ultralight backpacking stoves

Original tests Because of popular demand, and because I want to know, I'll be comparing a few different stoves. So far the models will include the Peak1, Esbit, tuna can stove, Esbit Army stove, can stove, and dryer vent can stoves. A great source of homemade stove designs are found on Wings homemade stove archives. All stoves will be evaluated in the following areas: 1. Cost 2. Fuel type 3. Weight 4. Set up time 5. Boil time, using two cups water in the same titanium pot (except for Army Esbit stove). This is a semi-boil, characterized by some bubbles forming at the bottom and coming up, but not a rolling boil. This starts at 175 degrees 6. True Boil as determined by thermometer or thermocouple and multimeter. This is when there is a constant rise of bubbles. 212.5 degrees at sea level. 7. Burn out time at high 8. Simmer times 9. Fuel efficiency, based on a standard cooking schedule of 2 hot meals per day made with 1 pint of water boiled at each meal. 10. Durability and ease of repair. 10 = tough as nails, 1 = fragile and not worth taking. A rating system to decide which is best will not be done, that is for the hiker to decide. A Peak 1 may be better for someone that needs to fix big meals and melt snow, and Esbit may be better for a slack

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A Collection of homemade backpacking stoves and how to make them


Page 1: Ultralight Backpacking Stoves

Original tests

Because of popular demand, and because I want to know, I'll be comparing a few different stoves. So far the models will include the Peak1, Esbit, tuna can stove, Esbit Army stove, can stove, and dryer vent can stoves.

A great source of homemade stove designs are found on Wings homemade stove archives. 

All stoves will be evaluated in the following areas:

1. Cost

2. Fuel type

3. Weight

4. Set up time

5. Boil time, using two cups water in the same titanium pot (except for Army Esbit stove). This is a semi-boil, characterized by some bubbles forming at the bottom and coming up, but not a rolling boil. This starts at 175 degrees

6. True Boil as determined by thermometer or thermocouple and multimeter. This is when there is a constant rise of bubbles. 212.5 degrees at sea level.

7. Burn out time at high

8. Simmer times 

9. Fuel efficiency, based on a standard cooking schedule of 2 hot meals per day made with 1 pint of water boiled at each meal.

10. Durability and ease of repair. 10 = tough as nails, 1 = fragile and not worth taking.

A rating system to decide which is best will not be done, that is for the hiker to decide. A Peak 1 may be better for someone that needs to fix big meals and melt snow, and Esbit may be better for a slack packer that doesn't want fuel bottles to worry about, and an alcohol may be the best for normal solo hiking. We will see.

Comparison Chart:

Model CostFuel type

WeightSet Up Time

Boil Time

Rolling Boil

Burn Out

Simmer Time

Fuel Efficiency



Peak 1 $55 Gas21oz (dry)

1:00 2:00 2:30 78:00 6 Hours.6 oz per day est.



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Zip Stove   Wood 19.3oz :20 4:00 5:00 indef indef indef 7

Solid Fuel

Esbit $9.99 Esbit 4oz 0:10       n/a   9

Esbit   $9.99 Trioxane 4oz 0:10 5:50 n/a   n/a1.33 oz per day*


Esbit w/Screen

$10.99 Esbit 4.5oz 0:15 5:50 6:00 15:10 n/a1oz per day


Homemade  $3.99 Esbit .5oz 0:10       n/a   8

  Army Trioxane

$6.95 Trioxane 2oz 0:05 5:50 n/a   n/a1.33oz per day*



Brasslite Duo

$55 Alcohol 2.1oz 0:30 3:35 6:40 8:007-8 min @ 12 ml fuel

1.0 ounces per day


Brasslite Solo

$55 Alcohol 1.9oz 0:30 3:30 5:50 5:507-8 min @ 12 ml fuel

1.0 ounces per day


Turbo V8 $8 Alcohol 1.2oz 0:10 6:05 8:30 9:25 n/a1.0 ounces per day


Simmering Soda Stove

$8 Alcohol 1.6oz 0:10 5:05 6:50 8:0530 min @ 12 ml fuel

1.0 ounces per day


Trangia Westwind

$20 Alcohol 7.3oz 0:457: 13 average

9:07 average

6 boils @ 3oz

Highly variable

0.8 ounces per day


Tuna/Cat Stove

$12 Alcohol 1.7oz 0:45 3:18 5:58 6:0014:00 @ .5oz

1.0 ounces per day


* A true boil could not be achieved even at this weight of fuel.

For Weight over time comparison chart, go here.

Back to top

Update 19 0900 August 2001

More scientific tests of the Pepsi Can Stove and the Cat Stove.

***Note - I have had to modify this report on August 31, 2002. I used some incorrect data on volume and weight of alcohol in the initial report and have gone back through to fix this***

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After reading the article at Thru-Hiker.com comparing the Triangia alcohol stove to the Snowpeak and Gaz canister stoves, I knew that a poor performer was used to test against the canister stoves. So I volunteered to test my Cat Stove to show what a better performance stove could do. As a comparison I also tested the Pepsi can stove.  

The test really opened my eyes to the performance of my stove. I honestly thought that I was achieving a boil when bubbles formed and floated up to the top of my water. Now I have a more objective opinion of my stove's performance.

Instructions for the cat stove can be found at: http://www.hike.f2s.com/gear/homemade/rrstove.htm

Instruction for the Pepsi Can can be found at: http://www.pcthiker.com/pages/gear/pepsistove.html


1.       2 cups of water at room temperature – 75 degrees.

2.       Pot used is a Snow Peak 720ml titanium pot without lid.

3.       Both stoves used the same windscreen and hardware cloth pot stand.

4.       Alcohol was tested in 6 ml increments, starting at 12 ml alcohol.

5.       Each amount was double checked using a scale. The weight of one fluid ounce of alcohol is .82 avoirdupois ounces.

6.       Each Test was repeated three times, the average was used.

7.       Starting time was when the stove was lit.

8.       Stoves were allowed to completely cool between tests.

9.       Barometric pressure here was 30.15, the boiling point was determined to be 212.43 degrees.

10.   Altitude is 90 meters above sea level.

11.   Thermometer used is an Ecko deep fat fryer thermometer, probe was ¼” below water surface using a camera tripod.

12.   Air temperature was 75 degrees with the stove fan running to simulate a light wind.  

13.   Scale used was a Royal EX3.

Cat Stove:

Tested weight: 1.8 ounces with stand and wind screen.

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Temperature: 12 ml (2 caps full)

18 ml (3 caps full)

24 ml (4 caps full)

30 ml (5 caps full)

150 degrees 160 seconds 162 seconds 164 seconds 166 seconds 175 degrees 190 seconds 198 seconds 205 seconds 218 seconds 200 degrees N/A 267 seconds 274 seconds 288 seconds

Max heat: 176 degrees 204 degrees 208 degrees 215 degrees Time to max

heat: 192 seconds 298 seconds 333 seconds 345 seconds

Avoirdupois ounces

.32 ounces .49 ounces .65 ounces .83 ounce

Pepsi Stove

Tested weight: 1.6 ounces with stand and screen.

Temperature: 12 ml (2 caps full)

18 ml (3 caps full)

24 ml (4 caps full)

30 ml (5 caps full)

150 degrees 210 seconds 225 seconds 260 seconds 265 seconds 175 degrees N/A 305 seconds 320 seconds 330 seconds 200 degrees N/A N/A 414 seconds 415 seconds

Max heat: 170 degrees 185 degrees 203 degrees 209 degrees Time to max

heat: 285 seconds 365 seconds 651 seconds 512 seconds

Avoirdupois ounces

.32 ounces .49 ounces .65 ounces .83 ounce


1.       Bubbles forming isn't a good indication of boil, this starts at about 175*. Although the water at the pot surface may be at a boil, the water isn't necessarily very hot throughout.

2.       The more the alcohol used, the longer it takes to vaporize completely, thus longer times to each temperature at each successive fluid level test.

3.      Although the top of the water temperature didn't normally reach 212 degrees, the pot was definitely at a roiling boil by 200 degrees.

4.      The Cat Stove outperforms the Pepsi at the lower end of fuel consumption in the area of heat achieved and time to achieve it.

5.      Although the Cat Stove reaches boil faster, the Pepsi can stove maintains a high temperature for a longer period when using 1 fluid ounce or more of fuel. So it may take you twice as long to boil a dinner, but your food will also boil for twice as long using a Pepsi stove.

6.     The Pepsi stove may eventually reach the higher temperatures of the Cat Stove with more fuel added, but I didn't find it necessary to test beyond 30 ml of alcohol. The Pepsi

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Stove maintained a very long roiling boil with 1 ounce of alcohol compared to the Cat Stove. If I had thought ahead, I would have recorded the number of seconds each stove maintained a temperature above 200 degrees.

So what would I choose?

If I was only wanting to boil water fast, and get by on the least amount of alcohol a day, then the Cat Stove will be a great choice. If you only need to boil 2 pints of water a day, then you could make it on 36 ml a day with the Cat Stove.

If I wanted to cook meals thoroughly and didn't mind slower heating times and larger fuel consumption, then the Pepsi stove is the way to go. It is lighter by .2 ounces, and you could boil 2 pints of water a day with 48 ml of alcohol per day. But you could boil you meals for a long time, ensuring they got completely cooked and were very hot as soon as they came off the stove. 

