How to build a camp stove with recycled soup cans

Soup Can

A camp stove always proves to be a handy stuff when you go out for an excursion or a picnic. One of the important features of a camp stove is that it runs on an easily available fuel. Also, it is small, light and easy to carry as you cannot afford to carry a massive heavy stove while going for a forest picnic or camp feast. Now the question is if we can make a smart camp stove out of some recycled stuff ? That would surely reduce the cost involved. In the following article,we will discuss how to make a smart camp stove using recycled soup cans and of course some essential tools. This stove runs on the principle of lighting up of jetted fuel vapors from a closed container.

Difficulty Level:

Moderately challenging (May require expertise in few areas)

Time Required:

The estimated time required to complete this project is maximum 2 days. It actually depends on the efficiency of the person involved in the project.

Resources Required:

  1. Two differently sized soup cans. Chose the can sizes in such a way that one can easily slip into the other
  2. A small hand saw
  3. A hand file
  4. A tack hammer
  5. A hand drill along with an 8 mm. drill bit
  6. A bolt, about 15 mm long and 6 mm. outer diameter along with a nut which fits on it.
  7. A size 5 sewing needle or an equivalent long nail
  8. A tube of high temperature epoxy paste
  9. Furnace cement
  10. A bottle of heet methanol fuel
  11. A cake pan

Estimate Cost:

The one time cost involved in this project is around $5. The only recurring cost is that of the fuel used.


  1. First of all, drink or eat away the contents of the cans, rinse them properly with water and wipe them clean.
  2. Thereafter, cut the thicker can from the top leaving 100 mm of it at the bottom. Similarly, cut the bottom of the thinner can leaving 100 mm at the top. The assembly of these two portions will actually form the oven or cylinder that produces an uniform alcohol based flame for cooking at campsites.
  3. File down the sharp cut edges of both the cut cans to avoid any injury.
  4. Make 12 holes around the circumference of the thin can at a height of around 80 mm from the base with the help of the tack hammer and sewing needle. Make sure to keep equal distances between the holes.
  5. Drill a hole with the 8 mm drill bit on the top of the thinner can and fix the nut matching the hole-centers (the drilled hole and the hole of the nut) with the help of some high temperature epoxy paste.
  6. Now, put some furnace cement on the inner base of the thicker can and place the thinner can on it. You can shape up the furnace cement with your hand.
  7. Leave the assembly to cure for at least 8 hours.
  8. After curing, place the assembly of the oven inside the cake pan.
  9. Fit a funnel on the hole of the thinner can and fill it with the heet methanol. Make sure that you don’t spill it over the holes. Screw the bolt in the nut and tighten it properly.
  10. Your stove is now ready to fire up. Drip some drops of fuel on the top and set it on fire.
  11. Your stove will set ablaze immediately. Initially it will emit large flames. But as the spilled fuel burns off, it will give an almost invisible circular flame due to the jet of evaporated fuel coming out of the holes of the thinner can.
  12. To cook over this stove, place two bricks on either side or make a platform adjusting the height of the same in an appropriate manner. You can place your cooking pan on these bricks or platform.
  13. To extinguish the flame, just place a vessel upside down on the oven part. This will stop the supply of oxygen from the air and turn off the flames.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. Is this product eco friendly?

All fossil fuels emit COx gases when burnt. Heet methanol is a low carbon fuel and emits less pollutants while burning. As far as the ingredients are concerned, this stove is completely green in nature as it uses recycled goods.

2. Can it be used to cook large meals?

Well, this is a small model and can only be used to make 10 cups of coffee, boil eggs or make an egg toast. As the heat emitted is moderate, small dishes can easily be cooked on it. That doesn’t mean that you can cook a mutton gravy over it !!

3. How long can it be used?

You can use it over a long period of time. All you have to do is to stick to methanol fuel. Don’t replace it with other ones. Just refill with heet methanol and it’s ready to use.

Quick Tips:

  1. You can chose the height of your oven according to your choice. A longer oven will hold more fuel.
  2. The distance between the holes in the thinner can should be as uniform as possible. This ensures even distribution of the flame throughout the flame circle.
  3. File the cut edges properly to avoid hand injury.
  4. Don’t replace high temperature epoxy or furnace cement with any other adhesive or fixture as the latter will fail to withstand the high temperature of the flames.

Things To Watch Out For:

  1. Methanol is a highly combustible liquid with high rates of volatility (a liquid which evaporates quickly). So, be careful to handle the fuel and always keep away the bottle or stove (when not in use) from any naked flame.
  2. Don’t spill out excess fuel from the holes or fuel bottle as it may cause a serious fire hazard.
  3. Be sure to make the holes properly. Excess fuel pressure inside the can may result in bursting of the oven assembly to cause a serious accident. Slide the size 5 sewing needle properly though each and every hole to ensure an optimum hole size.

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