My Alcohol Stove

A couple folks in another forum have asked me about my homemade alcohol stove, so here it is. There are a bazillion different designs for homemade alcohol stoves out there, but this is the one I like. It’s the same design I’ve been using for years as a backpacking stove–I’ve made probably a dozen of them over the years (not because they wear out–they last virtually forever–but because I lose them once in a while and have to make a new one). It’s made with two empty soda or beer cans, some aluminized airduct tape from a hardware store, and a handful of cotton balls.

My stove. The body is made by cutting the bottom inch or so from two empty aluminum cans, crinkling one, then pushing it upside down into the other. Wrap the side with aluminized tape to prevent leaks.

In the top of the stove, cut a hole around the rim, and stuff the inside with cotton balls. This will be your wick. To use the stove, pour about a shot-glass worth of alcohol onto the cotton. The wick will absorb all the liquid, preventing spills. Light with a match or barbecue lighter.

I use the bottom of a third aluminum can, trimmed just above the edge, both as a snuff to put out the flame, and also to cover the stored stove so the alcohol doesn’t evaporate away. A shot-glass of fuel will last me maybe four or five meals, and the stove will boil a can of soup or a pint of water in 8-9 minutes.

The whole thing then stores away in a small box on my shelves, along with my pot-stand (made from wire hardware cloth), a couple bottles of fuel (the bottles are empty rubbing alcohol containers, but the fuel I use is denatured alcohol from the paint department), and my pots. Mostly I just use the stove to cook soup or pasta right in the can. But I also use the small pot to boil water, and the micro-frying pan to make eggs.

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3 thoughts on “My Alcohol Stove

  1. PS–you can run the stove on rubbing alcohol (and I do that whenever I can’t find any denatured alcohol) but it produces a fair amount of sooty smoke. Denatured alcohol burns much more cleanly and also produces more heat.

  2. I cook full meals, so my problem with these is the lack of adjustability of the flame.

    I’m a little concerned that you’re cooking in cans too, I’ve heard that’s a no-no.

  3. Some commercial alcohol stoves come with “simmer rings” that let you adjust the flame, but the theory of that always seems better than the actual working of it. Since all I do is boil water or heat soup, having the stove full-on is not a problem for me. Particularly since alcohol as a fuel produces less heat than propane or butane anyway.

    Yeh, some people seem to have objections to cooking from the can. Meh, I’ve never seen any actual studies indicating it is a danger. And I’ve been doing it for decades now and since I’m 56, if it kills me in thirty years, I won’t care. 🙂

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