How to Build a Tent Heater

How to Build a Tent HeaterFor the casual camper, one who stores his tent in the attic at the first sign of frost, a tent heater is on the list of things he'll never need. But for the serious outdoorsman a tent heater means the difference between shivering all night and having a warm, toasty tent to sleep in. When building your own tent heater, you must give proper consideration to proper ventilation and fire hazards.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • 1/2 pint paint can with a press-on lid
  • 3-inch by 12-inch strip of thin-gauge steel sheet metal
  • Hose clamp large enough to fit around the can's mouth
  • Bag of cotton balls
  • Paint thinner
  • Tin snips
  • Alcohol fuel
Step 1
Cut a series of V-grooves in the tip of the sheet metal. This will create a wind screen for the burner. The grooves will provide ventilation to the heater if you want to use it as a stove to cook on. Measure the circumference of the can, and cut the sheet metal so that it is only about 3/4 of this length. This will allow you to access the mouth of the can easier.
Step 2
Use paint thinner to completely clean out the inside of the paint can.
Step 3
Wrap the sheet metal around the can with the groove side pointed upward. The bottom of the sheet metal should extend down past the can by 1 inch, leaving two inches of sheet metal sticking out around the top.
Step 4
Secure the tin in place by clamping the hose clamp around the mouth of the can.
Step 5
Fill the can with as many cotton balls as you can. Pour in enough of the alcohol to soak the cotton balls so that when they are lit, the alcohol burns, but not the cotton balls.
Step 6
Light the stove by prying off the lid with a pocket knife and touching a match to the cotton balls. The stove should burn for about 45 minutes to an hour. When the fuel runs low, you may fill it again by filling the stove with more alcohol.

Tips & Warnings

Seal the lid in place when the heater is not in use.
This stove is based off of a Trangia stove, which is a manufactured stove used by campers to cook and heat their tents with. As with the Trangia, only burn your homemade stove in a well-ventilated area. Failure to do so could cause asphyxiation.
Always be mindful of where your stove is burning. A burning stove can easily catch a tent on fire.

Article Written By Tracy Morris

Tracy Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World." She holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Arkansas.

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