How to Make a DIY Alcohol Stove from Soda Cans

Updated on April 27, 2022

How to Make a DIY Alcohol Stove from Soda Cans

When Ryan Bozis (aka Major Slacker) attended one of my talks in Virginia in the spring of 2006, he surprised me with a Fancy Feast stove. But given the stove’s basic design and my previous experience with a Red Bull can-based stove, I couldn’t conceive that it would be any better than the Red Bull can-based stove I used for much of my Sea-to-Sea Route trip.

Even though my original stove and many others were tried, I found it to be the most efficient and speediest. In addition, it was somewhat lighter than the previous designs, used less materials, time, and money, functioned as its own pot stand, and didn’t need any preheating to streamline my whole cooking system. To date, this model has served me well.
Opened windshield displays stove in its whole. This stove has been used to cook more than 300 meals. The soot on the saucepan is not from the stove, but rather from open flames.

Key Specs and Advantages

  1. Only.3 ounces (10 grams) in weight!
  2. The cat food can is roughly $.50 after tax, whereas the hole punch is between $3 and $5.
  3. In addition, there are no moving or fragile pieces that may fail. You may still be able to use it even if it has been damaged by accident.
  4. There will be one less thing you have to lug about.
  5. (HEET gas-line antifreeze) may be acquired at hardware shops, petrol stations, and hiking hostels; it is a cheap and generally accessible fuel source. Ever clear or grain alcohol may also be used, although they are more costly. Platypus or any other beverage company’s plastic bottles may be used to store denatured alcohol (e.g. Pepsi).
  6. This method boils 1.5 cups of water with around 0.6oz of alcohol, depending on the pot, the temperature of the water, and the effectiveness of the windshield. Within 5-7 minutes, the water should be boiling.

Disadvantages

  • Pots that are too big for the stove’s 2.5-inch diameter may not be stable enough. In this scenario, a bigger can, such as a tuna fish can, could be a better option than the Fancy Feast can.
  • Side-burner stoves are less likely to provide adequate heat for tiny pots (such as 600-ml cups). In this situation, a top-burner model could be more efficient.
  • Simmering isn’t an option, therefore there’s no way to regulate the intensity of the heat. As long as you’re happy to eat angel hair pasta, couscous, dehydrated and freeze-dried meals, potatoes flakes, soups, etc., boiling is all you need to do in the bush to prepare meals.
  • There’s no way to turn it off. Unless hidden by a pot, cup, soil, or water, the stove will continue to burn until no more fuel is available. However, it is quite difficult to blow out the stove.
  • White gas or canister models are faster than this one. Even if it means carrying half a pound more, it’s well worth it to eat supper 2-3 minutes sooner… Personally, I stretch out, go over the maps and sections of my guidebook for the next day, prepare tomorrow’s meals, or finish erecting my tent while I wait for the water to boil.

Necessary Supplies

Can of Fancy Feast cat food, 3 ounces, or an equivalent-sized can. My neighbourhood grocery shop frequently has the Fancy Feast knock-off brand for $.39.

Punch one hole. An arts and crafts model with a longer reach is more convenient to use than a normal one. A typical hole punch only allows me to punch holes about.75 inches from the edge of a can or paper sheet, however I can get away with 2 inches with my pole punch.

Step by Step Directions

  1. Take out the cat food and wash the can.
  2. Use the hole punch (or similar hard instrument, like a butter knife) to flatten the sharp edge that was left by the lid, so that you don’t get cut.
  3. Make a single row of hole punches just below the can’s lip. Keep the holes at a distance of approximately one-eighth of an inch apart to avoid cracking the tin.
  4. Make a second row of holes underneath the first layer of punches. Under the 1/8-inch gaps between the top holes, the center of the bottom holes should be located exactly in the middle of the bottom holes.
  5. Make a windshield by following the instructions in a previous post of mine. This stove requires the use of a windshield. If you don’t, you’ll have a hard time getting a boil, particularly in windy weather.

Operating Instructions

This stove is a breeze to operate, and it doesn’t need any special training. Wait 20-30 seconds for the fuel to warm up before placing your pot on top of the stove after adding denatured alcohol.

I usually boil a little less water than I need for my dish, but with the right viscosity and texture. Adding non-boiled water until the desired consistency is attained after the cooked food has absorbed all of the boiling water. Using less gasoline, avoiding “couscous soup,” and not having to wait for my meal to cool down are just a few of the benefits of this method.

Variations

An excellent 1-person cook system with a 1-liter-ish pot is the 3-oz Fancy Feast burner. The 5-inch diameter bottom of a.9-liter Ever new titanium pot is what I like to use. Following these procedures, but substituting a bigger can, such as a tuna fish can, will ensure that the pot does not fall over when it is placed on the 2.5-inch diameter can.

Although I haven’t performed any experiments to back this up, it’s fair to assume that the stove’s heat output and fuel efficiency are affected by the amount of hole punches. The stove is likely to be hotter and less efficient if it has more holes. The stove burns less hot, but more efficiently, since it has fewer holes. The ideal number of holes in a pot is presumably determined by the material, thickness, and shape of the pot, the amount of water being boiled, the beginning temperature, and the effectiveness of the windshield… For the sake of this experiment, there are just too many other factors to consider.

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