15 Minute DIY Camp Stove

Okay. Let’s get this straight. First off, I sure didn’t invent the idea. I saw a more refined version of this stove when Erin and Hig of Ground Truth Trekking passed through Cordova en route from Puget Sound to the Bering Sea by foot (and pack raft). Though I found it hard to believe, they claimed to have used this stove the whole way, burning only twigs to boil water in just 10 or 15 minutes. Often with wet wood!

Secondly, although I have been intending to make a tin can version of their stove ever since I saw it, I had just never gotten around to it. What really motivated me to finally kick my own butt into gear was my addiction to good coffee, and a purely selfish desire to stay out of Walmart.

We were going to be heading out of the good-coffee-island of New Orleans, into the surrounding good-coffee-less sea of The South for four whole days. How would we survive? We hadn’t known if we would do any camping at all down here, so we had only brought minimal gear. Our tent, sleeping pads and one sleeping bag (blankets would make up the extra). No Whisperlite. No blackened from the campfire cooking pots. I had sort of thought that if we did end up camping much, it would be car camping, and it would be worth it to just buy one of those folding two burner propane dealies. But the only place I’d seen here that would sell that sort of thing was a Walmart. And what with our last minute road trip idea, I’d have to make the journey to the dreaded Walmart on Thanksgiving morning. No way in Hell I could want to do that.

But I did have a large size tin can in the recycling bag.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Or, as in this case, the mother of ass kicking.

No tin snips, not even a crappy knife to punch holes with. Didn’t have the right size piece of wood to wedge into the can to make hammering a nail through possible. Hubby and Toddler asleep, Babe fussing, I didn’t have much time. I used a screw and my drill to make a ring of holes, and then punched through the holes with a butter knife to cut out the door. A few other details and 15 minutes later I had an adorably ghetto camp stove!

Of course, I had no idea if it would work. Kind of didn’t believe it would. But ground a bunch of coffee and packed the french press just in case.

I am proud to announce it did work! Beautifully well for a first attempt, 15 minute hack job. The first morning using it was gleeful. I didn’t mind the need for constant feeding and occasional blowing, who doesn’t love playing with fire? To think I made it out of an old tin can! To think I almost went out and bought a camp stove!

Of course, it’s pretty much just for boiling stuff. Not a very adjustable heat source, it’s high or nothin’ baby. But, the simplicity of it is fantastic.

After a little research online I found a good list of homemade stove links. The tin can stick stove appears to be called a Hobo Stove. Who can’t love a name like that? There seems to be lots of variation in the richly creative world of DIY. I intend to trial a few a these, and I promise to keep you updated on the results.

BTW: It took about 14 minutes to boil a quart of water. I’m sure this would be extremely variable based on the quality of your wood, breeze, feeding frequency, etc.

Note: Those holes you see in the back were my idea of exit ventilation, but were inadequate. I had to set two sticks on top of the can, and set the kettle atop those. Which worked fine, really.

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