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Pepsi Can Alcohol Stove any good?

8887 Views 22 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  antik
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BEST stoves on the market (make one), I have a ton of information on them, I will get it together and add it here, look for the update.....

This is just one of the stoves, I ran it for this article here, but I have so much information on the design, use, fuels, etc. That I will be doing a several page article in the article section of this website. The fuel load for this stove is 25ml of methanol, and total burn time is about 10 minutes. The water in the pan is about 50 degrees (outside temp) and is three cups (24 oz.).

UPDATE: Picture 1 is the stove, as designed by me, best heat output for fuel consumed, some I have built burn slower, some faster, this is the middle of the bunch (I have 8 of them built so far). Picture 2 is the cooking pot and three cups water, I test in real pots not thin aluminum or titanium because it shows the power of the stoves better, and because my mess kit only holds 10 oz. so that is not a very good test LOL. Picture three shows the pot, and the modified Sterno stove that I use as a pot stand and wind-screen. Picture 4 shows the stove and stand attached so that it will raise the stove off the ground, the bottom of the stove is also insulated from the cold. Picture 5 shows the stove installed in the Sterno, it is lit and burning full power. Picture 6 is three cups of water after 2 minutes. Picture 7 is three cups after 3 minutes. Picture 8 is after 4 minutes. Picture 9 is after 5 minutes, and a full rolling boil. Picture 10 is the stove installed in the Sterno.
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I cant say they are the best, there are to many possible needs for one stove to fill. As long as you understand the limitations of the pop can stove you should find they will be suitable for most north American environments.

You must have a wind screen, a lack of a wind screen can result in the thing not working at all and make an easy task in to a real pain. I find that the majority of my experimenting with the construction of the stoves has been in making a suitable windscreen. If the wind screen is to small it makes the stove blaze like mad, if its to large it makes the stove fizzle out. I also found that insulation the stove from the ground helps greatly. The stove relies on the heat of the flame heating the pop can to the point the alcohol is forced out of the burner holes as a vapor, if something is stealing the heat from the can it will effect this cycle.

There are some great advantages to the stove though, you can burn alcohol in the form of 190 proof pure grain so your fuel can be drank or used to sterilize things.

There is no pressure to the stove so no need to pressurize dangerous gas or fuel.

Its extremely light and efficient, taking no more then a shot glass fuel of fuel for most tasks.

Its cheap and can be made at home.

It doesn't work well in high wind or the extreme cold, unless you take the time to build a suitable windscreen.

Here is my back packing setup


windscreen and pot holder base

Metal rods to set the pot on made from coat hanger and adjustable for hight in the wind screen

The unit together minus the pot

The wall mart grease pot (Cheap) that just happens to fit perfect.

All together roaring boil, half a shot of alcohol and about 3minutes
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Seeing you use it on the stove made me think it would be great to use if the power is off.
I have really thought about it. Bugging out is my last option.

I tried that version some time ago and it works ok, took a few tries to get a good working one tho.

The best part is the weight, one of these and a small bottle of fuel weights less then the swedish army alcohol burner does without fuel.
If you want to see some interesting versions of the old soda can stove, check this guy out. some of his are pressurized, and really put out the heat.
This is a copy of a post from here:

After coming to my better senses on the issue of Alcohol stoves I thought I would have a go at making one…

I decided initially to make one that would “run” off standard 70% rubbing alcohol, since it is so cheap and readily available..

I must have been through half a dozen of the more traditional designed “paired bottom” pop can designs… Some with the fiberglass insulation inside, others without. I had only moderate success with this as the alcohol had to reach a much higher temp to work and the water left behind caused a dilution issue as well…

SO after several hours cutting cans, drilling small holes, pressing them together, watching them not work as planned, AND getting in trouble for having my “PROJECT” (said with pissed off wife inflection) all over the counter and stove…. I decided to do some actual research on the subject…

Gotta love that danged ol’ interweb…. Yee Haw..

So I found out pretty quick that the consensus out there was that only one pop can design would work with cheapo rubbing alcohol… This is the “more traditional” double walled / open top design .. This design allows most all kinds of alcohol to be used. The alcohol in the center chamber burns, thus heating up the can. This vaporizes the alcohol in the outside chamber. When the vaporized alcohol escapes the predrilled holes at the top it is ignited by the center flame. If all this happens as it should you have a “Stove”…

Another good thing about this design is the ability to set a pop can filled with water (or other liquid), or other small pot/can directly on the stove, as the flames come out the sides of the ring…

Now once I decided to actually use 100% (or damn close) alcohol, my options opened up quite a bit… I had issue buying the “GOOD” gas dry from Autozone and Advanced Auto Parts here in town… Apparently the brand of HEET in the yellow bottle is a favorite of local meth cookers, thus is behind the counter or “sorry we’re out”… They didn’t seem convinced by my “its for a pop can stove” story… the bastards… Luckily I was able to find the yellow bottle HEET as well as a cheaper brand at Wal-Mart the same day… It is actually cheaper to buy the 12oz bottles than the bulk metal can of denatured alcohol there as well… to me…

My previous failures now had a better chance of working. I did find out that the size of the chamber had a lot to do with the effectiveness of the design.. Too small and it will not vaporize effectively. Too much insulation and you get the same.. When I tried the “traditional” design, after the flops with rubbing alcohol, my results were somewhat less than good… The ones made with the paired ends both facing out would literally explode when lit. Not a good thing to have happen on the stove, IN THE HOUSE. Definitely not easy to conceal from the wife when she is in the other room. I’m pretty sure the loud pop followed by my “cussin”, then the sink running gave it away… In the end it was a design with both the bottoms oriented the same direction that seemed to work the best.

