Monday, March 17, 2014

Experiment #2014-03-08a: alcohol camp stove

I've been trying to streamline my hiking gear for minimal weight and bulk, and I've been looking at homemade soda can stoves as an alternative to the Trangia stove that had caught my eye.

My first version DIY stove didn't turn out terribly well, but it was fairly straightforward and should improve with subsequent iterations.

I started with some small juice cans like this one.

Putting a razor blade in a book as a makeshift jig, I scored the cans until I could easily split them.

With a small amount of work, I was able to get a couple uniform half-cans.

Then filed down the edges to prevent unnecessary cuts.

I had some problems assembling the two can bottoms, so I started with a sort of shim to try to get the top piece fully contained in the bottom.

That failed to be fruitful, so for this version, I cut little notches around the inner piece, folded each tab in, and made it work. Sort of.

The problem with this approach is that the tiniest jut on this piece will shred the outer piece when the two are compressed together.

Once assembled, I drilled 16 holes around the edge for the stove jets. I also added a hole in the middle as a way to fill the stove with fuel.

Unfortunately, I only had 70% isopropyl, which I found is terrible for stove fuel. So bad, in fact, that it couldn't self-sustain. My local ACE Hardware had some denatured alcohol that is significantly better.

I'll be working on alternate versions -- likely using soda cans -- in the coming weeks. I'm evaluating the stoves on the following primary criteria:

  1. Ease of construction, use. I'd prefer not having to separate the pieces when done cooking.
  2. Strength. A stove that doubles as a pot stand would be great.