DIY – Pressurized Alcohol Stove

2009Oct04_0117Thanks to StumbleUpon, I have managed to come across multiple plans for DIY Lightweight Alcohol Burning stove. I finally decided to combine the knowledge I gathered from each of the articles and put one together myself.

After getting my first one together I modified the plans a bit and made a second one with the goal to have it hold a bit more fuel (for the longer cooking time). Version 2, as I’ll call it, was able to produce a 7-minute boil time, and a 20-minute run time before dropping down to a simmer. I used a windscreen and Heet as my fuel source.

Instructions after the jump!

What you’ll need:

  • 2x Aluminum Cans (soda or beer)
  • 1x Piece of 200-grit sandpaper or sanding sponge
  • 1x Utility knife and extra blade(s)
  • 1x Drill and a 1/16″ bit
  • 1x Penny
  • 1x Pinch of Fiberglass Insulation (from your attic) or Perlite (from your Home + Garden store)
  • 1x Yellow Bottle of HEET from Automotive section of your local Walmart (I’ve heard bad things happen when you use the red bottle) or Denatured Alcohol from a paint supply store.

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Sand the bottom 2-3 inches of the aluminum cans clean from any paints, dyes, sealants, etc.
  2. Cut the bottom of the cans off, an inch for the first one, 3/4 of an inch for the second one.
  3. Clean the cans and sand the rough edges so they’re less likely to cut you.
  4. Put your pinch of insulation or perlite in the base (this is the “taller” cut-off can).
  5. Drill a grouping of 5 holes in the center of the burner (the “shorter” cut-off can), this will be your filling holes. (Figure 1)


    Figure 1

  6. Drill 12-16 evenly spaced holes around the outside edge of the burner. (Figure 1)
  7. Make 4-6 evenly spaced cuts towards the burner holes (only go up to the curve in the can) so the sharp edges of the burner can be bent ever so slightly inwards to fit snugly into the base.
  8. Put the two pieces together, they should snug up with a little bit of pressure but be careful as you’re working with sharp edges of aluminum.

Lighting Instructions

  1. Open your bottle of HEET (or Denatured Alcohol) and pour such that your stove is 1/2 to 3/4 filled. Overfilling will only cause the stove to take longer to light, and could lead to spills which can be very dangerous.
  2. Put the penny over the filling hole.
  3. Fill the lighting cup (that’s what it becomes when you put the penny over the filling holes) with your fuel.
  4. Light the fuel in the lighting cup.
  5. Hopefully, there was enough fuel in the lighting cup burning long enough to heat the alcohol in the base such that the burner lit from the alcohol fumes. Repeat steps 3-4 as necessary.


boilingpotUsing my GSI Pinnacle cook kit, a quart of water, a coat hanger (that I fabricated into a pot rest), the windscreen, and the stove; I was able to make a bowl of rice in about 17 minutes. The coat hanger wasn’t as sturdy as I would have liked, but I could have taken a little more time and designed a better one that would support more weight.

One of the foreseeable problems I have with this stove is the same problem my MSR WhisperLite had: if it was cold, it took awhile for the stove to heat up to the point that the fuel would evaporate to produce a good cooking flame. Another is regards to the fact that it doesn’t have a long burn-time. Other than that, it’d be great for trail-side lunches that require heated water.

successNow you can build an ultra-lightweight stove, boil water in 7 minutes, and still have enough heat to cook a boil in the bag rice. Not bad at all for less than $2 in materials!


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