Beverage-can stoveFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Beverage-can stove (the pot stand is omitted for clarity)

A beverage-can (or pop-can) stove is a homemade, ultralight portable stove. The simple design is usually made entirely from aluminium cans and burns alcohol. Countless variations on the basic design exist. Some require the use of a steel can to survive the heat they generate.

Total weight, including a windscreen/stand, can be less than one ounce (30 g). The design is popular with ultralight backpackers due to its low cost and lighter weight than most commercial stoves. This advantage may be lost on long hiking trips, where a lot of fuel is packed, since alcohol has less energy per weight than some other stove fuels. Of the available fuels, methanol delivers the least energy, ethanol somewhat more, butanol is hardly ever used, and isopropanol delivers the most. All but isopropanol burn with a smokeless flame; it can provide both light and heat. A stove should never be

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burned in a tent because even a blue flame produces some carbon monoxide and other poisonous gases. Burning a stove in a tent can kill the occupants silently, without warning.



1 History and design 2 Aluminium-can construction 3 Operation and performance

o 3.1 Ratings o 3.2 Comparison with other stoves

4 Variations 5 Safety issues 6 See also 7 Notes 8 References 9 External links

[edit] History and design

The basic design dates back more than a century.[1] It consists of a double-wall gas generator, a perforated burner ring, and an inner preheat chamber. A similar design was patented in 1904 by New York coppersmith J. Heinrichs.[2] Trangia has been selling a commercial version of the design since 1925, and Safesport marketed a stainless-steel stove in the 1990s. The Trangia stove burner is made from brass, although all the other associated parts that come with it are aluminium.

In the unpressurized open-top design the double wall acts as a gas generator, transferring heat from the flame to the fuel. This effect enhances combustion, producing more heat than other passive designs. The inner wall also creates a convenient preheat chamber for starting the stove. Once the fuel has warmed up, its vapor will travel up the hollow wall, pass through the perforations, and form a ring of flame. This improves air/fuel mixing and therefore combustion. Vapor also rises from the center of the stove, but will pass through the ring of flame for efficient combustion as long as a pot is over the stove. Other pressurized designs aim for efficient combustion through closing the fuel chamber after filling, or by filling through the gas-jet holes.

A wick may be inserted into the hollow wall, where it will draw fuel upwards closer to the hot parts of the burner. Evaporating fuel from the wick removes heat from the top parts of the burner and subsequently the fuel at the bottom receives less heat. This slows down evaporation through the center while increasing the gas pressure inside the wall, spreading the ring of flame outwards, inwards, or vertically depending on the jet directions, while the center of the burner produces almost no flame, leading to a more controlled burn and faster starting. Suitable wick materials include fiberglass or cotton cloth. The wick will not burn because the evaporating fuel keeps it cool, and the pressure inside prevents air from entering the hollow until the burner can no longer produce enough gas to support a flame. Cellulose cigarette filters wick fuel efficiently upwards but melt and burn in all but the least powerful designs. Other wick materials in use are Kevlar and other aramid fibers, carbon felt, fiberglass, and even toilet paper.

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Fuel is poured into the stove and ignited, burning in the center.

The flame heats the fuel and interior of the stove, causing the fuel to vaporize.

When the temperature is high enough, vapor pressure causes fuel jets and a ring of flame.

[edit] Aluminium-can construction

Three-piece beverage-can stove (exploded view).

The stove is made from two aluminium can bottoms. An inner wall is cut and rolled from the can material. A ring of holes is pierced into the top with a pin. Parts are glued with high-temperature epoxy, or sealed with thermal foil tape, although this is not strictly necessary. Total height is less than two inches (50 mm), though dimensions may be increased to hold more fuel or decreased to take up even less space.

The choice of aluminium has several advantages—light weight, low cost, and good thermal conductivity to aid vaporization of fuel. Modifications to the surface such as inking or painting a dark color increase the amount of radiant thermal energy captured by the stove body and change the stove's burn profile as a function of time, fuel load, and ambient temperature. Many designs require priming to get started and most are regenerative and stable during operation. Alternative construction materials have been used, including stoves made of tin cans such as cat food tins, tuna cans, and juice cans—the basic design is very similar.[3] Windscreens/stands can be fabricated from tin cans, cut to size with ventilation holes

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added. Steel beverage cans of the classic 12 ounces design are still in limited use and while they are heat resistant, their coating will burn off and they will rust if not cared for.

[edit] Operation and performance

Each stove is designed for one or two people. When used to cook larger meals (greater than 2 cups (0.5 litres)), it is less efficient than a more-powerful stove which delivers more heat to a pot. This is because a longer cooking time is required, during which more heat is lost to the surroundings. A more powerful, pressurized version is shown below.

To use the stove, a small amount of fuel is poured into the stove and ignited. The pot is then placed above the stove, on a windscreen or stand. The flame is small at first, only burning from the inner chamber. Once the fuel has warmed up (requiring about one minute) its vapor will pass through the perforations and form a ring of flame. Enough heat from the flame is passed to the fuel to maintain full combustion until the fuel runs out.

[edit] Ratings

Time to boil 2 cups (500 ml): ~12 minutes (45 ml of fuel) Time to boil 4 cups (1 l): ~24 minutes (90 ml of fuel) Burn time: ~16 minutes (60 ml/4 tablespoons of fuel)

[edit] Comparison with other stoves

The stove can outperform some commercial models in cold or high-altitude environments, where propane and butane canisters might fail. Roland Mueser, in Long-Distance Hiking, surveyed hikers on the Appalachian Trail and found that this stove was the only design with a zero-percent failure rate.[4]

Fuel usage (by weight) is about fifty percent greater than a butane/propane stove.[5] Can stoves weigh less than an ounce, compared with three ounces for the lightest gas stoves. Many commercial stoves also require special fuel canisters, adding to overall stove weight. No such canisters are necessary in a can stove; denatured alcohol can be carried in virtually any lightweight container, such as a plastic soda bottle. The weight advantage of the beverage-can stove is diminished by the greater fuel consumption (especially on longer hikes), but may still be offset by its reliability and simplicity.

Other attributes of the beverage-can stove are its nearly silent operation and its suitability as an emergency backup. Denatured alcohol or shellac thinner (but not lacquer thinner, which is a dangerous and poisonous hydrocarbon) is a (relatively) environmentally-friendly fuel that does not leave a residue of soot, although it is toxic to drink. Denatured alcohol is commonly available at camping outfitters and hardware stores. Pure ethanol is rarely used as stove fuel in the United States, since it is usually subject to a liquor tax. Pure ethanol is worth carrying on some extreme hikes because it is nontoxic, has some medicinal use including treating stings and bites, is a coolant and antiseptic, and has a recreational application in flamed desserts such as fruits flambe, despite expense. These stoves operate marginally on 90% isopropyl alcohol, poorly on 70% and not at all with 50%. Water typically cannot be boiled with isopropyl rubbing alcohol, but if the more rarely found (still inexpensive) laboratory grade or "gas drier" is used, and the sooting is dealt with by applying a little soap solution to the pot, the fuel value of the alcohol will reduce boiling times, not increase them.

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Unsealed alcohol stoves are inherently dangerous, since spilling is possible and the fuel burns with a nearly invisible flame. Trangia offers an anti-flashback fuel bottle with an auto-shut-off pourer. If a spill occurs the best course of action is to step back and let the alcohol burn up. A stove with a deep well is wind and blow-out resistant—blowing into it can send burning alcohol flying. A stove with a small, shallow well, or a central wick may or may not be blown out to stop it from burning. A safe and lighweight snuff cap or simmer ring is added to some stove designs.

[edit] Variations

Beverage-can stove variations with cross sections in yellow. From left to right—standard design; inverted two-piece; side-burner; pressurized.

A side-burner stove built from a single can as part of a Scouting project.


The classic ultra-lightweight backpacking stove. Designed for one person, lighter than commercial models of the same design

Inverted two-piece

Smaller and lighter than the standard version; difficult to fill


Doubles as its own pot stand (holes are in the side). A tight-fitting pot can increase fuel pressure

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A more powerful version, but heavier and more difficult to make. The stove is sealed with a thumbscrew after filling with fuel; this allows the stove to control the rate of heat output. An additional base is used to hold fuel for preheating


Back-pressured stoves simplify the pressurized design by eliminating the thumbscrew and the base needed for preheating, while still controlling the rate of energy output


A variation on the standard design, with an inner wall and insulated with fiberglass


Numerous designs in use


When cooking for a larger number of people, nothing prevents the use of more than one unit under the same pot; if each member of team of three or a multiple of three carries one nearly identical stove, a stable setup may be made of three (and only three) stoves for group cooking because three legs support one shared pot or pan tripod style; a team of six might fry eggs while boiling oatmeal, for instance

Basic TopBurner Alcohol Stove 

Top Burning Alcohol Stoveaka - The Pepsi Can Stove

 Top burning alcohol stoves are generally dependable and easy to operate, just light and wait for your food or water to heat up.  They also produce a circular array of individual flames similar to a gas range. 

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 Advantages -

Works with any sized pot. More efficient than sideburner stoves for narrow pots as you have better flame contact with the

bottom of the stove. Easiest to light - self primes. Many simmer options. Works. Easy to find parts. Can light without primer pan.

