A Coke-can stove, or beer-can stove, is a do it yourself, ultralight, alcohol-burning portable stove. The simple design is made entirely from aluminum cans, lending itself to countless variations. Total weight, including a windscreen/stand, can be less than one ounce (28 g).
This post is a rewrite from a couple of years ago. A couple of use made alcohol stoves using the first video below. After making and trying out the stoves we made some interesting discoveries.
What we discovered:
- Using 50% alcohol as fuel works miserably (half of the fuel is water).
- Using 91% alcohol these little stoves work exactly as advertised! We tested our stoves with 91% alcohol that is available at any drug store or Wal-Mart. I was able to bring 16 ounces of water to a hard boil in 8 minutes. It will take much less time to heat up a can of food.
- The 91% rubbing alcohol lights easily and burns plenty hot in your stove, but it isn’t a clean burn. Using it in your stove will leave black soot on your cooking pot that is very hard to clean off. After conducting some internet research I discovered denatured alcohol. It is sold in one quart size cans and is available in home improvement stores where you find paint thinner, mineral spirits, etc. It’s very inexpensive. The label states that it is a clean burning fuel for alcohol stoves. It won’t dirty up the bottom of your pot. In a pinch you can use rubbing alcohol in your stove, but you will be better served by keeping a couple a cans of denatured alcohol in your inventory for your stove and save the rubbing alcohol for first-aid. You can carry a three-day supply in a small plastic bottle with your stove in your bug-out bag or camping pack.
- When you initially light your stove, let the alcohol burn for 30 to 40 seconds before you place your pot on top of the stove.
- When you are through cooking or boiling water it is easy to blow out the flame or smother it by covering the stove with a cup. The stove will quickly cool and you can pour any unused fuel back into your small fuel bottle.
- In the first video below they use a knife to cut out the top of the can. I used a handheld can opener and it worked great.