Cat Stove Pt2 Windbreak and Potholder




About: i am a photolab technician and an incurable packrat. i have made swords ,chainmail, crossbows.cameras,bike trailers,kayaks,guitars{slide and electric},knives,various film winders and vacum easels for the ph...

here is a stove made from an coffee can and heated with cat stoves.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Large coffee can
Coat hanger
Copper or steel wire..

a marker
Power Drill with 1/8th bit

Step 2: Can

the can were using here is probably a 5 pound can.
im not sure cause im not a coffee drinker and this can came to me without a label.

first thing we need to do it remove the rim. it can be cut off with a standard opener or in the case of what ive done here an opener that cuts through the crimping not the lid and gives you a cleaner cut with no sharp edges. sorry no photos of that step the can came like that too{thanks mom}.

now you need to measure how high you need to cut the door for the cat stove or sterno can.
a good safe bet is to cut along the second crimped ring .
figure out how wide the hole should be then mark it off .
using a standard rotary type can opener cut along the bottom of the can between the lines you marked.
carefully cut out the steel from the marked section with your tinsnips.
sand the edges well unless you want to bleed for your art.
next in the third ring from the bottom {the one above the cut we just made} drill 6 or 8 1/8 inch holes evenly spaced.

Step 3: Grill and Handle Hole

next you need to make the grill.
i have done this two ways.
on the first one i made i drilled 8 holes and made a simple grill from coat hanger wire.
on the second{this one} i used a combination between coat hanger wire and copper wire i added more holes as needed.
threading up the grill is simple just pass the coathanger wire through one of the holes and out the one directly across from it.
bend it over the side of the can and mark where the next bend has to be pull out the wires and bend at the mark until the leg past the bend is aligned with the first leg.
push both legs through the holes and out the holes on the back .
bend them over so they lay in the groove and cut them off . you should file off any sharp edges here and use muffler tape or jb weld to secure the ends so they dont catch in your packsack.
now take the copper wire or steel if you have it{copper will last longer} and weave a grill in the can double it up or more if the wires thin like mine is. at this point you could use more coathanger wires or you could cut a section of wire screen to fit and wire it to the supports.
it doesnt have to be able to hold up more than a few pounds of pot and water.

now measure off how far your pot handle is from the rim and cut out a section of the can to make room for it. do a test fit and adjust if necessary.
sand the edges really well and round the corners{ this is the spot that will shred your hands and gear }
if you want you can cut out a wide section to accomodate larger pans / handle combos.
IE: you can heat a meal in a rectangular mess tin in the first design.
but this one is made to fit that pot for minimum heat loss.

Step 4: How to Use

using this stove is simple.
as a heat source you can use a cat stove, candle stove , Sterno,a pepsi can stove,or a bundle of twigs
although the alcohol based stoves cat ,pepsi,sterno are cleaner
all you need to do is place the stove on a nonflammable surface turn it so the prevailing winds are opposite the openings.
fuel up your stove place it inside the bottom enclosure light it and put the pot on to boil.
if you use a can of sterno you will get a long burning but low heat.
the cat stoves should have about 12 minute burn time reaching boiling point in 5 or so
i havent tested a pepsi can stove of a candle stove yet or a bundle of twigs for that matter.
now im wondering and i expect you are too.
is this any better than a commercial holder you can buy
so i guess its test drive time.

Step 5: Its Race Time.

direct test are such fun.
so here we have the ultimate showdown..oh ok maybe not the ultimate one then.
our contestants are{ wearing tin plate} from newfoundland canada mr hobo stove{YAYYYY}
and in the opposite corner {wearing red paint} from canadian tire mr sterno stove{BOOOOO}
now to make this even im going to use a set amount of fuel a set amount of water and measure how long it takes to come to a boil.
flatpack stove first
using 2 film canister full of methyl hyrate fuel {this is dollar store stuff so purity is questionable your mileage may vary}
to come to a light boil took......5 minutes
and a rolling boil never got to a roiling boil but peaked at 11 minutes
total burn time 14 minutes

now for the contraption
using the same amount of fuel and the same of water in the hobo can stove
to come to a light boil took....4 minutes
and a rolling boil took.... 9 minutes
total burn time 15 minutes
the videos shown below show both at peak time .
so the enclosed tincan does have an advantage over the open stove .
i expect it could be increased further by making the grill lower in the can to match the height of the flatpack stove.
but of course its a little harder to fold my design and even harder to unfold it after.
so her to spell it out are the pros and cons of both designs
pro folds flat
pro uses sterno or any similar sized fuel source
con cant be used with odd sized fuel source{twigs or charcoal}
con exposed pot wastes heat{you could carry a separate windbreak though}

