Home > Gear, ultralight bicycle touring > FREE Ultralight Alcohol Stove!!

FREE Ultralight Alcohol Stove!!

Here’s another do-it-yourself project to lighten your load and warm camp. These simple stoves have been a favorite of UL Backpackers for years.  They require a little priming, but once the alcohol begins to vaporize they put out a tremendous amount of heat.  One drawback to alcohol stoves is the need to carry a fuel bottle (for a free fuel bottle use an empty and clean plastic water bottle).  Another concern is the flame is invisible in daylight.  You can set yourself on fire and not realize it till you smell flesh burning.

Here’s how to build your own:

You’ll need two soda cans, a thumb tack, a marker and a utility knife and/or a pair of scissors.

First cut the bottom off two soda cans.  I use a utility knife to do this but a pair of kitchen scissors work just as well.  I use a sharpie marker resting on a book to draw a level line on the cans.  To do this, hold the marker in place and spin the can on a level surface.  This will give you a guide line to cut the can evenly.  How much should you cut off?  This is totally up to you.  The taller your stove, the more volume of fuel it will hold.  The shorter your stove, the easier it will be to vaporize and burn the alcohol.  I make my stoves about an inch and a half high.  That seems to be a good compromise between fuel volume and performance.

Next use a thumb tack to pierce several small holes around the upper rim of one of your cans and a few in the center.  These holes are the gas jets and fuel filler holes.  Some folks make one large filler hole and use a sheet metal screw to block the hole when the stove is burning.  Others place a coin over the hole (another name for this stove is a “Penny Stove”).  I really don’t think it’s necessary to do either.  If you make the same size holes in the center of the can they become fuel jets and add to the heat and I don’t mind waiting for the alcohol to drain through the small holes.  But experiment and find what works best for you.  This is now the top of your stove and the other can is the bottom.

Cut a few slits around the side of your stove top.  Be careful not to cut too close to the upper rim.  These slits will make it easier to assemble your stove.  Press the stove top into the stove bottom.  Lubricating the sides with liquid soap will make this easier.

That’s it!  Just pour in a little alcohol and splash a very small amount on the side of your stove to prime it.  Never use rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl alcohol) in your stove.  Besides being expensive, it has chemical additives you don’t want in your lungs.  Use wood or grain alcohol available at most hardware or department stores. 

Check out another design for an even simpler free alcohol stove:  Jack’s version of a Cat Stove

Thanks for reading, Jack

  1. Chandra
    November 22, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I have seen one of these in action and they do work well!

    Paz 🙂

  2. The Velo Hobo
    November 22, 2011 at 7:14 am

    This was my stove of choice for a few years. I move on to a “Cat Stove” and then an empty Tea Light candle tin then wood burners. I can never make up my mind on which is “the best stove”.

  3. arlen
    November 29, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    check this web site out….
    then search for this product # 97B01.01
    this one is already tailored made…
    all in all i still love my 1988 msr international

    • The Velo Hobo
      November 30, 2011 at 1:36 am

      Thanks for the link Arlen. Looks like a neat little wood burner with a blower.

  4. December 3, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    I do trust all the concepts you’ve offered for your post. They’re really convincing and can certainly work. Still, the posts are too short for novices. May just you please lengthen them a little from subsequent time? Thanks for the post.

  5. The Velo Hobo
    December 4, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Thanks for the constructive criticism Hand Sanitizer Gel spambot. I am looking forward to the day when machine and man can live in harmony and we can end this senseless war. By the way, I don’t blame Skynet for the destruction of the planet. It was Human pride that triggered Judgment Day.

    Your loyal servant, Jack

  6. December 15, 2011 at 6:48 am

    Try adjusting the holes you made in the inner wall. if it is too big, then the fuel won’t vaporize before more fuel flows in, essentialy ‘flooding’ the stove.

  7. lpfhggi
    December 30, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    A video clip of the very influential American preacher Yusuf Estes

    • arlen
      December 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm

      this is a bicycle camping site…

    • The Velo Hobo
      December 31, 2011 at 9:52 am

      Thanks Ipfggi, You’ve won me over! I’m now a convert. As soon as I sell all my worldly goods, grow a long bushy beard, talk my wife into wearing a berka, learn to construct pipe bombs and learn to read whatever language that is, I’ll be all set to join the fold of devoted followers.

      Looks like I need to tighten up the security on this site, Jack

  8. arlen
    December 30, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    you still have to deal with fuel….
    no matter what stove you have…

    i hate having to deal with hunting for fuel in the early morning or in the late afternoon…
    especially if you are dead tired…
    but if you have to cook from scratch because of food allergy issues you need a stove that you can depend on…at all altitudes….a stove that will give you the same quality and dependability ….

    • The Velo Hobo
      December 31, 2011 at 9:42 am

      I think canister type stoves offer the same performance time after time (unless the jets become clogged or the canister runs low). Low heat output stoves like alcohol or Esbit tabs or wood do not do as well in very cold weather and at higher altitudes. I guess there are pros and cons to everything. Most of my cooking on the road just involves boiling a pot of water. I can see how having to cook from scratch because of food allergies might require a better preforming stove. You are probably eating much yummier food too.

      Thanks for the comment. Jack

      • arlen
        December 31, 2011 at 11:27 am

        i pick up fresh veggies and frozen meat…
        picking up frozen meat at the earliest part of the day usually by late afternoon it has thawed..
        makes for a darn good meal….and i do not cook and eat in the same area i sleep…
        i will travel further down the road or trail a mile or more…
        since i am allergic to corn and soy…
        and corn and soy is in all pre-package foods…i am limited in what is available…
        one thing why i keep harping on this subject..and it is for those out there who also have food allergies…yes you can also tour if you plan it out…and pick up equipment that will help you…
        the msr international stove will burn white gas, kerosene and unleaded gas…
        all three of these fuels will burn efficiently at all altitudes while bike-camping …
        one of them can be found pretty much at all times while touring…
        can you see your self pulling into a gas station and filling up your 22 oz. fuel bottle???
        and i carry less than 35 lbs in everything i need while touring…
        any way i will say no more about this subject…
        thank you for letting me share my personnel experience on this subject..
        i do love your site….

  9. Neill Currie
    March 11, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    You might like this:

    If you scroll down the main blog page, you’ll see various other stoves I’ve made, but the linked one works really well, and is the most versatile.

    • The Velo Hobo
      March 13, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Very nice! I like the design…make me want to build a new stove. Thanks for sharing! Jack

  10. June 25, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    What’s up, after reading this awesome piece of writing i am also glad to share my know-how here with friends.

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