 Drawbacks -

Requires a pot stand. Perhaps less efficient than other designs because of large open center.


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6.6oz Trangia with Westwind Stand 

The Swedish Trangia stove has been around for over fifty years.  This dependable stove has been popular with both European military and civilian outdoorsman.  Made of brass, it has a wide open chamber for adding fuel, jets around the top rim and a wick in its outer chamber to soak up liquid fuel. 

Topburner Open Jet Stove 

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One of the most popular styles of homemade alcohol stoves around is based on Scott Henderson's Pepsi Stove (Web Archive).  Acceptable fuels include denatured alcohol (ethanol), HEET (methanol) and others (see Fuel Options).  It requires a pot stand or rocks to hold the pot about 1-1.5inches from the top of stove.   The stove shown above is made from two 12oz pop can bottoms.  Twenty-four jets were drilled around the outer base of the circular ridge on top of the stove, with a #71 drill (about needle size).  The bottom section of stove is 20mm tall.  The top piece is about 30mm tall and the inner cylinder is 40mm wide. Simmering is fairly easy to do and you have many options, such as placing a cutout 12oz pop can bottom with a hole cut in it (or something similar - like a piece of foil) on top of the stove. 

Simmer attachment  Note - This is just one of the many DIY alcohol stove options.  For more information on different options visit Zen and the Art of the Alcohol Stove and the Templates page.  


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Start by scoring a circular line around the inside rim on the bottom of an empty can (as shown above).  Go around and around a couple of times until it's well scored.


If you are good with your hands and a hobby knife, you can cheat and poke a tiny starter hole.  If you aren't good with your hands and a hobby knife, this technique will lead to damaging your can or a self

inflicted flesh wound. 

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Press the back of a knife handle into your scored line to start a tear. 

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Pop out the top and beware or the razor sharp ragged edge in your can.  An SOS pad can be used to smooth out any dangerous edges.


Use a sewing pin (shown - a pin designed for holding fabric together and not a pin designed for use as a thumb tack) or #8 Sewing needle in an electric drill to drill out 24 evenly spaced jets around the ridge of

your 30mm tall can section.A template taped to the top of your can section may be used to help you evenly space jets.Alternately you can use a #80 drill for a guide hole followed by a #74 drill for cleaner jets.

Note: Wear eye protection when using a drill in this manner as these small pins and machine drills can shatter while drilling.


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Mark a circumferential line 30mm from the bottom of the can you are working on and 20mm from the bottom of a second empty can.


Use scissors and trim down to your circumferential marks.Polishing the edges with an SOS pad will aid in assembly and decrease the chance of skin lacerations

later on. 

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Print out a 40mm inner wall template and tape it to a section from the side of a 12oz beverage can. 

Use a hole punch to punch out the three bottom weep holes. 

Cut your side slits, trim your inner wall, and lock the slits together to form a cylinder as shown above. 

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↓ ↓Press a Dilator Tool into your 20mm bottom section.  This should enlarge your 20mm section so that it

can slip over your 30mmm section.Perform a test fit to ensure the 20mm section slide fit over the 30mm section.  If it doesn't, repeat using

the Dilator Tool until it does. 

Note: an unopened can of the same size as your section to be stretched can be used in lieu of a Dilator Tool, but you may need to really work it by repeatedly pressing it into the bottom section at less than

perpendicular angles.  You are more likely to buckle the sidewall of the top section during assembly if you choose to just use an unaltered unopened can.


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Smear some high temperature RTV silicone or JB Weld on the inner wall of your 20mm section. 

Set your inner wall in your 20mm section. 

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Carefully fit your 30mm section into your 20mm section.You may need to use a shim (shown above) to get it to fit.  Just take your time to avoid damaging your

stove.To make a shim, cut out a section of aluminum from a beverage can, round off edges with scissors and

polish these edges smooth with an SOS pad and/or metal polish.  Smooth edges are important if you wish to avoid damaging your can sections.


Press it all together, set a heavy book on it and let the silicone vulcanize overnight before testing your stove.


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 Please feel free to link to this site so that others can find it.  It's easy to link to this site - simply copy the

text below onto your web page or see How to Link To Zen Stoves for other linking options.  

Make your own: Fancy Feast StoveI received my first Fancy Feast stove from Ryan Bozis (aka Major Slacker), who attended one of my presentations in Virginia in Spring 2006. I of course thanked him for it, but given how simple the stove was, I could not imagine that it was better than the stove that I had used for most of my Sea-to-Sea Route hike, a complex double-walled open jet model made from Red Bull cans.

But then I tested it against my original stove and several other designs, and I found that it was the fastest and most fuel efficient of them all. Moreover, it was slightly lighter than the other designs; its simple design meant it involved fewer materials, less time, and hardly any expense; it doubled as its own pot stand, which helped to simplify my whole cook system; and it did not require any pre-heating. I have been using this model since Summer 2006.

Complete stove setup, with windscreen opened to show stove. This particular stove has been used for 300+ meals. The soot on the pot is from open fires, not from the stove.

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Key Specs and Advantages

Weighs just .3 oz (about 10 grams)! Costs about $.50 for the cat food can with tax, and $3-$5 for the hole punch. It will never clog, and there are no moving or delicate parts that can break. Even if it is accidentally

squashed, there is a chance that it can be re-shaped and used again. Serves as a pot stand, which means you’ll have one less thing to carry. Burns denatured alcohol, a cheap and widely available fuel that can be purchased at hardware stores (in

the paint department), gas stations (HEET gas-line antifreeze), and hiking hostels. You can also use Everclear, or grain alcohol, though this is more expensive. Denatured alcohol can be stored in plastic bottles from Platypus or any drink company (e.g. Pepsi).

Uses about .6 oz of alcohol to boil about 1.5 cups of water, depending on your pot, the starting temperature of the water, and the efficiency of the windscreen. The water will boil within 5-7 minutes.


Because the stove is only 2.5 inches in diameter, larger pots may not be stable enough. In this case, it might be better to substitute the Fancy Feast can for a larger can, like a tuna fish can.

Because this stove is a side-burner, smaller pots (e.g. 600 ml mugs) may not receive enough of the flame. In this case, it’d probably be more efficient to make a top-burner model instead.

It does not have a simmer feature, i.e. there is no control over the flame output. This will not be a problem if the extent of your backcountry cooking skills is boiling, which is the only thing necessary if you are content (like I am) with meals based around angel hair pasta, couscous, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, potato flakes, soups, etc.

There is no OFF switch. The stove will burn until there is no more fuel to burn, unless it is smothered with a pot/mug, dirt, or water. It is extremely difficult, though possible, to blow the stove out.

It is not as fast as a white gas or canister model. If eating dinner 2-3 minutes earlier is important enough to you that you are willing to carry at least an extra half-pound, by all means… Personally, while I’m waiting for the water to boil, I stretch out, look at tomorrow’s maps and guidebook sections, put together tomorrow’s food, or finish setting up my shelter.

Necessary Supplies

3-oz Fancy Feast cat food can, or another can of the same size. I can usually find the Fancy Feast knock-off brand for $.39 at my local grocery store.

1-hole punch. A standard hole punch is adequate, but an arts & craft model that has a bigger reach is easier to use. With my pole punch I can punch holes 2 inches from the edge of a can or paper sheet, whereas with a standard hole punch I’d be limited to about .75 inches.

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Step by Step Directions

Watch the video!

1. Remove the cat food and wash out the can.

2. Flatten the sharp edge that was left by the lid with the hole punch (or another hard object, like a butter knife), in order to avoid being cut.

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3. Just below the lip of can, make one complete row of hole punches. Avoid breaking the tin between the holes by keeping them far enough apart – about one-eighth of an inch.

4. Below the first layer of hole punches, make another row of holes. The middle of the bottom holes should be directly underneath the 1/8-inch gaps between the upper holes.

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5. Make a windscreen, following another one of my articles. A windscreen MUST be used with this stove. Otherwise you will struggle to get a boil, especially in windy conditions.

Operating Instructions

This stove is extremely easy to use. Pour denatured alcohol into the stove, light the alcohol with a match, wait 20-30 seconds for the fuel to warm up, and then put your pot on top of the stove.

I typically boil slightly less water than my meal actually requires but optimum consistency/texture. Once the food has absorbed all of the water I boiled, I then add non-boiled water until the correct consistency is achieved. This has a few advantages: I use less fuel, I never end up with “couscous soup,” and I do not have to wait for my dinner to cool because the non-boiled water cools it down enough to eat right away.

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The 3-oz Fancy Feast stove is ideal for a 1-person cook system with a ~1-liter-ish pot. Personally, I use a .9-liter Evernew titanium pot, which has a 5-inch diameter bottom. If you plan to use a larger pot, and you are concerned about the pot being unstable on the 2.5-inch diameter Fancy Feast can, you can follow the same instructions as above but substitute the Fancy Feast can for a larger can, like a tuna fish can.

I have never done tests to prove it, but it’s reasonable to think that the number of hole punches affect the heat output and the fuel efficiency of the stove. With more holes, the stove probably burns hotter and less efficient. With fewer holes, the stove probably burns less hot but more efficient. The optimum number of holes is probably a function of the pot (its material, thickness, and shape), the quantity and starting temperature of water being boiled, and the performance of the windscreen…in other words, too many other variables to make this sort of testing worthwhile.

