Cat food can stoveA Cat Food Can Stove is probably one of the easiest cooking stoves to make. In addition, it is lightweight and foolproof.  It never clogs and there are no moving parts to break.  They burn ethanol or methanol alcohol so finding fuel is easy.  Simply pour alcohol-based fuel in it and light.  The stove will run off of denatured alcohol. Some use HEET gas-line anti-freeze (and like the HEET bottle for fuel storage and transport too).  Even high-proof drinking alcohol (e.g. Everclear) will work although it’ll be a bit costly.  These types of stoves are very popular with long-distance hikers. Follow these steps to make a Cat Food Can Stove.

  1. Take a cat food can and remove the lid. Clean it out and sand off (or bend down) any rough edges around the opening.
  2. Take a hold-punch and punch a series of holes around the can close to the rim.  The holes should be about 1/8 inch apart – not too close or you’ll weaken the structure of the can.
  3. Next punch a second set of holes, again around the can, underneath the first series and alternating so the holes are not directly underneath each other.
  4. Pour a small amount of alcohol into the can and light.  Give the alcohol some time to heat up – about 20-30 seconds. You can boil about 2 cups of water in 5 minutes with 1/2 ounce of alcohol fuel.
  5. Place your cooking utensil on top of the can.  Flames will shoot out of the holes and heat the cooking utensil.

Some prefer to put a sheet of fiberglass (insulation will work) sheeting in the bottom of the can to keep the alcohol from sloshing and evaporating too fast.  Also, some sort of wind guard is typically needed for these types of stoves.  Various cans can be used too – some prefer Red Bull cans.

There are commercial alcohol stoves available too that are pretty nice.  They typically include sealed-ring lids to store the alcohol fuel within the stove body itself saving you the hassle of having to pour out the unused alcohol when you are done.

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