DIY - Homemade alcohol stove


It's easy to be seduced by the sexy merchandising at your big outdoor store, especially the dizzying array of high-tech stoves. (Yes, I‘ve used it, and it’s an amazing snow melting inferno, but $240 for an MSR Reactor stove, seriously?!)

MSR text.jpg

But, if you're tempted to get one of these, ask yourself this simple question. When I’m on a fair weather backpacking trip or climb, do I REALLY need to boil water in three minutes, or can I wait a few more? You know the answer. You can probably wait.

So, try this. How 'bouta stove:

  • that costs about $0.50 in parts

  • you can make in about 10 minutes with simple household tools (or even a Swiss Army Knife)

  • burns cheap, readily available fuel

  • burns silently

  • weighs under 1 ounce

  • has no moving parts that can break

  • boils a pint of water in about 8 minutes?

Check out the link at the button below.

Homemade alcohol stoves are big with long distance hikers, and have been solidly field tested. One popular model is called a "cat" stove, simply because it’s often made with an empty cat food can.

I've made a few of these stoves and they works great. It’s not designed to melt snow on an expedition, but for a shorter trip in mild weather it could easily serve as your main backpacking stove. If nothing else, it’s a fun evening project, good for scouts, and could well serve as a disaster preparedness item - with some rubbing alcohol and a few cat food cans, you can cook food after The Big Earthquake when gas and power may be down. A windscreen made from heavy duty tinfoil and a paperclip is a fine addition.


Here's a shot of my cat stove in action. Just a cat food can with two rows of holes.

(Note, the soot on the pan is not from the stove, it's from cooking over a real fire)

cat stove.JPG