How to Make a Beer Can Camp Stove
What’s the most important thing an outdoorsman can be? Resourceful. Whether it’s using Doritos as kindling or strapping your headlamp to a Nalgene for a makeshift lantern, hacks like these can make the difference when you’re deep in the backcountry (or even just car camping). Our favorite outdoor party trick? The beer can camp stove. That’s right, you can cook breakfast on your empty cans from last night. It costs nothing and actually holds up pretty well against other backpacking stoves because it’s so light (not to mention, it looks pretty badass). Read on for our step-by-step guide to turning your trash into dinner.
• Aluminum beer or soda
• Isopropyl alcohol
Choose your can and drink up. (Off the record: We knew this was the right project for us when the first step was to toss back a cold one.) When you’re done, clean out the can with water so it isn’t sticky.
Using your knife, you’re going to cut off the top surface of the can. Initially poking through can be tough, so go about it carefully. Then, cut around the rim, keeping it as close as possible for a wider mouth. Once the top is removed, we can use the side of our knife to bend back any of the sharp little burs that remain from the cutting.
Next, use your scissors to carefully cut the can in half. If the cut turns out a little crooked, just be sure to trim off any excess.
Next, on the top half of the can, you’re going to create channels for the flames. Place two fingers inside of the can, and use the back of our knife blade to crimp the can in the space between our fingers. It doesn’t take much pressure, so don’t overdo it. Once we have our first crimp, we’re going to repeat this step every finger-length so that they completely surround the can.
Now we place the crimped portion of the can into the bottom section. If your top section isn’t level, go ahead and trim. You’ll need your cooking surface to be flat.
Finally, somewhere along the top edge of our stove, poke a small “breather hole.” It doesn’t have to be pretty; it just has to let air reach the inside of the stove.
Using Your Stove
To fuel your stove, use isopropyl alcohol, or medical alcohol that can be purchased at any corner drug store or convenience store. Be sure the bottle is at least 90% alcohol, otherwise, the water content makes it too difficult to light. Pour some into the bottom of our stove. 1/4 inch is usually a good measurement to start with for something like coffee. If you decide to cook dinner, you’ll need to add more.
With the fuel in our stove, all we need to do is hold a lighter near the mouth to ignite the fuel. After giving the fire a few seconds to start, we can see the flames reach out of the stove from those side crimps. It’s at this point we can add our pot and cook.
Storing Your Stove
When hiking, things can get banged around, so we suggest storing your stove inside the pot you will use to boil water, and store your alcohol in a shatterproof, durable container to prevent leaks and spills.
Final step: Cook your buddies breakfast (we’ve got recipes for bacon bourbon pancakes and a classic hot toddy). Last night’s brew was good for more than just a hangover. Let us know how your beer can camp stove turns out, and if you’ve got crafty camping hacks of your own, comment below or tag us on Instagram.