Backpack stoveHome Made -- Lightweight Backpack Stove

Here's how to make a camping stove for your backpack that weighs just about nothing and takes up hardly any space.

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These little stoves are great -- they're fun to make and it only takes a few minutes. Not just a toy -- they really work! They put out a hot ring of blue flame like a gas stove and hold enough fuel for about 15 minutes -- so if you're cooking something that takes longer than that, better make two so you can alternate them to keep up the heat.

All you need is a couple of aluminium soft-drink cans, some perlite, a wire coat-hanger and a bottle of denatured alcohol (spirits, usually dyed purple).

Invented by: Unknown.Construction directions by: LaMar Kirby -- Utah Lake District, Orem Ut., US

What you'll need

Parts List

2 Aluminum soda cans (soft-drink cans or beercans) 1/4 cup of perlite (found in the gardening department) Wire coat hanger De-natured alcohol (found in the paint dept. or boating supply)


Scissors Drill 1/16" (2 mm) drill bit Wire cutters

Step 1

For the base, neatly cut one can about 1-1/2" (3.5cm) from the bottom. For the top, cut the other can about 1" (2.5cm) from the bottom.

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Step 2

Drill a number of holes (18-30) around the edge of the top and in the center as shown; use a 1/16" drill bit.

Step 3

Fill the base with perlite, just more than half full.

Step 4

Make 6-8 vertical cuts around the top. Make the cuts up to but not over the rounded edge. Slowly press the top into the bottom. (A small board can help make it even.)

Step 5

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Fill the stove about half full of alcohol. Light the burner by slowly moving a match or lighter over the edge of the burner. Note: If it does not stay lit, tip the burner up to leak some fuel into the rim and relight. Hold it until it stays lit or gets too hot.

Step 6

Cut and straighten a coat hanger. Use fine sandpaper to remove any paint or coating. Bend the coat hanger wire (or any large gauge wire) into a shape that will hold a pot a few inches above the burner (see the example). Note: with a little imagination you can create a number of stove bases.

That's it!Jim Wood’s SUPER CAT Alcohol Stove

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s an experienced, lightweight, mostly solo backpacker, I have, over the years, tried just about every stove technology available. I’ve used a variety of white gas (Coleman), kerosene, propane, alcohol and solid fuel tablet (Esbit) stoves and appreciate the advantages and

disadvantages of each type. The option that I currently favor for general-purpose backpacking, however, is the isobutane/propane canister stove. Ultralight models equipped with piezo-electric lighters are made by MSR, Primus, Gaz, and Snow Peak (among others) and are convenient, dependable, quiet, efficient, and though hot burning, can also simmer well. In addition, analysis has shown that even for gram-counting long distance hikers, these stoves compare very favorably with other types of stoves from a weight-to-performance point of view.


Nonetheless, these stoves are not perfect. My biggest complaint is that the fuel canisters themselves are not refillable by the user, which means that it’s often difficult carry just the amount of fuel that you think you’ll need for a given outing. It seems that on almost every trip, I require just slightly more fuel than is contained in either an 8 ounce or 16 ounce (fuel weight) canister, so I end up having to carry an extra, usually at a weight of 12 ounces or more. Over time, I also tend to end up with a large collection of partially-used canisters, further complicating the problem. In addition, compatible canisters are sometimes difficult to find outside the U.S. or when re-supplying on long hikes. They also can’t be transported on commercial airliners.

Recently, it occurred to me that probably the best solution to all of these problems would be to carry a second, backup stove that would burn a variety of fuels, at least one of which could be found almost anywhere, and which could also be carried in any quantity. I wanted this backup to be compact, ultralight, easy to use and utterly reliable. It could occasionally substitute for the main stove to in order to “fill in the gaps”, but it didn’t need to be a full-featured replacement. All it really needed to do well was boil water in a reasonable amount of time, which would also allow it serve as a second burner in the preparation of some meals.

When surveying the alternatives, only the alcohol stove satisfied all my criteria. These stoves can burn ethanol (found in spirits), methanol (wood alcohol), or even, in a pinch, isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. The fuel can be found in various forms at liquor, hardware, automotive or variety stores. The kind most commonly used by backpackers seems to be denatured alcohol, which typically contains a combination of mostly ethyl and methyl alcohols. Though the energy content is less than most petroleum-based fuels (typically about half), alcohol fuels are usually safer to handle and can be transported in ordinary plastic bottles.

I spent some time searching the Internet to update my knowledge of both commercial and do-it-yourself models and found plenty of both. There are some very clever and well-tested designs available. Nonetheless, I had an idea for a type of stove that didn’t seem to be represented by any of the models I found, though it’s certainly possible that someone has employed this design before. If so, I apologize for the lack of attribution, but note that I did arrive independently at my conclusions.


Before proceeding, I should point out that I am not a chemist, nor an expert in stove technology. I am just a backpacker that has struck upon something that I think is interesting and worth sharing with my fellow hikers. All experienced outdoors people already understand that any stove is potentially dangerous and should be handled with care, especially when operated in the vicinity of a tent or tarp. Besides presenting a fire hazard, many stoves can also emit fair amounts of carbon monoxide which can be deadly if concentrated in closed spaces. If you decide to build your own Super Cat, you’re on your own - I can’t guarantee your safety nor indemnify you against accidents. I would, however, warn you not

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to attempt to use this stove with petroleum-based fuels such as automotive gasoline, kerosene or white gas (Coleman fuel). These fuels are much more volatile than are alcohol-based fuels and are dangerous to burn in open containers. Petroleum vapors can pool in low-lying areas and explode when exposed to flame. And just in case you’re feeling adventuresome and are tempted to try a higher energy content fuel (like white gas) in the Super Cat, you should also know that the elevated burn temperatures will probably melt the stove.

That said, alcohol-based stoves seem to be generally accepted as safe by most backpackers who use them, as long as they’re handled prudently. They are also said to emit little carbon monoxide, especially when compared with petroleum-fueled stoves, but I haven’t seen any conclusive data on this point thus far.

Nonetheless, because of the Super Cat’s negligible weight and other design features, there are a few potential hazards (described below) that are unique to this stove.

The Design

There are probably at least two dozen do-it-yourself alcohol stoves currently described in various places on the Internet. Most of these stove designs seem to fall into one of two categories: (1) non-pressurized and (2) pressurized. Non-pressurized models work by simply housing an open flame that’s created by burning expanding alcohol gases. These gases exist anytime that liquid alcohol is warm enough to evaporate, where the warmer the liquid, the faster the rate of evaporation. Examples include Roy Robinson’s Cat Stove and the Robert Crowley Plumber Stove.

Pressurized models restrict the expansion of this gas in some way in order to create gas “jets” that are purported to burn a little hotter than do non-pressurized flames. Since I’ve done no testing on my own, I can’t say for sure that it really makes any difference, but in either case, the Super Cat would probably be classified as a pressurized design. The term “pressurized” may also be a bit overstated, since the amount of back-pressure created by restricting the gas flow is very small - just enough, in fact, to force the expanding gas out through a series of burner holes. It’s nothing like the pressure, for example, that’s created by manually pumping an MSR white gas fuel bottle.

Probably the most significant thing that sets the Super Cat apart from other pressurized stoves such as Scott Henderson’s Pepsi-G, the Anti-Gravity Gear Tin Man, or the Brasslite stoves, is the simplicity of design. Most pressurized stoves require multiple components that must be taped, epoxied, or welded together in order to create their pressure chambers. The Super Cat’s pressure chamber, on the other hand, is created simply by placing a pot on top of the stove, thereby blocking the ability of the expanding gas to escape through the top, forcing the flames out through the vent holes on the sides.

The Super Cat design is also simpler than most others because it doesn’t require the use of a separate pot stand. The stove itself serves as both the burner element and the stand, since the pot is placed directly over the top of the stove.

Incidentally, this stove is named “Super” because it burns hotter and faster than other alcohol stoves whose specifications I’ve seen. I have consistently (under ideal, no-wind conditions) brought two cups of water from cool room temperature (60°F) to a full rolling boil in under four minutes, which is the fastest time I’ve noted so far, though I can’t guarantee the consistency of the test conditions. It’s also called “Super” since it’s super-easy to make and, at a weight of less than ¼ of an ounce, super-light. The “Cat” portion of the name was derived from its construction using a single, small, aluminum cat food can.

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The key materials necessary to build the Super Cat are shown below (Figure 1). Once these items are

collected, the project should take only 10 or 15 minutes to complete.

Fig 1: Required materials

The construction process involves punching two rows of holes in a clean, three ounce cat food can (or equivalent). Holding the can in one hand, use an awl in the other hand to create the holes as described below. Note that a drill can be also be used to make the holes, but I find punching to be faster and easier. The soft aluminum will yield quickly to a sharp awl or similar tool that’s turned against the walls of the can. Though not mandatory, I’d suggest that you protect the hand holding the can (I use a heavy leather glove) in order to avoid puncturing yourself along with the can and would further recommend the use of safety glasses.

