The Nan Stove




About: Ex-Navy, Retired Mechanical Designer, Gadget Addict and Fiction Writer. Love all things mechanical and some electronics, and also wine making, mead making, good whiskey and cigars, looking into getting a Ha...


1 tube of Red RTV high temp Gasket Maker (from local auto shop)

1 package of Prorepair Screen Repair Kit for aluminum screens(!) made by Prime-Line and sold in Walmart

Selected tin for your stove, (I recommend the TOMURCUK Earl Grey tea can for its design)

Cotton Balls (dollar store)

Scrap of pink fiberglass insulation (ask at any building site for free!)

In the midst of cranking out multiple forms of the pop can alky stove, I began to see a need for a longer burning and more controlled stove. While looking at possibilities of various stove types, my wife suggested a can for me to consider. A simple cubical tea can (3” x 3” square by 3-7/8” tall) of the Tomurcuk band (their Earl Grey tea). The tin was perfect, and I named the stove after the creator of it.

This size can holds roughly 18.7 fluid ounces, which gives a serious fuel capacity to any small stove. You can put a complete bottle of 'yellow' Iso-heet in this stove, press on the lid, and have an emergency or auto stove that holds its own fuel!

In testing this stove, I put a coffee pot with eight cups of water over it on a small windscreen, and had the coffee boiling in 40 minutes, and the stove continued to give heat output for a total of more then an hour and a half! Yeah you read that right, for an hour and a half! For camp cooking, auto camping, emergency needs, heat and enough of it to be useful is important to the max. Cooking for more then one, boiling water to purify it, signalling or having a heat source, this stove is both easy to make and easy to repair without any real tooling. Let's get started;

Step 1: Seal and Check It Twice

Step One – Clean out the can and seal the inside seam at the bottom and the single side seam with the red RTV High Temp Gasket compound. Be liberal with this stuff, and make sure your seal is right the first time. This step will add greatly tot he overall life of your stove so don't scrimp!

Step 2: Balls

Step Two – Pack the bottom half of the stove can with cotton balls firmly, to act as the storage media for the stove. This is the sort of like the balls in your Zippo lighter, the fuel tank if you will.

Step 3: Wick It Right

Step Three – Push in the insulation to form the 'burner element', so make sure it has no holes in it down to the cotton balls. Its job is to act as a wick for the fumes, and prevent fire from reaching the cotton layers.

Step 4: Fire Screen

Step Four – Take one of the aluminum screen patches, and trim it to a square that just fits inside the top edges of the can. (Roughly 3” x 3”.) Cut the corners at 45 degrees to give you a roughly circular screen piece.

Step 5: Final Assembly

Step Five - Press this screen down on the fiberglass and under the edges of the tin's opening. Make sure to use the aluminum screen pieces only! Invert the can and smack the top of the can down smartly to settle everything inside and give a smooth look to the burner area.

Step 6: Check the Seal and Its Done

Step Six – Press can lid on and see that it seats and stays in place. Your stove is now complete, and only needs a touch of High Temp pain to make it weather proof and classy.

Step 7: Tips

Use a simple can wind guard (cut the top and bottom out of a can and punch holes around the top and bottom edge for air control), and you are ready to go. Select a can that is a few inches taller then the stove, and you have room for the flame. This stove can heat to a boil EIGHT CUPS of water in just thirty to forty minutes without worry or problems.

I keep mine in a simple plastic bag in case the fuel leaks, (but haven't had a drop in the bag ever!)

These make easy gifts and with Hi-temp paints, you can personalize them for anyone easily.

Use ONLY the yellow bottles of Iso-heet and you will have no smoking or soot build up to deal with.



