Alcohol Stoves for Dummies and by “Dummies” I Mean Me…

This blog is very late. Turns out getting all four wisdom teeth out is kind of a big deal, especially when one of your lower molars is a freakin’ overachiever and has three roots instead of two. I had not been to the dentist in an embarrassingly long time. I mean, I literally couldn’t remember the last time I had been. I think I may have been 12? That’s 19 years ago! I need to increase my chances of finishing my 2015 thru-hike of the AT and I figured now was the time to stop putting it off. I just imagined how mad I would be at myself if I had to get off the trail because of a toothache. Now 1 deep cleaning, 7 fillings, 1 root canal, 1 crown, and 4 wisdom teeth extractions later … I’ve only got one more crown and filling left! Now imagine getting all that done in a single month and you can imagine how I didn’t feel up to writing a blog. Here is a picture of some alcohol stoves to prove that I did more than just lay around the couch and moan for the last month:

Which one of these does not belong?

Which one of these does not belong?

There are tons of instructions and videos on the interwebs about how to make an alcohol stove. You don’t need one from me. There are also several different versions ranging from simple cat food cans to more complicated ones with primer springs or rolled aluminum bottles. I thought something in the middle suited both my skill and patience levels. You could also just buy one , but where’s the fun in that? As with everything else in my life, I watched a bunch of other people do it and then stole their ideas and smashed them together to try to make something better. The first two were made from soda cans, and the last two are the same but skinny versions made from energy drinks and V8 cans. If you’re not familiar with an alcohol stove at all, the idea is simple. They use denatured alcohol which is pretty cheep and easy to find. You just pour some into the middle and light it. The inside has notches that let the evaporating alcohol go up the double wall and out the holes. I think they look pretty cool considering the fact that it resembles a gas stove top range that I made from soda cans. Here’s what one looks like in action:

The first one didn’t work at all. The holes are too close to the top and the flames went out every time I put a pot on it. Of course, if I’d bothered to do any research I would’ve known that this design is meant to be used with a pot stand. Oops.

Pot stand or snuff!

Pot stand or snuff!

I made the second one with holes further down and it works perfect with a regular pot on it. Success!

Magic!

Magic!

The flame goes out with the Jetboil pot because of the heat exchanger on the bottom. However, the size of the soda can happens to fit right inside of the pot stand that comes with the Jetboil and it is just enough to lift the pot up and not snuff out the flame. This one is my favorite. I bet the pot stand  even works with the first stove I made with the holes at the very top but I haven’t tried it yet. Of course, I didn’t realize any of this until after I made two more stoves. Oops.

Snug as an alcohol stove in a pot stand rug!

Snug as an alcohol stove in a pot stand rug!

I made the third one out of some energy drink cans. It works fine but the size did make me a little nervous. It’s so tiny! Works with a regular pot but not with the Jetboil.

Alcohol Stove 2.0

Alcohol Stove 2.0

To fix the Jetboil issue, I made the last one just a little taller and put the holes a little further down which did the trick. It felt sturdy but nature has a way of not being as level as a cookie sheet on the counter in my kitchen.

V8 perfection!

V8 perfection!

I still haven’t decided what I want to use but I had a lot of fun making these. Here are some tips and tricks for making your own:

  • If you want it pretty, it’s easier to get the paint off of an unopened can. You can put pressure on it without crushing it.
  • I recommend getting the paint off even if you don’t care if it’s pretty or not. The denatured alcohol doesn’t smell but burning paint sure does. Don’t risk the toxic badness like I did.
  • Placing a marker flat on a wood block or a book and turning the can around next to it is a good way to get a straight line around the can.
  • Substitute a blade of some kind for the marker above and you can skip a whole step.

Next up, DIY windscreen!

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One thought on “Alcohol Stoves for Dummies and by “Dummies” I Mean Me…

  1. Pingback: DIY Windscreen | cats.don't.camp

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