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Fig 2: Super Cat stove dimensions

Start by punching a first row of holes, about 3/16” in diameter, with centers located about 5/8” from the bottom of the can, and spaced about 3/4” apart. This spacing should allow about 10 holes in the bottom row. You might want to first mark the positions with a felt-tipped pen.

Next, punch a second row of the same size holes near the can’s top lip. The hole centers should be about 3/8” from the top edge and approximately ½” apart. This spacing should yield 15 or 16 holes in the top

row (See Figure 2).

When the holes are punched, you’ll notice a ragged-edged “collar” around each hole inside the can. These collars can create turbulence in the flame jets, so it’s best to flatten them in order to get the smoothest possible gas flow. Use a pair of pliers with curved pinchers (so that you don’t also flatten the can rim), to gently “smash” down these edges. The photos below illustrate the process. Your Super Cat is now ready to test.

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Fig 3: Vent holes before flattening collars

Fig 4: Flattening vent hole collars

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Fig 5: Completed stove (this one with 4 extra vent holes)

Starting and Using the Stove

First, position the stove on a stable surface that won’t be damaged by high temperatures. The bottom of the stove will get very hot during operation, so don’t test it, for example, directly on your kitchen counter (unless you‘re already planning to replace the surface). Also be certain that the stove is sheltered from winds. The Super Cat is extremely lightweight and you don’t want it to blow over while burning, possibly spilling flaming alcohol on you or your equipment.

Next, measure about one fluid ounce of alcohol fuel and pour it into the bottom of the stove. Never, of course, fill a stove that is still hot from previous operation – it should be cool to the touch when adding fuel. Be sure to clean up any spills on your hands or other surfaces before proceeding. Also, place any flammable items (like matches or your fuel bottle) well away from the stove.

Now ignite the fuel, probably most easily done by extending a lighted match through one of the lower vent holes, or alternatively, into the stove from the top. Once the fuel has ignited, flames will emerge through the top, though it may be difficult to see in bright daylight. Placing your hand near the top of the stove will allow you to feel the warmth in order to confirm ignition.

Fig 6: Fuel ignited

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Wait 30 seconds or so to allow the flames to warm the stove and liquid alcohol, during which time you’ll note an increase in heat output. After this brief warm-up period, place your pot or other cooking container directly on top of the stove, making sure that it both covers completely, and is centered over, the top stove opening. With the pot in place, the combustion chamber should now pressurize and the flames should shift from emanating from the top of the stove to emerging from the side vent holes.

Fig 7: The Super Cat in operation

Note that if the flames are extinguished when placing your pot on the stove, then your stove is probably starved for oxygen (i.e., it’s running too “fuel rich”). To fix the problem, either add a few more vent holes or enlarge the existing ones slightly. Proceed slowly with this process, however. Too much oxygen will cause the flame to become “fuel lean” and turn yellow, significantly reducing the efficiency of the stove (more on fuel/air mixtures below).

Now cook for the desired time. You’ll find that one fluid ounce of fuel will last for 7 or 8 minutes, more than enough time, under most circumstances, to bring two cups of water to a boil. Beginning water temperature, wind conditions, elevation, and other factors will affect your boil times, so you can adjust your fuel “load” as appropriate.

To maximize your fuel efficiency, it’s best to use a tight-fitting lid on your pot and to surround the stove and pot with a windscreen if there’s even the slightest breeze. Directions for building windscreens can be found on many of the web sites referenced below along with lots of other useful information about alcohol stove burn times, efficiencies, fuel types and other matters that are beyond the scope of this description.

Finally, be careful if you need to remove the pot from the top of the stove while the stove is in operation. Some of the things that can happen:

(1)  Lifting the pot quickly and vertically off the stove can create a momentary vacuum inside the combustion chamber. The flames on the sides of the stove will disappear, but an instant later, will likely re-appear with a “whoosh” back inside of the stove. What’s happening is that the expanding alcohol gases go unburned for a moment when the outside flames are extinguished, but then ignite again inside. I don’t think this phenomenon is particularly dangerous, though it can be a bit startling

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the first time it happens. It’s not nearly as significant, however, as the flare-ups that can sometimes occur with white gas stoves when they ignite.

The best way to prevent this from happening is to lift the pot slowly and move it sideways off the burner. This way, the transition from outside flames to inside flames can occur smoothly, without a flame-out/re-ignition cycle. Should the flame extinguish, but not re-ignite on its own, you’ll need to manually re-light it.

(2) Sometimes during operation, a little alcohol might collect on the underside of your pot. When you remove the pot from the stove, this alcohol can continue to burn for a few moments, making it appear as though the bottom of your pot is on fire. This small flame is easy to extinguish, however, by either blowing it out or by setting the pot on the ground to smother it.

(3) If the bottom of your pot or the top rim of the stove becomes gummy with cooking residues, the stove could (because it’s so lightweight) actually stick to the pot bottom. When you then lift the pot, the stove could lift along with it. A moment later, it could also “un-stick” and fall, spilling flaming alcohol everywhere. To avoid this problem, always keep the pot bottom and top stove rim free of sticky substances.

Stopping the Stove

As with most alcohol stoves, you should usually plan to let the stove burn itself out. Unless the fuel is almost spent, it’s probably fruitless to try to blow out the flame. The Super Cat may, however, be stopped prior to burn-out in a couple of other ways:

1. In an emergency, you can douse the stove with water. The flames can be extinguished in this way without concern about spreading them (as with a grease fire).

2. The flames can also be quickly extinguished if deprived of oxygen. One way to suffocate the burn is to use your empty cook pot as a “snuffer” by inverting it over the stove. The less air that is trapped under the pot, the more quickly the flames will extinguish. I normally use a Snow Peak Trek 1400 titanium cook set (shown in the photos) whose top is also a small (2 cup) fry pan. When this fry pan is used as a snuffer, the flame goes out in a second or two. You can also make a dedicated “snuffer cup” from any lightweight aluminum can that is slightly larger than the stove. A standard 5.5 ounce pet food can works perfectly and weighs only about ½ an ounce.

Fig 8: Super Cat stove with “snuffer cup”

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If there’s fuel remaining after a “snuff-out”, it can be returned to your fuel bottle after first making sure that it’s had time to cool. It may, however, contain debris or other contaminants that you might not want to empty into your clean fuel supply. If left in the stove, this fuel residue will quickly evaporate.

Fuels and Capacities

In the course of testing the stove thus far, I have tried four kinds of fuels. The best results have come from denatured alcohol, which burns hot and clean with virtually no odor or soot production. Denatured alcohol is widely available; the type I used was found in the paint department at Wal-Mart and cost $3.67 a quart.

Fig 9: Fuels tested

I also wanted to try ethyl alcohol (the kind in alcoholic beverages), but the most concentrated form I could find was in Bacardi 151 proof rum. Pure grain alcohol, at 200 proof, is not available in this area. The Bacardi burned well, but the internal vapor pressure was not quite sufficient to cause the flames to switch to the outside of the stove. Bacardi 151 could therefore be used as a fuel for the Super Cat, but only in non-pressurized mode using a separate pot stand (three tent stakes placed around the stove at the proper distances and heights work well as pot supports).

91% isopropyl rubbing alcohol (from the drug store) worked reasonably well, with boil and total burn times only slightly longer than denatured alcohol. However, isopropyl is somewhat smelly when burning and also leaves a coating of black soot on the bottom and sides of the pot.

I was also curious to see if the stove would work when burning Esbit solid fuel tablets that are popular with many long-distance backpackers. Though the heat output from the tablets seemed to be about the same as with denatured alcohol, the combustion chamber would not pressurize. The tablets also left a gummy reside inside the stove and on the underside of the pot.

And finally, I will note that the fuel reservoir capacity of the Super Cat described here is around 1.5 fluid ounces, which should provide a burn time of up to 12 minutes or so (depending on conditions) if full. To increase the effective burn time, one could use two stoves, moving the pot back and forth between them. As stove #1 showed signs of burning out, stove #2 could be lighted and the pot could be transferred a few moments later. Stove #1 then could then be allowed to cool, then re-filled and re-lighted if desired. The total burn time in this case would be limited only by the available fuel supply. Alternatively of course, one could also try building a larger version of the stove.

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Additional Notes

Because I’ve already accomplished my primary goal with the Super Cat, I will probably now suspend my R&D efforts. At this point, I happily place what I’ve learned about this stove into the public domain, and anyone who has an interest in pursuing the design further is free to do so. To support those efforts, I will offer a few observations that I’ve made in connection with some of the design modifications I’ve tried:

1. Although the Super Cat described above is made from a 3 oz aluminum can, other cans might work just as well. I have found, however, that it becomes more difficult to adequately pressurize the alcohol gas if larger cans are used. I’ve also discovered that the greater the interior volume of the stove, the larger and/or more numerous the vent holes need to be. I’ve further noticed that larger vent holes create “fatter” flame jets that seem to be more prone to disturbance by air movements than are smaller-sized flame jets.

You might decide to try a different can if you’re concerned about supporting heavier loads. For example, you could use a steel, rather than aluminum can for added strength. If a particular can has the right diameter but is too tall, it can probably be cut down with tin snips, though a drill may need to be used to create vent holes in a steel can.

