How to Make an Alcohol Stove

An alcohol stove is a portable stove that can be packed in backpacks for hiking, camping or long road trips.

Backpackers choose to use alcohol stoves because they are lightweight, simple to use, cheap to create, and eco-friendly because they use renewable, odorless fuels and can be recycled. They output about half the amount of heat of regular gas stoves, so they aren't recommended for group use or for trips longer than two weeks.

Find two aluminum cans, one that is slightly wider than the other, so that the wider can could fit over the narrower can. Pop and beer cans work well together.

Drill between 24 and 32 evenly spaced holes around the outer rim of the bottom of the narrower aluminum can. These holes allow the stove to receive outside air, so the smaller the holes are, the better pressure and efficiency.

Using a utility knife, cut out the entire inside section of the bottom of the same aluminum can. Using sandpaper, smooth out this inner section so that it won't be sharp and it cannot cut you.

Place your index card up against the aluminum can with the bottom cut out, and mark with a pen 30 mm from the bottom. Cut horizontally around the can at this 30 mm mark until the bottom is separated from the rest of the can.

On the other, wider aluminum can, mark 20 mm from the bottom. Cut horizontally around this can at this measurement, until the bottom is separate from the rest the can. Sandpaper the edges of both cans until smooth.

Smear high-temperature silicone along the sides of the 20 mm bottom. Carefully place the 30 mm bottom into the 20 mm bottom. Allow the silicone to vulcanize overnight.

To light, pour the fuel in, which is 70% rubbing alcohol and can be found in the store. The fuel should reach where the two cans connect. Then, light the fuel with a match or a lighter, and wait 30 seconds before the outside edges begin to flame.

Things You Will Need

  • Two aluminum cans
  • Drill
  • Utility knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Scissors
  • Index card
  • Pen
  • Ruler
  • Silicone
  • Fuel
  • Matches or lighter

Tip

  • For a list of wider and narrower cans that will fit perfectly when used together, visit http://zenstoves.net/Supplies-Basics.htm. The fuel can be bought online or in any hardware or outdoor supplies store.

Warning

  • The utility knife and scissors are sharp, and the edges of the aluminum cans are sharp until you sandpaper them smooth. Consider wearing safety gloves when working with these sharp objects. Only test the stove outside and away from flammable objects. The flames engulf the can and could easily start a fire.