6 Simple Steps to Building Your Own Camp Stove

outdoor cooking

If you've ever gone shopping for camping stoves and wondered if you could save money by learning how to build your own camp stove, then you've come to the right place. In this article, you will learn how to build a simple, useful and portable style of camp stove, built from nothing more than recycled cans and a few cheap building supplies you may have just laying around the house.

Important Camp Stove Considerations

Building your own camp stove can be a lot of fun, but before you get started there are a number of very important safety concerns that you need to be aware of. These include:

  1. Cuts: There are a wide variety of build your own camp stove designs, and most of them involve cutting metal cans. When you cut metal cans, there are razor sharp edges left, so it's important to avoid those edges after cutting, and then sand them down so that they aren't sharp.
  2. Explosions: Most of the camping stoves use slow-burning cooking stove fuel. The most commonly used (because it's so easily accessible) is denatured alcohol. This is also commonly sold as marine stove fuel. Some DIY stove enthusiasts also use solid fuels. Before you start building your stove, plan ahead and determine what fuel you want to use. Using incorrect, explosive fuels creates a very dangerous risk of explosion and serious injury, so fully research the fuel you choose before attempting to light it.
  3. Burns: In addition to the explosive danger of using the wrong fuel, there's also the risk of getting burned during the lighting of your stove. Always use a long handled candle lighter so that your hand is free from the slow-burning, but very hot flame that this fuel gives off when burning.
  4. Scalding: The DIY camping stove designs are usually made from small cans, so you'll need to fabricate some sort of strong metal platform or frame that you can place your pans over so that they rest just above your stove and the flame. Poorly designed pot stands can result in boiling water or food tipping over and scalding anyone nearby.

How to Build Your Own Camp Stove in 6 Easy Steps

Now that you're prepared to build your camp stove, the process is actually very simple and should only take 20 to 30 minutes. In fact, some people simply bring along the tools they need and fabricate a camp stove out of the cans that they generate during camping. This not only makes it very easy to pack your supplies for camping or backpacking, but it also recycles the waste that you generate while you're in the woods. The following design takes advantage of the dynamics of air flow and how fuels burn. Air must somehow enter the canister or the flame will burn out.

Getting Together the Supplies

The stove you're going to build with these instructions requires two cans, one slightly smaller than the other. There are many food items sold in various sized cans that are shaped perfectly for this purpose - such as tuna fish, cat food or even canned vegetables. This particular design uses a 6 ounce can and a 3 ounce can. For tools, you'll need a rotary cutting tool (or you can use a very sharp knife and hammer if you're very careful), sandpaper, a can opener, a hole punch and needle-nose pliers or a screwdriver.

Building the Camping Stove

The procedure to build this particular style burner is as follows.

  1. Entirely remove one end of the larger can with a can opener.
  2. Out of the other end of the larger can, cut a hole about one and a half inches wide using your rotary tool, or by tracing out the hole and then punching out sections of it with a hammer (or rock) and sharp knife.
  3. For safety, carefully sand the edge of the hole until it is no longer sharp.
  4. Using a triangle punch can opener, create six to eight holes from the open end of the can. Six will dampen the size of the flame, while eight will create a burner with a larger flame.
  5. Using the hole punch, create evenly spaced holes near the open rim of the smaller can (spaced about a quarter inch apart.)
  6. Using pliers or a screwdriver, uncurl the pieces of metal that you pushed into the larger can with your can opener in step 4. Then insert the smaller can, open end first, into the open end of the larger can. The metal flaps will hold the smaller can in place. You can push them firmly against the inner can if necessary.

Your stove is finished. If you observe the design carefully, you can see that while the flame shoots out of the hole that you cut out of the top, the only way for air to get to the fuel is through the large holes (or under the can) up the side of the smaller can and into the small holes at the top. This slows the burn of the fuel enough so that you'll have a nice, hot, slow-burning flame for 15 to 30 minutes or longer.

Cooking With Your Homemade Stove

It's important to understand that your "stove" is actually a burner. Your burner is hot and small, so you'll need to fabricate an outer shell that you can place pots or pans on top of for cooking - never cook food directly on top of your burner. Most people will trim an 8 to 12 inch wide sheet of sheet metal, curl it into a circle and then place a small grill grate on top. Once you're cooking on your homemade camp stove, you can feel proud that you're truly camping green by using a camp stove made out of only recycled products.

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6 Simple Steps to Building Your Own Camp Stove