When considering other cans, just remember that because the cooking flames emanate from the sides of the stove, you don’t want to use a can that’s too wide relative to the width of your cook pot. Otherwise, most of the heat will go up the sides of your pot. Likewise a can that’s too small will create an unstable platform, possible causing your pot/stove to tip over. If you use multiple pots on the trail, you can always take along multiple Super Cats of varying sizes that can be nested inside of one another during transport.

2. The size, number and placement of the stove vent holes will have an impact on the fuel/air mixture, the maximum temperature of the burn, the fuel capacity of the stove, and the strength of the stove side walls. The hole configuration described above is a good starting point, but feel free to experiment. More or larger holes may increase the burn rate and/or flame temperature, but may also weaken the walls of the stove along with its ability to support your pot. Likewise, moving the bottom row of holes too close to the bottom of the can will decrease the fuel reservoir capacity of the stove and, correspondingly, increase the likelihood that fuel will splash out when the reservoir is filled.

If you find that the stove’s flame is a consistent dark blue color (best observed in dim light), seems to be weak or struggling, “pumps” or pulsates while burning in calm air, or is extinguished when the pot is placed on the stove, then it’s probably not getting enough oxygen (burning too rich). Either add a few holes or increase the size of existing holes, As noted above, however, proceed slowly with your modifications, since the balance can quickly switch to burning too lean.

If the flame is burning mostly yellow, then the stove is probably getting too much oxygen. This problem is harder to fix since once a hole is made, it can’t be un-made. If this happens, either start over with a new stove, or try using high-temperature flue tape (made by 3M and others) to create small, temporary patches that can be applied over existing holes. You can then conduct one or more experiments, applying and removing patches as necessary, to arrive at an optimal fuel/air mixture. Once you get the hole configuration right, you can then apply it to a new stove. The temporary patches probably would not last very long in the field.

I have found that the ideal flame color is mostly medium blue with occasional flashes of yellow. An efficient flame will also burn at a steady pace in calm air.

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3. I tried lining the bottom of the stove with a small amount of fiberglass wicking material, held in place by a patch of aluminum screen. Many of the alcohol stoves described by others use fiberglass as a wicking agent, so I thought I’d give it a try. About the only impact it had was to slow the stove down a bit. Boil and total burn times both increased by about 25%.

4. The Super Cat is clearly not optimized for simmering. If I need to simmer a meal, I will simply cook it on the canister stove. Other alcohol stoves use rings or spacers to allow for simmering, but I’ve not tried any of these methods with the Super Cat. This might be an interesting project for someone else to take on.

5. I’ve also not tested the stove under very cold or high altitude conditions. It’s been reported that denatured alcohol has problems vaporizing when seriously chilled. In this situation, it might be possible to fill the reservoir with fuel, then carefully warm the underside of the stove with a lighted match in order to get the fuel to vaporize. In extremely cold conditions, however, one is probably better off using a white gas stove.

High altitudes will almost certainly impact the fuel/air mixture of the Super Cat, but I’ve not yet tested these effects. I hope to do so this summer.

Contact Information

I’d be interesting in hearing about your experiences with the Super Cat, so please feel free to email me. To help prevent web site harvesting by spammers, the address below must be re-typed into a standard email format:

jwood [at] timberwolf [dot] us

Yet Another Alcohol StoveAlcohol stoves are inexpensive, lightweight alternatives to commercial backpacking stoves. They are used primarily for boiling water to rehydrate dehydrated meals. If your camp cooking is more complicated than that, or if you need to cook for more than 1 person, this stove may not be for you.

In my quest for the perfect alcohol stove, I have experimented with several designs. After learning how these stoves function, I designed my own. I call it the Yaas stove, since it is Yet Another Alcohol Stove. My own hardly-scientific tests show that it boils water faster than any other alcohol stove I have tried.

The Yaas stove works on the same principle as the Cat stove and the Pika Stove. And is a variation of the Sqrl Stove. It weights about 1/2 as much as the Cat stove.

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Brian Robinson, whose father designed the Cat stove, explains why chimney style alcohol stoves, such as the Cat stove and Yaas stove, work better than pressurized alcohol stoves.

The vent holes in my Cat stove are too large, causing the Cat stove to leak fuel if a full ounce of fuel is poured into it. The Yaas stove burns as hot as a Cat stove, but will hold 2 ounces of fuel. With 1 ounce of fuel I was able to bring 2 cups of water to a rolling boil in about 4 minutes 20 seconds. There are many factors that affect boiling times and fuel requirements. You should conduct your own tests before using this stove in the back country.

After this page was posted, I was contacted by Deems Burton, the designer of the Pika stove. After some discussion we agreed that while the Yaas stove may burn hotter that his Pika stove, and bring water to a boil faster, the Pika stove uses less fuel. If you are looking for a fuel efficient alcohol stove, and are willing to wait a minute or two longer for water to boil, the Pika stove would be a better stove for you.

[Update] I have recently tried changing the size of the top vent hole on the Yaas stove. I have been able to reduce the amount of fuel needed to bring water to a boil, though I have not reached the efficiency of the Pike stove. The new template has a pattern for cutting a smaller top vent hole. My hardly scientific tests show that with a 1 1/2 inch or 1 1/4 inch vent hole, the Yaas stove will bring two cups of water to a rolling boil in about 5 1/2 minutes on one ounce of fuel, and will continue burning for one minute longer. This means that the amount of fuel needed can be reduced, though 1/2 ounce of fuel was not enough to bring the water to a boil. With a 1 inch vent hole, the Yaas stove does not put out enough heat to bring water to a boil.

The Yaas stove is designed to burn denatured alcohol only. Attempting to burn other fuels, such as white gas, will result in a large orange flame that makes a sooty mess. White gas will not burn hot enough in this stove to boil water. OK, it might, but I'm not going to try it.

Because alcohol stoves cannot be shut off mechanically, you should use the same precautions with an alcohol stove that you would with any open flame in the backcountry. Alcohol stoves may not be allowed in areas that have restrictions on fires, and may not be safe in high winds.

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Three 12 oz aluminum pop cans.The Yaas stove template.Epoxy (optional).Fiberglass insulation.


Utility knife.Scissors.Hole punch.


Various scraps of wood, or other items that will stack up to 7/8 inch tall and 1 7/16 tall respectively.

Step 1: Cut out the burner hole.

Stand one of the pop cans bottom side up. Use the knife to score the can around the inside of the ridge on the bottom of the can.

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Score an X inside this circle.

Cut along each score from the center of the can to the ridge.

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Break out the four pieces leaving a round hole.

Step 2: Cut down two of the cans.

Cut the pop can with the burner hole down to 7/8 inches tall from the bottom. Cut the other can 1 7/16 inch tall from the bottom of the can.

The best way to mark where to cut the cans is to find something that is the correct height, or several items that will stack up to the correct height. Place the flat side of the utility knife on top if these items with the point barely hanging over. Stand the can next to the knife point, and rotate the can while pushing it into the knife point. Cut the can

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along this mark with scissors. Or continue rotating the can until the knife point cuts through the can.

In this illustration I am using a scrap of 1 x 4 on top of a scrap of 1/8 inch masonite. To measure the base I use two pieces of 1 x 4 and set the can on top of a scrap if 1/16 inch sheet metal next to them. 3/4 + 3/4 - 1/16 = 23/16 = 1-7/16.

An alternative is use the strips on page 2 of the template. For each can cut out one of the strips. Wrap it around one of the pop cans and tape down the end. Stand the can up on a table top and slide the strip down until it rests on the table. Tape the top edge in place. Cut the can along the top edge of the strip. This method is less accurate, so it should only be used if you cannot accurately measure the heights of the cans in another way.

Step 3: Stretch the base can.

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The can with the burner hole must fit inside of the taller can without ripping it. Take the third can, which has not been cut down, and work the bottom of it into the opening of the base can. Push it in. Pull it out. Rotate it. Twist it. Stretch out the first 1/2 inch of the opening of the base can just enough to allow the top can to fit inside of it. Don't try to stretch the base all at once. If you work too fast, you will ruin the base.

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The base can can also be stretched be placing it on its side on top of material that has some give. Place the end of a dowel inside the can. Slide the dowel around the perimeter of the while pushing down, causing the can to roll.

Step 4: Punch holes.

Cut out each of the strips on page 1 of the template. Wrap the wider strip around the base can with the indicated edge of the strip along the cut edge of the can. Wrap the narrower strip around the top can with the indicated edge of the strip along the cut edge of the can.

Punch holes as indicated by the marks on each strip. Remove each strip.

Step 5: Cut teeth in the top can.

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The bottom of each hole in the top can should be cut out with scissors. This will result in a row of "teeth" along the cut edge of the can.

Cut one of the "teeth" shorter than the others. This will make it easier to fit the two pieces together.

Step 6: Pre-fit the pieces.

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Working from the side opposite the shortest "tooth," slide the top piece inside of the base piece. Be careful not to split the base can. Make sure the pieces fit and the holes line up.

Step 7: Epoxy the pieces together.

The stove will function just fine without the pieces being epoxied together. Expoxying the stove together will add to its strength.

Pull the two pieces apart, then apply a thin coat of epoxy to each of the "teeth" on the top can. Working from the side opposite the shortest "tooth," slide the top piece back into the base, making sure that the holes line up.

Step 8: Fill with fiberglass insulation.

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Cut a piece if fiberglass insulation large enough to fill the bottom of the stove up to the bottom of the holes. Insert the fiberglass insulation inside of the stove. Be careful not to block any of the holes.

