How To Make A DIY Alcohol Backpacking Stove From Soda Pop Cans
(Yep! It’s Yet Another Article + Video About The Iconic ‘Pop-Can Stove’!)
Since I first learned about backpackers making lightweight cooking stoves out of aluminum cans, I was hooked. And probably like other “stovies,” the one that really caught my attention was the “Pepsi Can Stove.”
No doubt the appeal is that it’s not only ridiculously cool to be able to fit together a couple of recycled cans that way, but because the end result is so compact, lightweight, and burns exactly like the burner on your home stovetop!
While not one of the simplest alcohol stoves to assemble — that honor will go to simpler open-flame stoves and the “SuperCat” Cat Food Can side-burning style — it’s also not one of the most complicated. Depending on which one of the several-dozen methods you choose, it’s possible to have one made in 20-30 minutes.
In fact, this video could have been a lot shorter had I chosen the popular and dependable “crimping” method to fit the two halves together.
But I was interested to try a few methods I’d seen in videos that allowed you to very elegantly fit the two sides together perfectly, one inside the other, without any glue/epoxy and avoiding the slightly tedious task of crimping one of the halves neatly all the way around the sides so that it could fit into the other half. In the end, I eventually succeeded, but it took some experimenting with different fitting methods to make it work.
Conceptually, it’s pretty easy to make and use a “Pop Can Stove.”
- Cut the bottoms off of two aluminum cans (about 3/4″)
- Drill a small hole in the center of the “top” for refilling with alcohol
- Fit them together tightly
- Make tiny holes around the upper ledge
Lighting It Up:
- Fill with alcohol and plug the fill-hole firmly (ex. a screw or “penny”)
- Prime the can by dripping extra fuel onto the top and bottom (using a priming pan or wick) and light the priming fuel
- Once the can is hot enough to boil the alcohol inside, the side burners will light themselves, and it will behave like a familiar stove burner.
From a birds-eye perspective, it’s not too complex. But each of those steps has quite a few variations you could experiment with.