The original homemade camping stove probably is the "hobo stove." The stove's origin and name emerged during the Great Depression, when numerous people were put out of house and home. The stove itself is little more than a lidless tin paint can or coffee can that has had a "door" hole for fuel cut near the base, ventilation holes poked out along the sides near the bottom and the top and either a grill or a pair of metal pegs serving as supports to hold up the cooking pot. Wood scraps, pinecones and the like are burned inside the stove as fuel, and convection does the rest.
Pros and Cons
The main advantage of a hobo stove over other homemade stoves is that a camper probably does not need to carry fuel. Fallen or dead wood, pinecones, brush scraps and other forest debris are ready fuel sources. The drawback is that the stove needs a steady supply of high-energy forest scraps of that type to achieve real cooking heat. Burning cardboard and paper in the stove won't cut it.
Coke Can Stoves
A more modern homemade stove is the soda or Coke can stove. This works by cutting the bottom 1 1/2 to 2 inches off of two old Coke cans. One can becomes a burner, which has a series of venting holes (just like a stove burner's) poked around the rim bottom. Then a filling hole is drilled in the center, which can be plugged with a metal screw. The other can becomes the stove base, and is half-filled with sand. The two cans are pushed together snugly. The Coke can stove is fueled by the same methanol that is used to fuel a variety of factory-made camping stoves. The stove is primed by putting a little alcohol in the burner center, which is ignited. The heat of the fire will vaporize some alcohol inside the stove, pushing it out the vents, where it will then be ignited either by a match or the priming fire.
Pros and Cons
The main advantage of this kind of stove is that it is very lightweight. However, it is less fuel efficient than factory-made alcohol stoves, and it requires the construction of a grill and possibly a wind-guard to use properly.
Other Coke can stove designs call for the use of tin cans. These weigh only a little more than the Coke can stove but have the advantage of being a little more robust. The tin of a vegetable or dog food can is a lot sturdier than the aluminum of a Coke can.
Article Written By Edwin Thomas
Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.