Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How To Make a Camp Stove from a V8 Can

As you could have guessed, I'm not the only one in my house with a compulsory need to make stuff.  It turns out I'm married to a creative guy, and we have breeded some pretty creative offspring.  :)

So the true author of this post is my 12-year-old son.  He, his 10-year-old brother, and my husband have been on a camp-stove-making journey over the past few months. They have made (and we have used) tuna can stoves, Coke can stoves, and various others. Do an internet search for the various YouTube tutorials out there, and you will see there are many. 

We have had a fair amount of luck with the tuna can stoves, but on the trail they only really burned long enough to make ramen noodles or hot cocoa.  The Coke can stoves burn a bit longer, but are less stable (READ: my husband caught his shirt on fire in my kitchen!).   

This V8 can stove, though tiny, is mighty. It has proven to be stable and more efficient: able to burn for a whopping 17 minutes without needing to re-fuel! 

This stove along with the windscreen pot rack weighs very little and fits nicely in most mess kits, so it easy to bring on any campout--whether you are backpacking or car camping!

To our knowledge, this is the first tutorial for this particular type of stove. My son took all the pictures (and did an amazing job). He was very thorough with each step.  

You will need: 
  • 2 empty (5.5oz) V8 cans
  • ruler
  • hole punch
  • sheath metal (3"x 23", available at home improvement store, roofing section)
  • needle-nose pliers
  • heavy text book
  • sharp scissors
  • box cutter/ X-acto knife
  • push pin
  • 3 metal tent stakes
  • pocket knife with an awl tool (or other awl-like pointed tool)
  • penny
  • denatured alcohol (located in paint section at store)

Step 1. Build the  wind screen. This will be a pot stand and a wind screen when you cook with the stove.  Punch two off-set rows of holes on one length of the sheathing.

Use the needle nose pliers at each short end to make folds (one inside, one out, so they can "lock" the screen). Carefully pull the sheathing to make a circle and lock in place with the folds. 

Punch holes near the top of the sheathing (about 1 inch down), close at one end and wide at the other (as shown). This will create a rack for your pot to sit on.

Step 2. Score the cans. Set scissors in the heavy text book so the top blade is 3/4 inch high. Press down on the scissors while turning the can around the open blade. Be sure to only score with the top blade. 

This is what the can will look like once it is scored. 

Step 3. Use the X-Acto knife to cut  the bottom end of the can off, about 1/2 inch above the score line. This cut can, and will be, rough.

Step 4. Remove excess to achieve a smooth edge. This is illustrated in a few pictures.  Make a few cuts from the rough edge to just barely above the score line.

Fold down the loose pieces. This makes room for the scissors to cut.

Cut along score line.

When you get close to the slits you cut, unfold them and cut them off. 

This is what two "clean-cut" cans look like. 

Step 5. Create burner vents.  This is for ONE of the cans--not both.  Set the other can aside. Get your push pin ready. 

Push 6 equally spaced holes into the ridge of the bottom of the can (as shown).  This can be eyeballed to get estimated even spacing.

Step 6.  Use push pin to make 3 holes in center of can bottom. These should be close enough together to be covered by a penny set in the middle of the can bottom. 

The penny should also be able to be moved to the side, still sitting in the can, with all three holes uncovered. 

Step 7. Widen the burner holes. Using an awl or other similiar tool, widen each of the burner holes to about three-times their original size. This is done by applying a bit of pressure and making a twisting motion with the awl. 

This shows how big the holes should be when done. 

Step 8. Making dimples on the can you just punched holes in.  Using needle-nose pliers, pinch the can half-way up the side, directly below one of the burner holes, bending it in at a 15° angle. 

Here is what one dimple looks like. Continue around the can, making a dimple above each burner hole. 

Here it is with a dimple at each hole.  Looks kinda pretty--but you're not done dimpling yet!

Now make another 15° dimple between each one you already made. 

NOW you are done dimpling. Still pretty. Don't stress out if your dimples aren't perfect. 

Step 9. You have one can bottom with all kinds of fancy holes and dimples and one without. 

Place the fancy can into the plain can, as shown. This will be tight, so do this step carefully and evenly. It will be hard to undo a crooked-placed can. 

Congratulations! You have made a V8 Can Camp Stove.  Now to use it...

Step 10. It's time to set up to cook.  Have a lighter ready. Place the penny over the holes. Carefully pour denatured alcohol into the trough, with the penny in place, just until it fills the trough. Move the penny away and let the alcohol drain.  
Replace the penny over the holes. Pour more alcohol into the trough, this time enough to overflow and cover the burner holes (on the outside edge).  Light the alcohol. This will prime the fuel that is already inside the stove. 

Place the windscreen pot stand over the stove.

Slowly set your pot on the stake racks. 

This fuel burns invisibly in daylight. But turn off the light....

And, let it burn! 

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  1. Very creative, I would never have thought of doing this. Looks like your son had a lot of fun putting this together.

    Thanks for sharing at Marvelous Monday on Smart Party Planning :-)

  2. Thanks, Catherine. He really made an amazing tutorial, huh? Thanks again for hosting a great link-up!

  3. I am so impressed with your children participating in the creation of camp stoves. What a great learning experience and family bonding and making memories. You son did a great job with everything.
    Pinning this!
    Stopping by from Create It Thursday and I'm glad I did.

  4. This is awesome! What a creative young man! I will pin this to my kids "crafts" board! I'm sure lots of kids would love this! Thanks for sharing at Merry Monday! Julia

  5. Thanks for sharing with us at Teach Me Tuesday. You are very much appreciated! We hope to see you back again this week. Starts tonight @ 8pm CST.
    Have an awesome rest of your week!!

  6. I am relay happy. How to make the stove to an abandoned cans, learned today. This is such a useful tool for writing. It helps me with my story writing. Thank you for sharing.

  7. One of the things that I like doing before going for a camping expedition is prepare in advance. I am planning to come up with a diy camp stove to avoid spending on a commercial camp stove. This is a great project you have here, i will try it out. I also found some great tips that will help me modify my diy camp stove here:

  8. I have been searching for guidelines for making a camp stove, and the info on your blog is exactly what I need. The how-to steps are easy to follow, and the process gets easier with the images. Thanks for sharing. Check out DIY camp stove designs here: