DIY alcohol stove

THE HITCHHIKER'S KITCHEN

How to build an alcohol stove

These lightweight mini camping stoves are easy to make and a great addition to every backpacking kit. I have built and tested different versions and this is my favorite design.

It is easy to build with a few simple tools and doesn't require any fancy materials. It takes me around 30 minutes to turn one soda can into the perfect little stove.

How to make an alcohol stove.
How to build an alcohol burner.
 

The materials - for this design only one can is needed. I collect, rinse and recycle cans I find lying around. I get the main material for free and clean up the neighborhood (because of Covid-19 I buy my own cans at the moment).

The starting point for the construction of this alcohol burner is one soda can.

I tried different soda cans and I prefer building my stoves with sleek cans (energy drinks, coffee shots and sparkling wine). The top and the bottom made from a slim can (200/250ml or 6.7/8.4 Fl Oz) will have a good fit.

The simple tools for building an DIY alcohol stove.

The tools – a pair of sturdy nail scissors, a piece of sandpaper, a marker, a pin (or sewing needle), a piece of aluminum corner guard, some sticky tape and a measuring tool (ruler, set square or tape measure). The second pair of scissors is optional.
Combined, they make a lightweight and multipurpose kit that fits into every backpack and makes it easy to build alcohol stoves anywhere.

Building an alcohol stove out of a soda can with nail scissors.
I use nail scissors to build an alcohol burner out of a soda can.
 

First I use the nail scissors to cut out the top of the can.

Smoothing the edges of the soda can with sandpaper.
Soda cans without tops and smooth edges.
 

The edge will be a little bit jagged. I use sandpaper to smooth it out.

Cutting the soda can into half.

Next I use a pair of scissors to punch a little hole into the middle of the can and cut it in half. This doesn't have to be pretty.

Marking the height of the alcohol stove.

I place a marker on top of some pieces of wood or one thick book and keep it steady. By slowly turning and pressing the can against the pen I get a clean and even mark all around. I mark the top at 5 cm (2") and the bottom at 4,6 cm (1.8"). The height of the finished alcohol stove will be around 5,5 cm (2.2").

Ultralight DIY alcohol stove with pot stand and windscreen.

I also build a smaller and lighter version that fits perfectly in my DIY pot stand. I mark the top at 4 cm (1.6") and the bottom at 3,6 cm (1.4"). The height of the tiny alcohol stove will be around 4,5 cm (1.8").

Taller stoves lose pressure and sputter, and smaller ones need to be refilled frequently.

Cutting the can down to the right size.
The finished bottom of the DIY alcohol stove.
 

After measuring and marking the correct heights, I cut the top and the bottom down to the right size.

The little camping stove is taking shape.

The result will look something like this.

Putting tape around a soda can.
Measurement of the sections.
 
Dividing the circumference of the can.

Next I need to divide the circumference of the can into 16-18 sections.
I wrap a piece of tape around the top and mark the overlap. One mark at the beginning and one at the end. The Α and the Ω of the sticky tape. I take the tape off and stick it down on a flat surface. I measure the distance between Α and Ω and divide it into equal sections. I put the tape back on and transfer the sections.

Marking the aluminum of the can.
Denting the aluminum of the can.

I mark the individual sections on the can and dent the aluminum with the corner guard. A tissue paper placed between the rim and my fingers prevents a cut.

The finished top of the DIY alcohol stove.

This is what the finished top will look like.

Combining the top and the bottom of the handmade alcohol stove.

Now I combine the top and the bottom.

Using a pin to punch a little air hole into the top.
The finished air hole.
 

In the last step I use a pin or a needle to punch a little air hole into the top. It is a little safety feature. If the top gets covered, the hole will enable the flow of oxygen and regulate the pressure inside.

The construction of the best alcohol stove is completed.

Finished and ready for adventure.

The alcohol stove in action.

A quick burn test. I am pretty pleased with this one.

This alcohol stove failed and melted.

Fail! Aluminum isn't always aluminum. The top of this stove melted during the burn test and stank up my kitchen. I always crack a window and keep the room proper ventilated when I am doing a quick test. Because of noxious fumes alcohol stoves are best used outdoors.

Disclaimer: Build and use an alcohol stove at your own risk! Handle and use your tools and flammable substances safely. Use caution and common sense. If you have a tendency to hurt yourself or to damage things, don't try this at home or outdoors !

Please visit this page for more info on how to safely use an alcohol stove !

Send me an email if you do have a question or build an awesome little alcohol stove and want to share the result:
team ⓐ heldenstuff . red
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