Monday, January 19, 2009

The Pop Can Stove - The Back Packers Dream Stove For Only A Buck

So if many of you are like me, then you like camping gear....but your wife who does the budget probably doesn't like you spending the amount of money that can be spent on high tech multi fuel-run-on-everything-but-your-own urine kinds of stoves.  So here's one that won't break your bank (cost is 2 pop cans) and that you'll have fun making!  This is a lightweight stove, can be placed in a small tupperware container and added to your pack back for your next trip.  Up to 10 pounds - maybe more - can be placed on it and it will boil a cup of water in 4 minutes.  The fuel is easy to get - you have 2 choices, rubbing alcohol or the better form "denatured alcohol" - no deisel and definately no urine.  I originally got the instructions from the following site, including some of the pictures below: http://www.pcthiker.com/pages/gear/pepsiGstoveinstruct.shtml.

Step 1:
Obtain two pop cans. In one place 24 to 32 evenly spaced holes. A thumb tack works best. You can use a black magic marker to mark the holes ahead of time.  Don't push the thumb tack all the way in, just partially so that you make a very small hole.







Step 2:
After placing the holes, cut out a large hole in the center of the can. The grooves of the bottom of the can will help you know where to do the cutting (see next picture).  I used a dremel tool to do all of my cutting - took about a minute...a carpet knife can be used, but good luck not cutting yourself!






Step 3:
Now cut the bottom of the can off. This piece will become the top of your stove and should measure 20mm or 3/4 inch in height. 

From a separate pop can you will also cut off the bottom, but this one will measure 25mm (1 inch) in height - and please do not place any holes in this one.  This will serve as the bottom of your stove



Step 4:

Now from one of the left over pop cans, cut out the following inner wall. It needs to be 35mm in width and 190mm in length or 1 3/8 inch wide and 7 1/2 inches long. The three holes can be cut out using a hole punch...they simply need to be evenly spread out. The slits are 150mm - 152mm apart or 5 15/16 to 6 inches apart. They need to be cut half way across the width.













Now make a circle, interlocking the slits. Use some silver ducting heat tape to help it keep a circular form.











Step 5:
Now with scissors cut slits into your top piece. You'll need 6 or 7 of them. Make sure the slit stays about 2mm below the rounded edge.




Step 6:
Now you're ready to assemble the stove. Place the inner wall in the bottom piece it should fit into the groove on the bottom of the can and the holes you punched should be facing the bottom piece, then carefully place the top piece onto the bottom piece and the inner wall. The reason for the slits is so that you can tease the top piece inside the bottom piece - be patient it takes a little time. I cut out a few shims from the left over pop can to help me. Once assembled I placed a book ontop of the stove and carefully pushed the can together. Once the pieces fit snugly together I used the same heat duct tape and sealed the outside seams with it. On the inside of my can I used JB Weld - a bonding agent - to seal the bottom and top of the inner wall where it came into contact with the top and bottom pieces of my stove. Be careful not to cover up the three holes that you punched into the bottom of your wall, as the fuel needs to pass through these. For fuel, I would reccomend Denatured Alcohol. It burns hotter and better than your standard 70-90% proof rubbing alcohols.











I've taken this stove camping several times. It works great to heat up my tin can for hot chocolate, or to boil water for my mountain house meals. You can use thick aluminum foil from a baking tin (disposable turkey baking tin) as a wind shield or fork out 6$ for sterno oven stand.


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