Whip up an alcohol stove that costs virtually nothing by following a few easy steps.
Here’s How You Can Build a Simple Alcohol Stove with a Few Materials
Alcohol stove definition: A portable stove that utilizes either denatured alcohol, ethanol, or methanol as its fuel source.
Soda Can Alcohol Stove
What you’ll need:
- 2 12oz or 16oz aluminum beer or soda cans
- 1 penny
- Metal mesh
- High-heat epoxy
- Fiberglass pipe insulation
- Jar lid
- Denatured alcohol
- Optional: 1.5-inch block of wood; 3 wood screws; larger 24oz soda can to use as a snuffer
- Steel wool/sandpaper
- Utility knife/razor blade
- Marker pen
- Wire cutters
- Drill that has 1/16 inch and 3/16 inch drill bits
Step 1: Prepare the Cans
Polish the cans if you want a clean look for your stove. Once you’re finished polishing, drain the cans however you like, then rinse thoroughly with water.
It is ideal to start the polishing while the cans are still full. Full cans are more stable and difficult to dent or deform. It also gives you a reason to down a full can of beer or soda when you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Step 2: Cut the Stove Top
Using 3 screws, secure a razor blade to the wood. Make sure one edge of the blade extends beyond the block. Clamp the block of wood securely onto a flat surface, leaving enough space for the smaller can next to it. Rotate the can against the blade to score it.
Alternatively, you can use a utility knife. Measure 1.5 inches from the bottom of the can and evenly mark a line around it. Score gently around it, making sure not to dent or wrinkle the can.
Step 3: Poke Out Burner Holes
Turn the cut out can upside down, and draw 16 evenly spaced dots along the bottom edge of the can. Drill through each dot with a 1/16 inch drill bit.
If you don’t have a drill at hand—say, you’re in the wild and drills are presently inaccessible—you can use your utility knife to poke the holes. Just make sure they’re even, and don’t create dents and wrinkles.
Step 4: Poke Out the Fuel Port
Mark the center of the bottom of the can. Draw four dots evenly around it. Drill through the center dot with a 3/16 inch drill bit and the outer holes with a 1/16 inch bit.
Again, if you don’t have access to a drill, use your utility knife. You can also use needles, thumbtacks, or the sharp end of a safety pin, but these tend to bend. Therefore, they are best only when in a pinch.
Step 5: Make the Base of the Stove
Repeat step 2 on the second can to create a base for your alcohol stove.
Optional: Repeat the same step with the 24 oz can to create a snuffer for your stove.
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Step 6: Prepare to Assemble the Stove Pieces
Holding the top piece, crimp around the opening using some pliers. For the base piece, stretch it slightly by working an unopened soda can on the inside edge.
Step 7: Place the Wick Inside
Cut off a square from some fiberglass insulation, and place it inside the base stove. The fiberglass insulation acts as the wick for the fuel.
Don’t cut a square that is too small. Be generous enough so the insulation fills the stove comfortably. This allows it to absorb enough alcohol and make lighting it much easier.
Step 8: Assemble the Alcohol Stove
Mix the epoxy, and apply to the outside of the crimped portion of the top stove piece. Carefully slide the top piece into the base piece of the stove. Press firmly so the epoxy sticks. Wipe off excess epoxy that is still wet, and sand off if some of it dries.
Step 9: Make a stand for the pot
Use wire cutters to clip some metal mesh to about 2.5 inches in height and 17 inches in length. On the shorter side, leave 2 metal threads and bend them into hooks to secure the mesh into a stable ring. Put your pot on top of the mesh to check for stability and adjust where necessary.
Step 10: Light it up and get cooking!
Put the stove inside a jar lid. Pour denatured alcohol into the fuel port of your stove. 1 ounce of denatured alcohol burns for around 10-12 minutes, so measure your alcohol accordingly. Put a penny atop the fuel port and cover it with a few milliliters of alcohol. This primes the stove.
Place the DIY stove inside the stand, and light the fuel. Wait for the flames to come out of the burner holes before placing the pot on the stand. To put out the stove, take away the pot, and drop the snuffer over the stove.
Pack it all up by sealing everything in using the snuffer can and jar lid as a sort of container. Secure them with a rubber band so you can bring it with you wherever you go.
The finished alcohol stove barely weighs anything, and the construction is built to last, just as long as you don’t sit on it by accident. You can keep on using denatured alcohol as it’s inexpensive and works very well, but you can also consider ethanol if you’ve got money to burn.
Methanol is the best kind of fuel to use for your alcohol stove, as it burns a searing blue flame, and takes no time to ignite.
One of the few disadvantages for these alcohol stoves is that they are known to be difficult to use in the cold or wind. It also does nothing for you in terms of keeping you warm. It’s best to pack a windscreen and an insulating pad if you decide an alcohol stove will be your main source of fire.
Watch this video on how to make a new design of alcohol stove from simon4043:
This makes a perfect addition to a camping trip, a nifty little survival trick to teach kids, or a simple activity to do when you’re bored at home surrounded by a bunch of beer or soda cans—but don’t be that idiot who literally plays with fire while drunk or hungover.
Ever tried creating stoves out of parts you can find in your home? Share the knowledge with us in the comments section!