Make a Superlight Drink Can Stove

Note: There are only about eight simple steps involved in making this stove. Don't be put off by the number of photographs !!!


One empty 375ml aluminium drink can, sharp nail or spike, utility knife, felt tip marker.
Do not use a Pepsi style can as it complicates construction of the inner wall ie you have to cut 5mm deep slits every 1cm along the bottom edge of the inner wall to get it seated properly in the bottom of the stove.


1. Use a sharpened nail or spike to scribe a line in the circular indentation on the top of the can. Use moderate pressure and go around this indentation 20 to 30 times until the point of the nail breaks though the top as a small hole.
2.Finish cutting out the top with a utility or craft knife.
3. Mark or scribe a line 3cm high from the bottom of the can and
4. 2.5cm(25mm) from the top of the can. You could use a felt tip marker or a nail projecting the required height through a piece of scrap wood.

can top




5. Use the utility knife to cut a starting slit in the side of the can.
6. Cut the top and bottom of the can along the scribed lines with a pair of scissors.
7. Mark, scribe and cut out a 4cm strip from the middle of the can.
8.These are the three parts of the stove ie. bottom, top, inner wall.





9.Drill the jets (holes) around the shoulder edge of the top using a 1mm drill (24-32 holes) or a one-sixteenth inch drill (8-16 holes). I use a rotary tool for this but an electric drill can be used with care. I just work out the spacing roughly by eye i.e. 4 holes to quarter the circumference, another 4 holes between these etc. Some people prefer to drill the jets as the last step in constucting the stove. This allows them to see the individual jet flames rather than a dispersed ring of flame. The choice is yours.
10.You can also make the holes/jets with a small nail, thumbtack or spike but punch the holes from the inside out to get a better gas flow when the stove is lit. If you take this route you must do it here and not at the end because trying to punch a jet through a doubled thickness of the can will cause the can wall to collapse.
11. Lightly stretch the edge of the bottom. Only use light pressure or you will tear the foil. I use the bottom of a plastic jar or the shaft of a nail to achieve this.
12. Note how it takes on a scalloped edge





13. Pinch around the edge of the top with your thumbnail every 5mm in order to "shrink" the edge so that it will slip inside the bottom.
14. This can also be aided by cutting a few(4) slits in the top's wall and overlapping the slits.
15. Form a cylinder with the 4cm strip and insert into the inner recess on the inside of the top to form the inner wall. Lightly jam it in to hold the shape or you can staple the overlapping ends. Some people cut a couple of small 2mm notches along the bottom edge of the inner wall to facilitate the transfer of fuel between the walls. I generally don't bother as the fuel doesn't seem to have any trouble moving into the cavity.
16. Gently slip the top into the bottom and lightly press together. You can cut a strip of scrap foil to use as a shim to help slip the top into the bottom.





17. Once inserted you may want to turn the top inside the bottom to "bed" the two halves with the inner wall. You should be left with the bottom edge forming a small lip above the top's shoulder. Gently thumb press this lip over the shoulder to mechanically lock the two halves together. If you want more of a lip to overlap the shoulder you can reduce the height of the inner wall to 35mm.
18. VOILA! Your stove burner is complete. Well Done!
19. Find a well-shaded spot to test your stove as it is virtually impossible to see the flame of an alcohol stove in full sunlight. Pour in enough methylated spirits to just cover the dome at the bottom of the stove (about 30ml) and light it. Flame will come from the centre well.
20. Give it about a minute and flame should emerge from the jets.





21.Now carefully balance your covered billy of water (500ml) on top of the burner and wait for it to boil. To put the stove out use your empty cup or billy as a snuffer.
22. To make a combined wind/heat shield for your stove cut out the walls of two or three cans (depending on the size of your billy) using your scissors.
23. Overlap the ends by one or two centimetres and staple them together.
24. Place the shield around your billy once it's placed on the lit stove. You can also make a potstand for your stove using a small pineapple or beetroot can with the ends cut out and holes punched/drilled around the top and bottom edges but keep in mind that this increases the overall weight. I've never found it necessary.
25. To make a simmer ring measure the height of your burner and using tinsnips cut a strip of metal from a tin can the same height(or slightly higher) and about 21cm in length. Cut a small (10mm) notch centred on the top edge and bend/form the strip of metal to almost encircle the burner, leaving a small gap between the ends of the simmer ring. Once your water comes to the boil remove the billy and drop the simmer ring over the burner and place the billy back on top. You'll find the simmer ring also acts as a more stable base for the billy. If you require a hotter simmer you could cut another notch in the ring or just pull the ends wider apart.





NOTE: All drink cans are coated inside with a protective coat of varnish. This burns and gives off toxic fumes for the first couple of lightings so it's important to use the stove outside or in a well ventilated area for the first couple of times. One quick way to remove the varnish is to place the burner in the side of a campfire for a few minutes and then remove it with a stick to allow it to cool down.