Ultralight Can Stove

A little over a month ago I was camping on the west coast with a couple friends. The conditions were pretty good for a winter camping trip, as there was no rain and the winter sun's golden rays eventually pierced the low clouds hanging over us. We set up camp and made our way to the riverside to cook dinner. the usual strategy is to get a small fire going to get our soup going at a rolling boil for as long as we care to sit back and let it go. That was not the case, and we ended up moving onto plan-b... cooking over a home-made woodgas stove reminiscent of the Bushbuddy. This proved more difficult than usual and while we did enjoy a hot meal, it was no small effort that got us there. We searched all the usual places, under trees and logs, but we couldn't find dry wood anywhere. While the area had not seen any recent rain, this particular area was almost constantly shrouded in a thick wet fog so everything in this lush temperate rainforest was soaked. By the time the morning fog settled the next day, everything was so wet we could not get the woodgas stove going again. The ambient humidity was so moist that any sort of paper we brought in would not burn.. A friend had brought a backup stove, a Vargo Triad alcohol stove, but with only a couple ounces of alcohol. Hot coffee was a priority so we got the coffee water going then used the scant remnants of the fuel to warm some water for lukewarm oatmeal.

This experience caused me to evaluate my own cooking system. My main stove is a Bushbuddy Ultra, which has so far exceeded my expectations so I will not be leaving it at home anytime soon. I did however begin to consider the possibility of a backup, liquid fuel stove for winter/wet weather camping. There are a number of great commercially available alcohol stoves, but being the sort of person who has a compulsive need to make things I figured I'd go the DIY route.

A few different designs.


I came across a couple sites with good instructions. One was thesodacanstove.com and the other was zenstoves.net both of which I borrowed from so I figured I would mention both. The templates that I used in my construction came from the latter source. The photos below simple show my own process as it differed in some ways. The overall design I got from those two sites.

I won't get into describing too much detail as the pictures pretty much speak for themselves and the aforementioned websites go over the specifics very thoroughly. I thought I would share my process as I found a few shortcuts and have modified the procedures slightly. The end result is more or less the same.

Click the photos to open in lightbox mode, hover mouse over for descriptions.

So far in my tests I have been happy with how it works. I have tried a variety of designs featuring different sized holes or varying amounts of holes. These parameters can be adjusted and while some claim one design is better than the next, my results have been very close, too close to reach a conclusion in my non-scientific tests. Most of the many stoves I have experimented with can get 500ML of water boiling in minutes on 30ML / 1 OZ of fuel. It slips perfectly into the bush buddy and in my tests I have used it inside of the bush buddy as a windscreen. Perfect for those emergency situations or quick early morning coffee.