You may need to trim some of the fiberglass from the bottom center of the piece of insulation to allow it to fit over the bump in the bottom of the stove. If there are thin spots in the insulation, they can be filled in with scraps. All of the pieces will hold together after the stove has been used the first time.

The stove is complete.

The stove should be used with a pot stand and wind screen. To operate the stove, fill it with 1 ounce of denatured alcohol. Light the alcohol. Place the pot stand over the stove. Place the wind screen around the stove. Place the pot on the pot stand. The amount of alcohol needed will vary depending on the amount of water being boiled and environmental conditions such as ambient temperature, water temperature, wind, etc.

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Instructions for building a wind screen can be found on the internet. I like the windscreen design provided by Sgt. Rock. I make two modifications. I staple the joints, and I punch holes every 1/2 inch.

Instructions for building a pot stand can be found here.


Yet Another Pot StandThe Yaas pot stand is based on the Go-Torch pot stand.

The stand can be built taller or shorter, but should be built to fit inside of your pot when folded. These instructions will make a stand 3-1/4 inches tall and small enough to fit inside of a pot with a 5-1/2 inch diameter.

The stand is built with coat hanger wire. Variations in the diameter of coat hanger wire will affect how well this pot stand design works.


Wire coat hanger.3/16 inch aluminum tubing, available at hobby shops.(The exact diameter of the tubing will depend on the gauge of the coat

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hanger wire. Use the largest diameter tube that two pieces of hanger wire cannot fit into without flattening the tube.)Three spent .22 caliber shells.Epoxy.


Pliers.Wire cutters.Tube cutter.Pen.Ruler.Scratch paper.Hammer or vice.

Step 1: Prepare the hanger.

Cut the hook off of the hanger and straighten the hanger wire.

Step 2: Bending to shape.

Make a mark 3 inches from one end of the hanger wire.

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Using pliers, bend the wire at the mark to about 90 degrees.

Make a mark 3 inches from the outside of the bend.

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Use pliers to bend the wire at this mark to about 90 degrees.

Measure from the end of the wire to the outside of the first bend.

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Use this measure to mark where to cut the wire so that both legs will be the same length.

Cut the wire at this point.

Bend and cut a second piece of wire to match the first piece.

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Reshape both wire pieces so that each angle is slightly more than 90 degrees.

Step 3: Putting it together.

Measure from one end of the wire to the inside of the first bend. Cut a piece of aluminum tubing to this length.

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The tubing will need to be flattened slightly into an oval shape. You can flatten it in a vice, or tap it lightly with a hammer down the length of the tube on both sides of the tube.

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Insert one end of one piece of wire into the tube until the end of the tube reaches the first bend in the wire.

Do the same with the second piece of wire, inserting the end of the wire into the same end of the tube. This should be a very snug fit. It will take some effort to get both wires into the tube. Push them all the way in, but not far enough to cause the end of the tube to flair. The ends of the wires should both be flush with the end of the tube. The tube should hold both wires tightly while allowing them to pivot. The tube will act as a hinge allowing the stand to be folded and unfolded.

Step 4: Apply feet.

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This step is optional. If you have used a heavier coat hanger wire, you will have to use a tube larger than 3/16 inch, and a .22 caliber shell foot will not fit over the tube.

Each wire now has one end in the aluminum tube and one end free. Fill one of the spent .22 caliber shells with epoxy and push the free end of one of the wires into the shell. Remove any excess epoxy. Let the epoxy set.

Do the same for the other free leg.

Using pliers, slightly flatten the remaining .22 caliber shell so that it will slip over the flattened aluminum tube. Fill this shell about 1/2 full of epoxy, and push the end of the aluminum tube into it. Remove any excess epoxy. As the epoxy sets, fold and unfold the stand a few times to prevent the epoxy from causing the wires to seize inside of the aluminum tube.

The pot stand is complete.

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To use the stand, simply unfold it so that the top forms two sides of an equilateral triangle.

To pack the stand, fold the legs together and place it in the bottom of your pot.


Contributed by: Rob Marco, 1999

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A sub-2 lb. 3-season down bag for $90 ? Get outta here!!...

Have you ever lain in bed at night thinking about the day when you'll be able to score a Feathered Friends or Western Mountaineering sleeping bag? Or toss and turn restlessly wondering how you'll be able to finance the down payment for one of them? Well I've got a solution that may help you sleep easier: Make your own bag!

I've been making my own gear for a couple years now, and sleeping bags are one of my favorite things to make. When you think about it, there's nothing too complicated that prevents you from making one--they're basically a quilt sewn together at both sides. How hard is that!? Well, it's a little bit more complicated than that, but hopefully I'll be able to walk you through it with the plans for making your own down mummy bag. I'm convinced that these bags are lighter than the bigger retailers and cost almost three times less to make.

My biggest surprise after making one of these bags is how similar it was to $250+ down bags I saw in the store...even the best quality FF and WM. The 20 degree model packs down to about 7"x14", and weighs approximately. 1lb. 15 oz. Not bad, eh?


Sleeping bags don't get a whole lot of stress in comparison to items like boots and tents. Therefore, constructing bags from the lightest material available is the best way

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to go to shave ounces (or pounds) off your pack weight while at the same time maintaining a high level of durability.

I use 1.1oz ripstop nylon for both the inner and outer shell, and 700 fill power down for the fill. For colder weather bags, I use a half zipper, #5 YKK, and for summer bags I use a full length #3 YKK. Aside from a small piece of hook&loop (velcro), a drawstring, and no-see-um netting for the baffles, that's all you need to construct a bag.

However, this stuff can be expensive. 700 fill power offers a great amount of loft, but is VERY hard to purchase retail. I had to order a minimum of 5lbs that ran me over $360! This is by far the most expensive part of the bag, but when you think about it, since it's a loftier down, you can use less of it--therefore, carrying and paying for less.

Dimensions are up to you, but I go with the traditional 60"x54"x38". The hood is a simple design, but does the trick. Half zipper or full zipper...it's up to you! A draft tube to go along with it. I'll give instructions for my own stature (6 foot male, 155lbs) and you can modify however you want.


The day I learned how to design baffles I felt like the enlightened Buddha! I'll explain how to go about it in the steps. The baffles for these bags are basically long rectangular strips of noseeum netting that acted as 'walls' to separate and keep the down in individualized compartments. You can design em anyway you want, but lately I've been working with continuous straight-block baffles, that is, the down can be shifted from top to bottom or vise-versa without interruption, and they run perpendicular to the fabric (as opposed to slant-box baffles, which are off-set and set at angles). For lightweight summer bags, baffles are not commonly used, which makes construction easier. I'll try to give instructions for both types. Remember also that the temperature rating for a bag is based on how much loft the bag has. A summer bag typically has about 3" of loft (1.5" top, 1.5" bottom), and 20 degree bags about 6" (3"top, 3" bottom). Therefore, I usually make the baffles about 3.5" in height, and the length about 60" (or shorter, depending how close you get to the foot section of the bag).

Notes: You gotta have a sewing machine to do this (obviously). Thread type doesn't matter too much, but make sure it's not too thick. You want to use the smallest needle possible so you don't make big holes (facilitates down leakage), and i also use a low-thread count (8-10per inch) for the same reason. I've been sewing for a couple years, so I know how to do a lot of seams and stitches that

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makes for a nicer looking and higher quality bag. They are hard to explain, so I'm not going to try. A background in sewing helps...I don't know the names for the stitches, so I'll just try to give you the best idea I can. The best thing you can do when making a bag is use an existing bag to model from, so you'll get an idea of what I'm *trying to explain.

The Steps

Start out by making a newspaper cutout pattern. Construct it in the traditional mummy fashion, but make it so it represents one side of the mummy bag, like your looking at a bag from a bird's eye view. The cutouts should be identical, except that one will have a semi-circular extension at the top (the hood). Be sure to allow yourself more material than you think you will need to allow for seams..it's better to have a bag that's too big rather than too small.

The sheet of material should measure 60" in width by 2.5 yards (7.5 feet). Note:  make sure after cutting out the patterns from the material, to run the edges over a candle flame so they don't fray (if you didn't use a hot knife).

Most material is 60" in width. This should give you enough room to get the tops and bottoms of the bag, if you invert both patterns. Typical dimensions are 59-62" shoulder girth, 52-56" hip girth, 39-40" foot circumference. The shell is constructed of 4 parts: the inside and outside TOP part, and the inside and outside BOTTOM part. The bottom part is longer, since there is an approximate. 16" diameter semicircle as part of the pattern which is to be the hood. The top (near the chin area), can be cut straight across or with a slight (apr ox 6") concavity. Once the patterns are cut, sew the two patterns that look DIFFERENT along the sides. In other words, the outside shells are sewn together along the sides, as well as the inside shells. Still confused? The longer pattern with the hood is sewn to the shorter pattern along the side. Sew with about a 1/2" seam allowance, and invert so the seam is hidden.

