stove anymore since building a MIDGE.

Step 1: MIDGE Sketchup Model

I've done the first 3D Trimble Sketchup model of the MIDGE:

MIDGE Gasifier Campstove by KK - 3D Warehouse - http://is.gd/WVdy5E

It's an exact scale 3D model of the cans.
Transparent X-Ray view shows the inner alignment of the cans.

I've changed the design slightly (6 main airholes and 6 support screws with nuts)

Main screws are 10-32 x 1 1/2"
Pot standoff screws are 10-32 x 3/4"

Step 2: US and Metric Tin Can Sizes

In the US the following cans are used:

Outer Can: 55 oz Bush Beans can, or similar.

Gas Cowling Can: Large 10oz. Tuna or 10 - 12 oz Chicken can  (12oz. Chicken works best)

Inner Burn Can: 16 oz. Tomato or Soup can

The matching European can sizes are not known yet.
I did make a Metric measurement .JPG picture of my cans for those outside the US:

http://flic.kr/p/dj5d9i  Click "Actions" and "View All Sizes". You can download the full size pic there.

Will update this Instructible with proper Metric/ISO common can sizes when someone from outside the US builds a MIDGE.
Let me know the equivalent sizes.

Step 3: MIDGE Pot Standoffs

I just added some very simple pot standoffs for the MIDGE.
Makes it much more wind resistant.
Pot standoffs should be 2" or 50mm tall above the burn opening.
This allows the tall flame of the MIDGE to work properly.
Too low and the flame gets choked off.

Take note of the warning in second picture.
Make the center burn hole in the top of the MIDGE only 2" or 50mm

The overhang of the metal allows more burnable gases to mingle.

Note the inner cans are recessed lower. I put them 1/2" or 12mm down from the outer can lip.
This gives space for the pot standoff bolts.

The pot standoff bolts also hold the inner cans in tight. Makes the stove rattle free.

Size of machine screws used was  10-32 x 3/4"

Step 4: The Future of the MIDGE

Biolite makes a self powered, fan driven version of a MIDGE:


It's internal thermoelectric generator powers the fan and can charge items off the external USB jack.
No batteries and only one moving part (the fan).

Fan equipped forced air gasifier stoves burn super clean and don't blacken your cooking pots.
Another bonus is that a fan powered MIDGE stove flame won't go out in high winds.

A regular 3 tin can MIDGE burns using the same principles as a fan forced model.
Only difference is the somewhat tarry flame.
So, if you want to learn how these stoves work, make a tin can MIDGE right away.
Buy a commercial fan powered model later for clean operation.

A great addon to a Biolite stove would be a USB rechargeable flashlight:

Going Gear - Klarus RS11 Dual Switch Rechargeable 620 Lumen LED Flashlight - http://bit.ly/MBohoC

The KIarus RS11 is a multi battery type professional flashlight with internal charger.
It can charge from house power, auto 12v socket (with USB adapter), and any 5v USB port.

You can now have heat, power, and a flashlight for an indefinite period anywhere.
Just pack a knife and firestarter.

Ain't the future great?

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Runner Up in the
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2 People Made This Project!


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17 Discussions

J. ScottE

4 years ago on Introduction

The links to the videos don't work, but if you go to the YouTube website and search for MIDGE Woodgas Stove Build - 01 you can find them.

The YouTube links do not work. Please fix them. Thanks!

Good Instructable otherwise!


5 years ago on Introduction

i made one a few years back. it worked with twigs, leaves/wood, Fritos, dog food, dried dog dung, dead grass....whatever i put into it that i thought "might" burn.

used a quart paint can and a Progresso Soup can....fit right in like it was made for it.


5 years ago on Introduction

amazing! i am working on a simple trash based version, that uses a soda can, tuna can, and soup can. its ok except i cannot get the air ratio correct / it burns for a bit then it dies. any suggestions? cheers


6 years ago on Step 4

In all reality it wouldn't be hard to install a peliter cell and a fan, create your own biolite stove, just take a look at the fusion jr instructable: https://www.instructables.com/id/Fusion-Jr-Home-Energy-Reactor/

Dang, now I've given away what my first instructable would've been...

1 reply

Well, everybody says it's easy.
Show us how it's done ;)

The hard part is *documenting* heavily with *exact part numbers* and suppliers.
People need to know how to build something *exactly*.
Check out my large portable gasifer Instructible. You know how long that took to document in clear pictures and text?

CS Lewis stole it from St. Augustine:
"“It is one thing to see the land of peace from a wooded ridge . . . and another to tread the road that leads to it.”

Make it happen for us!


6 years ago on Introduction

Congratulations on being a finalist in the be prepare contest!


6 years ago on Step 2

I've not had the chance to build a MIDGE yet however I wanted to offer up this information to help anyone in the UK wanting to try.

Outer Can: 1.2KG Pedigree Original (Dog Food) - the large cans are hard to find these days, try wholesalers

Gas Cowling Can:  185g John West Tuna you may need two of these to get the depth 

Inner Burn Can: 400g Heinz Soup


6 years ago on Introduction

I love these things, I have been using them for quite a while now and I've gone a bit loopy with wood gasifiers because as they get bigger, you can use the gas for engines etc.. You can add many things to them as well for temperature control, smoke flow etc.

The Biolite can be made simple with a peltier thermoelectric module and a PC fan ( even to generate )

The word of caution cannot be taken lightly with even the most simplest burner though, read what happened to me: https://www.instructables.com/community/Wood-gasifiers-and-safety-Carbon-Monoxide-poison/

I still use them thoroughly though, just with an exhaust fan though ( because of prolonged exposure, making design alterations ) I even use mine to smelt aluminium cans!

5 replies

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction


Don't use these gasifiers indoors!
Don't breathe in *any* of the smoke/fumes!

You are basically harnessing an entire campfire in a small can.

I tried a cheap Peltier from a Coleman cooler unit. It sucked.
Not the same as a real TEG unit.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

I've always used them outdoors, never indoors.

You were using the wrong peltier. There are two, cooling, and there is also a heating peltier module. Some only $6.00 on ebay. Your Coleman cooler unit peltier would produce a current from cold heat.


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

Hi Atom, would this work >> http://tegpower.com/pro4.htm ??


Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

sorry for my delay even though koffekommando has helped you out. Yes they should work fine, I personally use two sets of 3 modules in series, and connect them in parallel. I'm sure thats going to confuse you, I think a user on 'ibles named GREENPOWERSCIENCE have a tutorial on using Peltier modules to explain it better.

Sand can be used in areas as insulation, but as mentioned, airflow needs to be considered. Take a look at Rocket Stove's on 'ibles as they show sand insulation areas that will give you an idea as well. Hope this helps


6 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for posting this. Would it be better to add sand in between the inner and outer cans for heat insulation?

1 reply

Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

There is no place to put the sand. Many holes in the inner can.
Air has to flow through all of them.

The Biolite commercial fan powered stove uses ceramic blanket insulation. It's airholes are configured differently and ducted.

The MIDGE is a dead simple design that anybody can build very quickly.
Not really meant for tinkerers. There are better more complicated designs out there for hobbyists.

Imagine how many people could use them in NYC right now?
Emergency food is being dropped off but they are just tossing the cans I bet.
Think of all the wood laying in piles from destroyed homes. Break it up and you have MIDGE fuel forever.


6 years ago on Introduction

I'm unclear on airflow path, both from this -ible, and other images I find online.

A cross section in 4 colors (1 color for each can and 1 for bolts) would clarify this. Maybe I'll make some guesses , post a pic , and see how I did at guessing.