How to Make a Soda Can Camp Stove

How to Make a Soda Can Camp Stove
The soda can stove is a popular choice for ultralight backpackers with a do-it-yourself spirit. Such stoves aren't very fuel efficient, but they weigh only a fraction of a normal portable stove. These effective cookers can be made in less than an hour and require only a few common tools to do the job, making them a cheap and useful option for camp cooking.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Making the Stove

Things You’ll Need:
  • Measuring tape or ruler
  • Magic marker
  • 2 soda cans
  • Nail or pin
  • Hammer
  • Metal screw
  • Screwdriver
  • Metal shears (wire cutters can substitute)
  • Sand
  • Ethanol or denatured alcohol
  • Matches
Step 1
Take one of the cans and measure and mark 3 or 4 points about 1.5 inches from the bottom of the can, and then draw a circle around the outside of the can along those points. This circle will help you draw a straight line all around the circumference of the can. This can is now the stove "base can."
Step 2
Repeat the procedure from Step 1 on the other can (now the "burner can").
Step 3
Take the burner can and mark 15 to 20 holes spaced in a roughly even pattern around the bottom, just outside the rim, or the raised part upon which the can rests.
Step 4
Poke holes in the burner can through the markings from Step 2, using a nail or pin. A hammer might be handy if it proves too tough to push the nail/pin through. These holes are the flame vents for the stove's burner
Step 5
Cut both cans along the lines marked in Steps 1 and 2. Use your nail or pin to poke a hole in the side along the marked line, and then cut using metal sheers or a wire cutter. Keep the 1.5-inch-high sections of the cans, and discard the rest.
Step 6
Tap a metal screw into the middle of the top of the burner can with the hammer, and then screw it in the rest of the way. This will be the fuel drainage hole and cap for the stove.
Step 7
Cut half a dozen 0.5-inch slits around the base of the burner can. One of the cans must have some give if they are to be fitted snugly together, and the slits will provide that.
Step 8
Put a layer of sand into the base can. This should fill it to between 0.25 and 0.5 inches, so not a lot of sand is required.
Step 9
Push the burner can and the base can together.

Using the Stove

Step 1
Fuel the can by removing the screw-plug and pouring a steady trickle of ethanol (or denaturated alcohol) into the can. Fill the base to about halfway, and then replace the plug.
Step 2
Prime the stove by pouring a little ethanol into the middle of the burner. Try to splash or rub a little around the burner holes, too.
Step 3
Light the center of the stove with a match or candle. The heat of the burning fuel will start vaporizing the fuel inside the cans and then ignite them into a burning jet of gas.

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.

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