After that, cut the baffles. No-see-um netting is the best. Temp rating is determined by loft of both the TOP AND BOTTOM part of the bag. Typically, a 20degree bag has about 6" of loft, so if you laid the bag out like a quilt (open), the loft would be 3". So make the baffles as high as you need. For 20degree bags, cut baffles about 3 1/2" (the final baffle will be about 3" high). Since shoulder girth is typically around 60", this is as long as the shoulder baffle needs to be for that area, since these instructions are for CONTINUOUS baffled bags. As you move farther down the bag, baffles decrease in length.

It gets crowded in there when you start sewing the baffles, so it helps to draw

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parallel lines on the INSIDE of the shells to determine where the baffle needs to be sewn. Baffle width is usually 5 1/2"-6 1/2", so measure up from the bottom and draw parallel lines across spaced about this distance from each other. Remember, you are drawing these lines only on the inside, and they go straight across both the HOODED and NONHOODED pattern, WHICH ARE SEWN TOGETHER. It's hard to visualize, I Know.

Before you start sewing the baffles in place, place the two patterns together so they are identical. Remember, there are only TWO patterns now, since they are composed of two separate parts for each pattern. Place them together so the INSIDE of the shells (where you drew the lines) are on the outside of the bag, where you can see them. Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance along the top of the pattern; in other words, along where your chin would be, and where the circumference of the hood semi-circle is. Do this as you did the side seam, and invert in order to hide the seam. Then once the lines you drew are now on the INSIDE, sew the two pieces together about 1/2" from the seam you just made. You will be able to see the stitching on this part. This is to contain the drawcord.

Next, sew the baffle strips along the lines you drew, on only one Pattern. It helps to tuck over a small allowance so you can sew through TWO parts of the no-see-um as opposed to one, for added strength.

This next step is very important. You MUST start at the very TOP of the bag, the first baffle in the hood section. It is very hard to describe in words, but this is the only way to do it. Sew the other side of the baffle to the other side of the shell, which has lines on it, but has not been sewn yet. You have to stuff the down in this first (and the second) compartment first, before sewing other baffles, or you won't be able to get it in there. Repeat for the second compartment.

Now you can sew all other baffles and save the filling for later. Do one baffle strip at a time, sewn to each drawn line, and work your way down to the foot of the bag.

Now sew the bottom of the bag together so the down won't spill out when you stuff it. Sew parallel to the drawn lines and tuck the ends in so they won't fray.

Next, sew a zipper on one side of the bag, again tucking in the fabric so it doesn't fray. Then hand fill the chambers with down on the open end, and sew the other zipper to seal the chambers.

Making a square foot box is the easiest way to go about this task. If the bottom length of the bag is say 40", make the square pocket 5"x15", or 6"x14", so that the perimeter of the box is also 40". Sew the box on three sides, with tucked seams, and seal the fourth side after filling. Then sew the foot box to the bottom

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of the bag along the perimeter of the bottom.

Insert a drawcord and stitch each side to keep it in place. Cut two small holes and have the cord come out near the side seam, insert a barrel lock, and since up the hood. You can do a velcro closure near the top of the zipper if you feel like it. Remember not to forget zipper stops.

* The best thing to do when making a bag is to have one available to use as a model.

A lot of the things I was describing are hard to visualize without seeing them.

My first sleeping bag was pretty crude, but worked well. Good luck!

How to Build a Soda Can StoveIf all you want to do is boil water, consider making the cat food can stove instead of the soda can stove. It's even easier to make than the soda can stove—plus it's lighter and acts as a built-in pot support! But if you need to do more than boil water, you're in the right place!

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Materials List

Most materials you need are probably already laying about your place. The one thing you might not have is a tape that won't burn when you use your stove! You can find a high-temperature tape in any decent hardware store. It's designed to be used on flues or mufflers or something—I don't really know. But it's made of material that won't burn or melt. A roll should cost under $10, but you can probably make a hundred stoves from a single roll. You don't need much!

soda cans — a minimum of two are required, but a few extras for mistakes, simmer rings, and such could be useful. Get a six-pack and have a party! =)

ruler or measuring tape scratch awl or other sharp instrument heavy-duty x-acto knife (or something similar) Sharpie scissors high-temperature tape (a.k.a. metal tape, aluminum tape, foil tape, muffler tape, or basically

any kind of tape that won't burn)

Some people claim that the Pepsi can is the superior soda can option. I've used cans of Coke, root beer, and even grape soda and never noticed any difference, so drink what you like. It doesn't really make any difference!

Step 1: Create Burner Holes

Poke holes along the bottom edge of one of the cans with the scratch awl. Some people say smaller holes are more fuel efficient. Some people like bigger holes since it burns faster and hotter. I like 'normal' holes. The number of holes isn't especially important—just so long as they go around the rim more-or-less evenly. I typically poke two holes on opposite sides, then two more holes halfway between the original holes. Then four more holes between those first four. And then another eight holes between those first eight for a total of 16 holes.

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Step 2: Create Main Opening

Cut out the bottom of the can you just poked the holes in. The can is fairly thick here, so it needs to be a sturdy instrument to do this. An X-acto knife would work, but use one with a heavy-duty blade on it. I'm using a knife from a Speedball linoleum cutting kit. Use whatever you have available. If the edges turn out particularly jagged, you can file them down now. (Or later, or not at all—doesn't matter to me!)

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Step 3: Cut Out Stove Top

Measure up 20mm (3/4 in) from the bottom of the can and cut. This will be the top of your stove. To get an even cut, I mark a point at 20mm, then keep a Sharpie steady on a table while turning the can around against it. A clean, even mark completely around the can every time! It's easier to get a clean cut if you first do a rough cut to get the end of the can separated, then a second cut directly along the mark where it needs to be.

Step 4: Cut Tabs on Stove Top

Snip the edges of the stove top several times to form tabs. We'll be fitting the top of the stove into the bottom of the stove and these little tabs help insure it fits! I make eight evenly spaced snips around the stove top, to a point just below where the paint on the can stops.

Step 5: Cut Out Stove Bottom

Now it's time to grab a new can and cut out the bottom of it. Don't poke holes in it or cut out the bottom like you did for the top of the stove. This time, measure 25mm (1 in) from the bottom of

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the can and cut. If you want to get wild and crazy, you can make your stove as tall or short as you want by adjusting this measurement so it's 10mm shorter than the final height you desire for the stove. For your first stove, stick with the standard 25mm. Measure, mark, and cut.

Step 6: Cut Out Inner Wall

And now, the inner wall. Take the left over remains of one of the two previous cans you cut up. If you didn't mangle them too badly, you can cut out an inner wall from one of those. Otherwise, you'll have to operate on a third can. You need to cut out a strip that's 35mm (1 1/3 in) wide. (If you're going crazy and making your stove shorter or taller, measure to the desired height of your stove. In this case, our stove will be 35mm in height.)

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Step 7: Size the Inner Wall

Size the inner wall in the stove bottom. You'll cut halfway through the strip on each end on opposite sides of the strip where the ends will lock together. When you lock the ends together, make sure the ends of the strip are inside the loop. It's self-locking and more stable that way. I've put a red X with the photo that shows the incorrect way to lock the ends of the inner wall.

Step 8: Trim the Inner Wall

Trim the inner wall. You can cut a small bit off the ends of the strip off to save a tiny smidgen of weight, but it's very important to cut three small notches about equal distance around one side of the strip. This allows the fuel to flow through the inner wall to the outer wall.

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Step 9: Putting the Pieces Together

It's time to put the three pieces together. Start by placing the inner wall in the stove bottom, with the notched ends down. Then fit the top of the stove on, tucking the 'tabs' you snipped earlier inside of the stove bottom. A couple of hints to get that top on—it's not as easy as you may think! The sharp edges of the 'tabs' tend to get caught up when putting in the top, so curve the tabs slightly inward before you begin. You can see I've done this in the second photo below where it gives the top piece a ruffled look. The last bit of the top is hardest to squeeze in, so use a knife or some other thin object like a shoehorn to get it pushed in. Check that the inner wall is fitting into the grove of the stove top properly. Work the top on slowly and evenly, and eventually it'll all fit together like a puzzle.

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Step 10: Taping It All Together

The stove should stay in one piece due to nothing more than the friction of the pieces, but it's not very secure like this. Use the high temperature tape to keep the stove together permanently. Depending on the width of the tape, you may have to cut it in half like I did. Then wrap it around the stove, securing the top and bottom of the stove together.

Step 11: Create a Simmer Ring (optional)

This optional simmer ring comes in handy if you want to bake yourself a treat or if a recipe calls for the food to simmer. It's made from the top of a soda can. Take off the tabs, then cut it out to just where the can curves downward the length of the can. Leave a little too much, then trim a small bit off at a time until it fits snugly over your stove.

Step 12: Create a Snuffer (optional)

This snuffer, when placed over a stove, will help you put it out. In general, I recommend just letting whatever leftover alcohol simply burn off. Once, while trying to conserve fuel, I tried to

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put the flame out, knocked the stove into my lap instead, and lit my crotch on fire. Really, let the alcohol burn off! But if you absolutely must conserve fuel, use this optional snuffer. It will starve the stove of oxygen and snuff out the flame. Usually a little oxygen still gets in so you have to tap the lid (not with a finger!) or pour water on it to get the flame completely out, but it will work.

Warnings aside, create the snuffer much like you did with the simmer ring, but use the bottom of a can instead of the top of it. Cut it too high, then trim off thin slices until it fits snugly over the stove.

That's it! You're done!