  • Games Contest

    Games Contest
  • Paint Challenge

    Paint Challenge
  • Barbecue Challenge

    Barbecue Challenge

100 Discussions

Best camp stove I've seen yet.....can't wait to make one.....don't know if I understand what Iso-heet is....the stuff for putting in the car's gas tank sold in automotive departments? Also, I live in USA and have had several of those cans....even in different sizes

9 replies

Reply 2 years ago

Iso heet is methanol, very clean synthetic alcohol (poisonous to drink), that burns clean. Hardware pure alcohol paint thinner worked well for me too. Cheaper in bulk than the automotive gasoline de-watering additive.


Use ONLY the yellow bottles of Iso-Heet, found in walmarts, and auto parts stores. Burns clear, no soot and reliable every time!!!


Denatured alcohol will also work very well. You can buy it in larger containers at hardware, paint & home improvement stores.


iso heet is isoproponol (rubbing alcohol) in high concentration as a fuel additive.

You can buy 91% isoproponol from walmart. or you can use heet (methonol, don't get it on your skin) or ethanol based solution, like everclear.

Look at the bottle, and avoid "contains petroleum distilates" as that would make it not indoor-grade.

go to zenstoves .net, yellow heet is mostly methnol with a some other things, Iso heet is way better in the tank, but, vile in a stove. Only Use yellow bottle.

If you have speed shop near your (or a nascar tract , ask around someone can sell you pure unadulterated spirit at a fraction of the cost of small bottles, bring yer own gallon jug. Have other at home so you can rebottle. You need to have as little air in contact with it as possible as it is hydroscopic..

MAke sure all your rebottle bottles are painted red and have all the warnings. Little kids will not realise it ain't soda and drink it. They die painfully blind and fast. Trust me kids won't even taste it before it is too late. I have a younger sister who drank bleach, twice, (she was 4) she saw a 7 Up bottle mom put down and she swigged it., she thought it was 7 Up. Bleach was delivered to your home (yikes I am old), in jugs, and there were no screw cap soda bottles, You always diluted it b4 using it. So if it were pure bleach I would not have a sister.

Thank you very much for all your information. I didn't know much beyond Coleman fuel and lamp oil. I was a nurse so I do understand your warnings. I also drank 'soda' from the counter at age 9 that was quite delicious.....then one of the adults couldn't find their gin n tonic!

Remeber , avoid Isopropal alcohol, that is Red Bottle of Heet or IsoHeet. Also avoid Rubbing alcohol/isopropol rubbing alcohol.They soot up and usually stink.

Ethanol, is drinkable highly taxed and the best for a stove, but cost prohibitive. Ethanol also has more calories per ounce so it is a hotter flame.

Denatured Ethanol as well as Methanol are toxic with small exposure and POISONOUS if you get enough in you. If they do not kill you, they blind you kill your liver, they give you painful ulcers.

They mmake denatured ethanol by adding a certain percent of METHANOL and / or other chemicals that are very poisonous.

Storage bottles should be red with skull and crossbones. And bold lettered POISON Flammable. BUT while it is flammable it is also NOT EXPLOSIVE.

Fumes are always an issue, but coleman stoves and others make CO odorless, tasteless and deadly pretty fast, Alky stoves and prope stoves make CO2 which is ok , but in a sealed room would kill you too. The Aky stove caould make some CO if it is not burning right, (blue) but little of it. and if you have ventilation you should be good.

People burn Sterno and Fondue pots and don't even consider the issues, but they should.

Oh Sterno.... not very good, ok to use as chaffing fuel or even as a source for a preheated hot baking set up, but to boil water etc they are slow, they are pure meth spirit in a gelatinous binder. If you have half dried out shriveled sterno add some meth a little at a time , I read they will reinflate, so they can be reused.

There are also some liquid candle wick type heaters that burn hotter and are chock full of very nasty poisonous and carcinogenic chemicals. Nasty as in do not get it on skin, do not breathe fumes. Why they are legal is beyond me.

