How to Make Your Own Working Camp Stove

How to Make Your Own Working Camp StoveFor many backpacking and camping enthusiasts, weight is a primary concern. Reliable operation and service from gear is also a must for many backcountry travelers. All of these criteria apply to camp stoves that are used to boil water and cook food. Many stoves are available for purchase from outdoor, big-box and other retail outlets. However, an inexpensive and reliable stove can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost of ultralight camping and backpacking stoves.


Difficulty: Easy

Things You’ll Need:
  • 3-oz. cat food can
  • Soap and running water
  • Rag
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Permanent marker
  • Paper hole punch
  • Denatured alcohol
Step 1
Open a 3-ounce can of cat food by pulling up on the opening ring and carefully removing the metal top. Empty the contents of the cat food can and wash the inside with soap and water. Dry the can with a rag or paper towel.
Step 2
Hold the can securely in one hand, with a pair of pliers in the other. Place the closed jaws of the pliers against the inside rim of the can. Run the jaws of the pliers completely around the inside rim several times to push down any sharp edges that might remain after opening the can.
Step 3
Continue to hold the can so that the top edge is easily accessible. Mark 16 points just below the rim of the can with a permanent marker. Evenly space the points around the can and use a ruler or tape measure if necessary.
Step 4
Slide the punch, or cutting jaws, of a paper hole punch onto the can. Align the hole punch over a marked point, apply pressure to the punch and make a hole in the can. Repeat the process for the remaining 15 marked points.
Step 5
Punch a second row of holes about an 1/8 of an inch below the first row. The holes in the lower row should be positioned below and centered between the holes on the top or first row.
Step 6
Fuel the stove with denatured alcohol. Pour in enough alcohol so that the can is filled to a point just below the bottom row of punched holes. Place the stove on a level surface that is clear of debris or other combustible material. Light the alcohol with a match.

Tips & Warnings

Make a simple wind screen for your camp stove out of aluminum foil.

Article Written By Keith Dooley

Keith Dooley has a degree in outdoor education and sports management. He has worked as an assistant athletic director, head coach and assistant coach in various sports including football, softball and golf. Dooley has worked for various websites in the past, contributing instructional articles on a wide variety of topics.

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