Ultra-Light Alcohol Stove




Introduction: Ultra-Light Alcohol Stove

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Step 1: Gather the Materials


  • Marker
  • Ruler
  • Thumb Tack
  • Needle
  • Exacto Knife Handle
  • Exacto or Utility Blade
  • Book(s)
  • Paper Hole Punch
  • Two of the same kind of soda cans
  • Cat food or bean dip can for the primer plate

Step 2: Cut and Score

Cut one can 1 7/8″ from the bottom by the “Scoring Method.”
(Scoring Method – Set a utility blade on a book about the size you need and rotate your can against this. If you have a sturdy platform, you may rotate it around your can once or twice and use this score line to make a clean tear or just use the mark to guide cutting with scissors. http://zenstoves.net/ConstructionStep3-Trimming.htm)

Step 3: Add Filler Holes

On the second can, put four evenly spaced holes with a thumb tack, pin or sewing needle into the bottom. The very bottom where it makes contact with the table if it’s sitting upright on one. These are the filler holes. (Do not cut this can yet).

Step 4: Score the Second Can and Press in Place

Score the uncut can that you just put the four filler holes into 1″ from the bottom (do not cut this can yet).

Press the uncut can into the cut can. I use a small block of wood and lightly tap it in. Press the cans together to the 1″ score line you made earlier. Tear the can at the score.

Step 5: Breather and Burner Holes

Take a paper punch and punch four holes directly above the four filler holes about 1/2″ from the top of the stove to the bottom of the holes.

Make a line 1″ from the top of the stove (the part you just cut). This is where the burner holes will be put. This is one of the most important measurements for the stoves efficiency because it will determine how far the pot sits above the flame.

Make 24 holes on this line with a small sewing needle. (I use a needle put it into a exacto knife handle to make it easier to push in.)

The overall stove height should be around 1 7/8″.

Step 6: Primer Plate

The last thing you’ll need is a primer plate made from a cat food or bean dip can (these are much lighter than a tuna can but about the same size). Cut it roughly 1/4″ from the bottom.

Step 7: How to Light

How To Light

Here’s a link to a movie of me lighting the stove so you can get an idea of what it looks like and how it’s used.

Notice the windscreen in this shot. It's a piece of aluminum foil double/tripled over. Very light weight yet still effective.

Step 8: Fuels and Performance


Denatured Alcohol is the recommended fuel and can be found in the paint department at most hardware store. Heet brand gas-line antifreeze (in the yellow bottle NOT the red bottle) is also a good alternative and it can be found at most gas station, some supermarkets and any auto parts store. Look here for information on other fuels to use.


It will usually take about .5 oz of fuel (depending on the temperature, elevation, wind, etc.) to bring 2 cups (16 oz) of water to boil. That .5 oz will burn for about 4:30 minutes. It’s best, on cold days, to warm the fuel for a few minutes by putting it in your jacket or close to your body for a few minutes, usually about the amount to time it take to fill your pot with water and get the stove set up. Use of a windscreen will improve performance, also.

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    10 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction


    Some time ago I've (re)invented a stove that is very similar to your stove (and to the peyo revolution...); it only have one thing I don't like: if I let it burn WITHOUT the pot over it (in real life it can happen), the top of the stove melts...

    Have you ever had this problem with your stove?


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Never had one melt. Are you using Denatured Alcohol for fuel? I've heard other fuels burn too hot and will melt the aluminum.


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    Thank for the answer!

    Yes, I'm using denaturated alcohol (90% ethilic alcohol).

    But please confirm: have you ever tried letting the stove burn all the alcohol (in my tests, about 20ml) WITHOUT THE POT over? (it usually makes no sense, but it is a good test for the durability of a stove...)

    With the pot over, my stove has no problem...


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The thickness affects the efficiency of the stove. I guess you COULD use soup cans but then you'd have to test it's efficiency (burn time, time to boil 1 cup of water, etc) and adjust the design accordingly and make a new one and test it again and so on until it's the most efficient it can be. Be sure to adjust the height of the can, the size for the holes, the distance from the holes to the pot and every other variable you can think of. Each time you change something, retest. Only took me about 20 designs and six months but you could do it quicker.

    Also, soup cans are heavier and being the gram weenie that I am, lighter is better. (Too light and it will melt, too heavy and you're carrying extra weight) If not then I'd just carry a gallon of fuel and a steal pot.

    So, to more correctly answer your question, make it out of whatever can you want.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Also, I don't think you could poke a pin through a soup can so you'd need to drill the burner and breather holes. And you can not press fit soup cans together (step 4) because of the wider rim on the cans.


    10 years ago on Step 1

    can you use a soup can?


    Reply 10 years ago on Step 1

    No soup cans. Soda/beer cans. Soup cans would be too thick.


    Reply 9 years ago on Step 1

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