Again check out, zenstoves,net, great info plans for many stoves. Consider a rocket stove for emergencies. make sure you use ungalvanized stovepipe. In a real disaster situation you may be surrounded by shattered wooden structures. A rocket stove will use up small bits of wood and cardboard very nicely, pack a hand saw and a hatchet with it, to make fuel easier to use. If you can make the stove tall you get added benefit of less/no soot on the pan bottoms. They are cheap enough to make a few, (do you cook on 1 burner?)And you could build a summer kitchen outside with an oven!

be prepared!


2 years ago

A simple wire coat hanger frame will clip on top and support a small pot without the need for added grills or weight. This is almost identical to the alcohol units on my sailboat galley stove, just square and taller. Suckers burned forever.


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

No, the cotton balls don't burn, they "store" the fuel (keeps things from sloshing around and keeps the fiberglass layer at the top of the can. The fiberglass works as a wick for the alcohol fumes...and the fiberglass doesn't burn either.

Correct, the layer of fiberglass and the wire screen element stop the fire from proceeding down into the cotton balls as the fuel level drops. Each part of the stove construction is designed to aid the total operation of the stove. The sealer keeps seams from starting to leak as the metal warms up and seams may open. The screen (remember chemistry class and the burner under the flasks) stops the flame from moving through the screen. The fiberglass is a high temperature resistant layer to protect the cotton balls, allowing the flow of fuel vapor up, but not the flame front down to the cotton.

Huh? Swoosh, hand going over head, lol. I can usually catch on but not this time. Sorry, I never got to chemistry in high school, my ADD had me so totally messed up that in our school district we got tested every & assigned to classes according to how well our test scores were. Mine were high, got sent Honors Biology & Honors English (this was late 80's) but couldn't handle it, lol. Luckily our Community College had an alternative program we could stay in one classroom, work on 1 subject at our own pace, graduate when we were ready. I wanted to graduate with my class but was a whole year behind due to having so many problems with classes
But I was able to do all the work of 2 yrs in 1 yr but with a minimum of graduating with biology in 1990! So it wasn't until 2009 that I found out that I had ADD. Everything makes so much sense now. Anyways, lol. I think I'll have to ask my son to help explain this one to me. He's into quantum mechanics & is only in the 10th grade in high school, lol. He thinks AP classes r boring, I'm like where did he come from?! Must take after his Dad, lol. But thanks for trying to explain it me.

Just think of the screen as a flame stopper (It absorbs enough of the heat that the process of combustion is stopped. yet the heat itself goes through. This is how those spark proof mufflers work, (a fine screen allows the gas from the engine's combustion through, but in the even of a backfire, stops the spark instantly.) this is the purpose of the stove's screen, a flame stopper.

As I'm 68, I get to be a bit ADD myself, only we call it a 'senior moment'.

I get the tea from a place in Minneapolis called Bills Imported Foods, and they will ship. I love the tea, reminds me of the tea I drank on night watches on tramp steamers as a young man. You make it strong, and tea can warm you better then coffee, and has about as much caffeine. It also settles an upset stomach in rough weather if made a bit lighter then 'Watch Tea'. The cans are heavy walled and strong enough for the stove construction, handling the heat quite well. I even use one with an 3/32" hole in the top as my char can which I load with cut up cotton t-shirt material and just put on the BBQ. Makes a mess of char cloth in minutes. Just let the can burn off the gases from the small hole, and when the small jet of fire no longer comes out of the hole, the char job is done. Sit it aside and when cool, you have scads of char cloth for fire starting.

The red gasket RTV stays pliable and seals even when the stove is hot, JB Weld, while great stuff is not flexible after it sets, and in time the seams might leak.Almost any little tin of a similar size and design will work, so it doesn't have to be tea. The idea was to create a stove that could heat more then a couple of cops of water, could make me a pot of coffee anywhere anytime, and do so for a few penny's and a bit of work. Its now my go to stove for road trips, camping, and will serve well in emergencies and power outages.


4 years ago on Introduction

This looks awesome! Simple design and easy to build. I was going to say that JB Weld could work in the seams as well but the red gasket stuff will probably be easier to use. Cannot wait to find me some tea tins!!!