Now with this design I found that you need to preheat it some.. I tried sitting it a few small metal lids, but none seemed to be effective. I did find that placing this stove in a larger can with higher sides then igniting a small amount of the “spilled “ alcohol was sufficient to get this one going…

After all this fun I found another, much simpler, design. Essentially it is an open top burner that uses fiberglass insulation to absorb the alcohol and act as a wick. You place a fine metal screen on top of this to keep the insulation in place and help in heating up the alcohol. In keeping with the original design I found I first used an Altiods tin. This was very successful. Then I used an empty solder tin, which was equally effective (you’re welcome Soul Reaver). Last I used a much smaller Altiods gum tin. This one worked just as good as the others.

Once these are assembled they need to be “burned in”. Essentially you are charring the fiberglass. I filled each of the stoves up completely and let them burn off. The great thing about these is you can also use rubbing alcohol in them. When you are done you just pour out the left behind “brown water” and you have a stove that is ready for the next burn..

Overall it was a fun and educational experience….
The Cobra Stove from the site below was my second stove. It was quick easy and effective. I like it.
Well all of this talk about alcohol stoves is fun. I made a stove for myself today that is my fouth attempt. This one worked like a charm! I built this stove using two 24 ounce energy drink cans. I took no measurements, and did the entire stove by eye. There is no glue, or tape in this stove. I didn't have a thumbscrew for the fill hole, so I used a 1.5 inch drywall screw. I will replace this with a nut rivet, and thumbscrew after the holidays. I was able to boil 16 ounces of water from a starting temp of 73 degrees F in roughly 3.5 mins. The stove burned the alcohol in aproixmately 9.5 mins or so. This stove was quite impressive.

I used a box cutter to score the outside wall of the can, then tore it, leaving a nice clean edge. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to bend the inside can a wee bit for fitting. I used the tip of a pair of wire snips to drill the holes. The fuel used was methanol from NAPA. Here are a few pics, and a short video.


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I normally have one as a backup in my emergency kit while camping,hiking, etc... I swear by them.
shameless bump to top for my cheesey video/pics
I have made 2 today with mixed results, the first one didtn run at all (I was using 70% rubbing alcohol) when I tried to dissasemble it, the wall ripped and I started on another one. I went to Autozone and bought a bottle of heet and made another stove.....I ripped the ouside wall again causing a leak, so I mad a tight fitting aluminum foil cup and tried igniting it, it only worked after preheating it with a small candle and then catching the Heet on fire in the center cup.
Punch 16 holes, 1/16 inch, eye ball opposite of each other, and 1 in the middle.
Set knife on 1"+ book, spin 2 can bottoms to score cuts.
Cut with scissors.
Slide solid piece (bottom) into piece with holes.

Beaterar's can screen pot holder works great! Thanks!
Glad it is working for ya, it just fills so many needs. when light and smell are not a worry i often burn wood in the can and use it that way.;)
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Ive tryed making one they all came out as crap. Someone make a step by steam easy guide. By the way when i tryed cutting the ring of the can off couldnt do it straight. all he does is make them and sell them.
Ive tryed making one they all came out as crap. Someone make a step by steam easy guide. By the way when i tryed cutting the ring of the can off couldnt do it straight. all he does is make them and sell them.
Tinny's stoves are top notch, and he's where I learned most of my tricks from. I can make one in about 15 minutes, if I have everything prepped. He uses all kinds of shop tools. He actually uses a lathe to cut the cans perfectly straight. He uses a small press to seat the cans together, and he heats the cans and hot rolls the edges on some, and uses heat to soften the metal on some. I just slap em together, and test em. I've tried making them with large 24oz cans, and standard size beer cans. I've had good luck with them, but you need something that cooks in only a few minutes. They work great for bringing water to a boil, and rehydrating things.

Maybe I will make a video or pictoral on how to make them.. If I have the time. Lately I've been spending all of my time on an investigation case that keeps getting deeper, and wierder as I go.
yeah, Tinny makes killer alcohol stoves, in the quest to get the perfect model. I've made 2 myself, and though they didn't have the master craftsmanship of Tinny's they were nonetheless effective, if moderately less efficient.
Well thanks for posting, maby some day ill get smart and make a good one.
wow. I just made one tonight in about an hour or so. My first one. I used the information from this site
thanks kivi for posting that link. I will try it out tomorrow.
Well thanks for posting, maby some day ill get smart and make a good one.
If you are still having problems with the cut. I just have a utility blade clamped to a peice of wood the right hieght and use it to scor the can then get a good pair of siccors and cut down to the line verticly and bend it off. Works good for me.
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