A couple of weeks ago Tom posted this amazing video on his blog. I watched it hooked and amazed at what he and his friend Armen had created. It was so simple yet appeared to be very effective. I couldn’t wait to give it a try.
I always enjoy reading and learning about new innovative solutions to problems. Especially when they are problems that I have faced when on a cycle tour. That is why I was so intrigued by Tom’s video. The idea had never even occurred to me that you could make an effective camping stove out of something as simple as a coke can. I told myself it must be too good to be true and that there must be drawbacks; however I couldn’t see any major ones and was keen to give it a go.
The video describes the process in a very eloquent, easy-to-follow way. I do recommend watching it and giving it a go. If you are bored and looking for something to do, can’t think of a present for a person who likes the outdoors and going on adventures, or if you want to try it out, make one.
Here is what you will need:
- Swiss Army Knife (or a knife and some scissors)
- Empty Drinks Can
That is really all you need! It is that simple.
Here is how I made mine; I used the video so I recommend using that too.
- Cut the top off the can.
- Cut the remaining can in half and trim the base down to the size you require.
- Cut the top half of the can to the correct size so that it will poke out of the bottom half.
- Make vertical ridges using your knife in the top half, you want them deeper at the bottom and shallower at the top and about a fingers width apart.
- Poke a small hole in the top half of the can to allow air in. You don’t want this too big so be careful at this point.
- Fill up with some alcohol fuel, I have used methylated spirits so far and that works well.
Please Note: Take all necessary fire precautions when lighting and operating the stove. In order to put out you must smother the flame, you cannot blow it out. This is all shown in the video.
These stoves are cheap and cheerful but they do work well. They offer great versatility as they allow you to use any alcohol based flammable fuel meaning if you are off the beaten track you can still make hot meals. Fuel is also very cheap I managed to pick up a 700ml bottle of Meths from my local hardware store for just over £1.50! An absolute bargain as that will give me over an hour of cooking time. The stoves are also incredibly lightweight so perfect if you are weight conscious on your camping holiday/ cycle-tour.
I have made a few of these stoves now and experimented with them a couple of times. Every time they are a lot of fun and boil water in a pretty quick time. I have found arranging three in a triangle then placing a larger pan on top is an effective way of cooking and boiling water fast. Once you have smothered the flame and extinguished the stoves you also do not have to wait ages for them to cool down. The thin aluminium and shiny surface means it is cool enough to touch within seconds. Perfect for if for some reason you need to make a quick getaway.
This is by no means the only design out there, since learning the possibilities I have found lots of different versions which have different benefits. You can just have fun experimenting and trying out different designs. Also if you are out on a tour and your stove breaks no worries. You now know how to build a new one in less than ten minutes. Result!