How to Make a Backpacking Stove

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Creating a DIY backpacking stove can be a fun and rewarding project, and it’s a great way to customize your gear to fit your needs. Here’s a simple method to make a lightweight and efficient alcohol stove, commonly known as a “soda can stove”:

backpacking stove

Materials Needed for Backpacking Stove:

  1. Aluminum soda can (empty and cleaned)
  2. Sharp utility knife or scissors
  3. Fine sandpaper or steel wool
  4. Pushpin or thumbtack
  5. Marker or pen
  6. Fiberglass insulation (optional)
  7. Denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol


  1. Prepare the Can:
    • Using a sharp utility knife or scissors, carefully cut the top and bottom off the aluminum soda can to create a cylinder.
    • Cut the cylinder to your desired height, typically around 2 inches tall. This will be the body of your stove.
    • Sand the cut edges with fine sandpaper or steel wool to remove any sharp burrs and ensure a smooth surface.
  2. Mark and Punch Holes:
    • Using a marker or pen, mark evenly spaced dots around the circumference of the can, about 1/2 to 1 inch from the top edge.
    • With a pushpin or thumbtack, carefully punch holes through the marked dots to create airflow vents. These holes will allow oxygen to enter the stove and support combustion.
  3. Prepare the Fuel Reservoir:
    • If desired, cut out a small piece of fiberglass insulation to fit inside the bottom of the stove. This will help absorb alcohol and aid in combustion.
    • Place the fiberglass insulation inside the bottom of the stove, ensuring it fits snugly.
  4. Fill and Ignite:
    • Pour denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol into the bottom of the stove, filling it to about halfway or slightly less. Be careful not to overfill.
    • Place the stove on a stable, non-flammable surface, away from any flammable materials or sources of ignition.
    • Using a lighter or matches, carefully ignite the alcohol in the stove through one of the vent holes.
  5. Cooking:
    • Once the alcohol is ignited, place a pot or pan with your food or water on top of the stove.
    • The alcohol will burn steadily, producing a blue flame. Adjust the intensity of the flame by partially covering or uncovering the vent holes with your pot or by using a windscreen.
  6. Extinguishing:
    • To extinguish the stove, simply remove the pot and allow the alcohol to burn out completely. Alternatively, you can snuff out the flame by covering the stove with a metal lid or another non-flammable object.

Safety Tips:

  • Always use caution when working with flammable materials and open flames.
  • Never use the stove indoors or in poorly ventilated areas.
  • Allow the stove to cool completely before handling or storing it.
  • Practice Leave No Trace principles and properly dispose of any leftover fuel or waste from the stove.

By following these instructions, you can create a simple and lightweight backpacking stove that’s perfect for outdoor adventures. Experiment with different designs and materials to customize your stove to fit your needs and preferences.

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Hi!I’m Kim!

A passionate adventurer, homesteader, home cook and food lover who loves nothing more than sharing my favorite trips, skills , and recipes with the world.



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