There are several types of stove that you can build and they can all be fun and interesting to make as well as producing working useable stoves from pop cans however, I will be showing you my favourite stove in this blog. Please remember when making these stoves that you will be working with sharp edges and it is extremely easy to cut yourself so please be careful or if you are a younger reader get an adult to help.
Right now we are onto the pop can stove, you will need the following items to make your stove.
Minimum of 2 Pop Cans (more if you want to make accessories or to account for mistakes)
Ruler for measuring
Something with a Sharp Point such as a Nail
Good Strong Pocket/Lock Knife
Permanent Marker Pen
So you now have all your materials and it’s time to start making your first Pop Can Stove.
Take one of your cans and turn it upside down, I’ve found that removing the ring pull helps you get the can to stand easier. Using your item with the sharp point, poke holes around the outer edge of the bottom of the can as shown in the picture try to aim at around 15-20 holes. Smaller holes will make your stove more fuel efficient whereas larger holes will give you a hotter flame but will use more fuel, the choice really is up to you.
Now using your knife cut out the inside of the bottom of the can, if the edges are quite jagged you can file them down more easily while the can hasn’t been cut down although it isn’t necessary as it doesn’t affect the way the stove works.
Turn the can back up the right way and measure 25mm from the bottom of the can and using the permanent marker pen draw a ring all the way round the can. Cut along the line and you will have a nice tidy even finish, create 8-10 evenly spaced cuts from the bottom edge of your stove top stopping where the paint finishes, then place your stove top to one side whilst you work on the next piece of the stove.
So you now have the top of your stove ready and its time to create the bottom of your stove. You now have to decide how tall you want your stove, personally I like to keep it quite small so I measure 30mm from the bottom of the can. As before use a permanent marker pen to create a ring around the can so that you can create an even cut. The thing to remember when making the bottom of your stove is to make it 10mm shorter than the height you want to make your stove, in the case of the ones I make I want it to be 40mm high so I cut the bottom out at 30mm.
Now it’s time to create the inner wall of your stove, if you didn’t cut up your previous cans badly then you can use one of these otherwise you will need to use a third can. Cut the top and/or bottom off the can so that you just have the side, now make a cut all the way up the side so that you can straighten it out flat on a surface and measure out a 40mm strip marking it out with a permanent marker pen and cut along the lines you’ve just made.
You now need to work out the size of your inner wall as you want it to fit in the circular bottom of the stove base. Once you have the size make a mark about a cm in from where the sides start to over lap and then using the mark cut half way through the strip on the top at one end and the bottom on the other end.
Join the two together placing the tag ends on the inside (makes it stay in place easier) and create four small notches on one side of the strip as shown in the picture which will allow the fuel to flow from the inner wall to the outer wall.
This next part is actually the hardest part as it can be a bit of a tight fit and sometimes the can splits whilst fitting it together so be patient and a gentle and you should be fine. So here we go let’s put your stove together.
Firstly put the inner wall into the bottom part of your stove with the notches touching the bottom of the stove. Now slowly place the top of the stove onto the bottom of the stove making sure that the tabs are slightly bent inwards to help it slide inside the bottom of the stove more easily.
As the top gets further in it starts to become tighter so you need to be a bit careful here as you don’t want to push too hard but you also need to make sure that the inner wall is fitting nicely round the main opening of the top of your stove. After a gentle bit of wiggling your stove should fit together nice and tight, your stove is now made.
You have now made your “Pop Can Stove” it is small and compact and is great for camping, hiking, fishing, etc.
The last thing you need is a pan support, now I use a Bushcraft Essentials Pocket Stove which as you can see gives a strong sturdy support for your pan/kettle and also keeps it off the ground reducing the damage to the surrounding ground whilst also providing a windbreak for the flames, they are however around £25 -£30 posted (I personally think its worth it as it literally does fit in your pocket so doesn’t take up much space and can be used as a natural fuel stove in its own right if you run out of alcohol to run your pop can stove).
If however you would like to make up your own pan support you can do this by simply taking some sturdy chicken wire about three times the height of your pop can stove and wrapping it around a 400g tin twice (Asda Smart Price Potatoes is a good size) to create a circle bigger than your pop can stove. Too keep it wrapped as a circle use wire ties to tie the folded ends together and your ready to go.
As you can see from this photo everything is nice and compact and fits very nicely into a small lock box. (notice I haven’t placed a lighter in with the highly flammable surgical spirit!!! For safety always keep sources of fire lighting away from your fuel)
You can also make it a fun thing to do with your children, my youngest absolutely loves making this sort of thing with me.