Now for our hero
pro uses sterno and odd sized fuels
pro conserves heat boils roughly 20% faster
cons not folding{store fuel and pot in it for transport }
con kinda ugly
con prone to blow over in strong winds if no pot on it{fix with rocks around sides}

possible improvements?
maybe lower the grill a bit to get closer to the flames.
a sliding door {ventilated of course] to block out strong winds.
and maybe a weight to put under the fuel can to help with stability
paint it with flat black stove paint so it looks cool.

Step 6: Conclusion

thanks for looking
i hope you enjoy this and dont burn down the woods.
a few cautions first.
use only alcohol in this stove.
gasoline or kerosene will be dangerous
alcohol flames are nearly invisible in daylight be careful.

see ya later guys



    • Tape Contest

      Tape Contest
    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Trash to Treasure

      Trash to Treasure

    20 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    NIce one!
    Just a thought: you could also make one or two (concentric) circles - or maybe better squares or stars - out of the coat hanger and wire that to the two base rods. That way you need only four holes for the grid.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    good idea.
    i think i will do it that way when i make a new one.


    9 years ago on Step 5

    you did awesome - and so fun to read! We're low on money - and are going camping - I'm excited to try this. Thanks and God bless

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Step 5

    so glad you like it. its all im taking on my camping trips this year. :)


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Amazing idea!! My only problem is size.. I try to keep everything as small as possible, but that's just me. Maybe i should change my standards eh? Great instructable, very in depth, and well explained. Good show!

    2 replies

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    size is important and theres nothing that says you cant make it from smaller cans. i used the big coffee tin because it fits my camping pot. you could use a bean can if all you want to do is heat up a small cup. or you can use the burners alone with a wire pot stand. the variations are endless such as you dont have to use that size catfood cans for the burnersyou could try an altoids tin stuffed with fibreglass{shorter burn time though}. experiment and if you come up with a variation on the theme post it on this site i`d be intereted to see it.


    10 years ago on Step 5

    This is killer! I especially like the different fuel options. We may take Sterno for granted, but who's to say how easy it may be to get (or how affordable it will be to travel to Outdoor stores?). This design will work with any 'found' fuel, and the wind break make a huge difference, too. Great job, thanks for sharing.

    1 reply

    Reply 10 years ago on Step 5

    im glad you like it though i feel i should add a caution here. dont use gasoline in this stove. alchohol based fuels are all i have used or tried but others may be dangerous be very careful


    11 years ago on Introduction

    coool. great idea. i'm not sure why noone else has commented this great instructable. I have a question about the cat stove-- yes, i'v seen your instructable but can i use rubbing alchohol?

    6 replies

    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    thanks for the comment and question. as for rubbing alcohol you can use it but it doesnt have the same heat output as methy alcohol. if rubbing alcohol is all you can get make sure the percentage of water is no greater than 5% some have as much as 30% water i havent tried them but i expect it wouldnt burn as well{as hot) but by all means try it and let me know how you get on


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    ok. i might use the soda can instructable insted, since it's easier to get the materials.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    the soda can stoves are nice and you should always work with what you have.


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    ok, i might use cotton beccause i have no idea where my fiber glass went...


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    i dont think cotton will work very well it will be consummed by the flame as the fuel burns up the fibreglass is more durable


    Reply 11 years ago on Introduction

    I went up in my attic and grabbed a bag of insulation and used HEET, it worked well. I made the Can stove but it was a pain to get the halves together and a bit fragile. I'm definitely trying this one. Thanks for the instructable. I've done the small can but messed up the big can. Good thing my dog will eat cat food!!