Make a camping stove with a soda can

In September on the blog, I talked about the 10 Essentials of Backpacking. One of the items on that list was nutrition, but an item you won’t find on the list is a stove. Despite it not being essential, your adventure won’t be very enjoyable without some method to cook your food. While there are plenty of gas stoves on the market, you can make your own pretty easily. Introducing: The Soda Can Stove.

Even if you have the money for a commercial stove, whether it’s a high end Jetboil or an entry level Coleman stove, there are several advantages to the soda can stove. For one, its price is very affordable. All you need is a few soda cans, some basic tools and a little time. Also, the soda can stove is light. Weighing in around half an ounce, this is about as light as you can get, which is great for backpackers who need to carry all their gear. Lastly, this stove is reliable. It is the only stove to have a zero percent failure rate on the trail.

The stove is fueled by denatured alcohol which can be found at hardware stores. You might have to do some searching, but it’s not very expensive once found. The advantage of this stove being alcohol rather than gas is you can bring exactly the amount of fuel you need for your outing, rather than bringing a large can for a commercial stove.

There are dozens of different kinds and variations of this stove. I made mine based on these instructions.

The stove I made is comprised of three parts. The top of the stove is the bottom of a can with evenly spaced holes punched along the rim. The middle portion of the bottom of the can is also removed. The bottom of the stove is actually the bottom of the second can. The last component is an inner wall which is a small strip of aluminum that divides the open middle area of the stove with the outer walls. This strip has notches cut into the bottom allowing fuel to flow into the outer walls where the fuel will be vaporized and pushed out the holes, turning into jets.

If you do decide to experiment with this stove: don’t be stupid! You are messing with fire and flammable liquids. Never leave a burning stove unattended, make sure there is nothing flammable near your cooking space, and use the stove on a flat surface. Stay safe.