SHTF blog – Modern Survival

DIY – How to Build Your Own Alcohol Stove

So you want to put together a bug out bag, but who has the money to go out and buy all the fancy expensive equipment that goes inside one?  Don’t despair!  I’m going to show you how to outfit a BOB for cheap, because I’m always looking for a bargain and figure there must be other budget minded people out there as well.

Let’s start with an alcohol stove.

There are several good things about this tiny little stove and almost no bad that I can think of.  First of all, it’s light weight.  Second, the fuel is relatively cheap an easy to come by and third, it’s pretty easy to operate.

So let’s jump right into the construction.  For materials you’ll need the following:

  • Two empty soda cans
  • A small handful of insulation
  • A razor blade
  • Push pin
  • Denatured Alcohol – HEET works great and you can buy it just about anywhere
  • A wire clothes hanger or small piece of fine fencing
  • Book – any book will do as long as it’s thicker than a inch or two



In the photo above I put the razor blade in the book at a height of 1 inch.  Then keeping a firm grip on the can I slowly turn it against the blade until the bottom inch of the can is cut free.  See photo below.


Yes, that is one ragged cut.  To avoid doing this make sure you’re using a new blade.  Not like mine.


Go ahead and cut the other can exactly the same way.  This time I tried to make a few turns to score it in before trying to make the actual cut.  I had marginal success.  Again, get  sharp blade.

In the next step take some insulation and put it in the bottom can and then put the top into  the bottom.  In other words the bottom can should be the one that is outside once they’re together.  It’s a little work to get it just right, but take a few minutes and be patient and you’ll be able to wiggle it in.



Once the two cans are together squeeze them together tightly so they don’t accidentally separate.  In the next step (below) poke about eight or ten holes in the middle of the top can.  This is where the alcohol will drain through.


Next, poke evenly spaced holes all around the outside edge of the top.



Once you’ve done that you’re ready to light it up.


Now, there’s a small trick to lighting an alcohol stove.  First, put in an ounce or two of fuel.  Experiment a little, but I’ve found that an ounce will heat a cup or two of water fairly quickly depending on environmental conditions.  Next, I put the stove in a metal container like the one shown above and put a little fuel in the bottom outside the stove.  The alcohol stove needs to be preheated in order for it to burn.  Some people will just hold the stove and put a lighter underneath it to preheat it, but I like this method as it doesn’t require me holding something potentially explosive in my hand.


It might take a minute or two, but pretty soon you’ll have a nice flame like the one pictured above.  I turned out the lights so  you can get a good idea of what it looks like.   WARNING!  It’s very difficult to see the flame in daylight.  If you light it and can’t see it make sure to test it before picking it up.  You might get a nasty surprise if you don’t.


Above is a picture in low light.


In the picture above I’ve put the pot on to boil.


I made the pot stand (above) out of a piece of wire fencing.  Notice the bends in the end of the wire.  I use these to latch on to the other end of the pot stand to hold it in place.  You want your pot to be about an inch or two above the flames.  You can also put in a wind break for this stove, but I didn’t include one here.


Above you will see how everything is stored in my cozy.  This set up weighs virtually nothing is easy to carry around plus it costs next to nothing to make.

The Good – This stove is super light and as you can see is pretty easy to make.  It’s very quiet unlike other stoves out there and it runs off denatured alcohol and you can also make one for the price of a couple of beer or soda cans.  I use Heet to fuel this stove.

The Bad – Very little actually.  The only thing I don’t like about this stove – and it’s a minor point – is that you have to preheat it in order for it work.

All in all these little stoves really do the trick.  I used an alcohol stove hiking parts of the Appalachian Trail here in Maine and it performed great.  In the summer and fall this is the stove you’ll find in my pack.

Build yours and let me know what you think.  If you’ve already tried one post here and let me know how it worked for you.

-Jarhead Survivor

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