Monday, October 29, 2012

Camping Stove

Oh, have you heard?  There’s a massive storm heading our way!  We haven’t done a ton of preparation, but in case the power goes out and we need to cook things, I’ve always got my trusty camping stove.  I have a real one- a whisperlight international, but I haven’t used it since 2003.  That’s the year my friend Matthew invited me to hike the northern quarter of the Appalachian Trail with him.  For the trip he made me a stove out of a few household items.  

Matt and me with Mt Katahdin in the distance.
I don’t camp much these days what with our busy schedules and small children, but I hope to get back out there soon, and I’ll bring this homemade stove with me when I do!

Last time I went (car) camping at the KOA in Natural Bridge, VA.  The stove came, too.

You will need

1 tuna can ($1.19)

2 soda cans ($3 per 6 8oz cans, $3/6 cans = $.50 x 2cans = $1)

1 screw (I used a 5/32” machine screw) (Found it in the basement)

½ inch wire grid ($11.37 per 24” x 10’, but use whatever you have around the house!)

Tinsnips or wirecutters (found them in the basement)

Epoxy (found it in the basement)

Heavy foil (found it in the kitchen)

Drill (basement find)

Drill bits- one the same size as your screw, one that is very small- I used a 1/16”. (basement find)

1)      Cut the ½” wire grid with the tinsnips into a 2 ½” x 12 ½” rectangle and curl it into a circle bigger than the tuna can, but smaller than your pot.
2)      Cut the bottoms off the soda cans about .25  inches from the bottom of the flat part with scissors.  Fit the two cans together carefully.  The bottom one can rip if you are too forceful (I ripped three!).
3)      Using your larger drill bit, drill a hole in the center of the can bottom that is on the inside (the raw edge of the bottom can should be close to the top).  Make sure your screw fits in the hole.
Not very centered, is it?
4)      Use a Sharpie to mark 8 dots along the rim of the can.  Using the smaller drill it, carefully drill eight holes along the rim on your marks.
5)      Mix your epoxy according to package directions and apply around the raw edge of the bottom can.  Allow it to cure according to package directions. 
6)      Cut a piece of heavy duty aluminum foil large enough to fit around your pot with a little wiggle room, and fold length-wise.  This will act as your wind screen.   Now you have a stove!

Now here’s how to use your new stove.  This stove is meant for OUTDOOR use.  Find a level spot on the ground to set up away from anything flammable!

1)      Take the screw out of your stove and pour some denatured alcohol into the screw hole.  You’ll get the feel for how much you need.  Replace the screw.
2)      Pour a small amount of denatured alcohol into the tuna can- about enough to cover the bottom.
3)      Light the fuel in the tuna can and place the stove in the tuna can.  Once the fuel in the stove warms up, it will come through the holes in the stove.  The flames from the tuna can will then light the fuel coming though the holes.
4)      Place the wire grid pot stand around the tuna can and place your pot of water on top.
5)      Wrap the foil wind screen loosely around your pot to block the wind but still allow oxygen to reach the flames.  
The pot is sitting nicely on the stand, now wrap the foil around.

And that’s how you boil water using household items.  Good luck with hurricane Sandy everyone!  I hope you all stay safe and dry and warm out there!  Here's how to store your stove in the pot:

Try It

About $2.19, I bet you can find all these things for free.

Buy It

I saw a store bought version of this on for $34.99


If you love to camp, or just find yourself in a power outage, this is a quick stove to make that is easy to use.  Try It.

Disclaimer:  Some people told me I shouldn’t write this post for liability’s sake.  So for the record, I take no responsibility if you have any mishaps in the making or use of this stove.


  1. I'll clean this post up in the coming days, I just wanted to get it up before the storm hit!

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Dana! Hope you're warm and dry!

  3. Hey,

    Getting a camping stove is not easy, that too with very less big companies, as we can't find the best camping stoves.

    But I have not only purchased one of the best camping stoves but also helping peopel do so on my website and you have also written a good post on this.