Homemade Alcohol Stoves for Outdoor Radio Artisans

Updated 2017-09-06

I’ve been experimenting with homemade lightweight alcohol stoves, in particular this design called the Penny Stove. These are so cheap and easy to make, yet amazingly effective. All you need to make the main burner part is two soda cans. To make the pot support I used the bottom of a coffee can and some spouting screen, and I used aluminum flashing to make a windscreen. The fuel is denatured alcohol you get at the hardware store, but you can use about any high proof alcohol like grain (yeah, the stuff you drank in college that made you deathly ill) or your local neighborhood moonshine. (Note that denatured alcohol is poisonous. As with any household chemical, keep it away from children and animals.)

Here’s the burner and the bottom pre-heating thingy. About a half teaspoon of alcohol is first poured into the pre-heating part on the bottom. Then the top part is inserted into the bottom and about one or two teaspoons of alcohol is poured into the center hole in the burner.

Here’s the assembled unit with the penny on top. The penny acts like a regulator and will tilt up and release the pressure inside if it gets too high.

The burner inside the pot support.

The stove heating a cup of water for a late evening cup of tea.

What the flames look like in the dark…..
I haven’t given exact directions on how to construct this as you can go to the Penny Alcohol Stove website and get that. The website seems to insist on a particular size can and some other very specific items. However, I found that the design parameters aren’t too critical and it’s fun to just build many prototypes and see what works the best. Just be sure to do your testing outside in a safe area and wear appropriate eye protection and take the necessary safety precautions. Take this lightweight little stove on your outdoor radio adventures instead of the typical larger stove and you’ll have more backpack space for a linear amp or beverages. Have fun!
(Common sense isn’t a requirement for an amateur radio license. As always, if you kill or maim yourself or others experimenting with this stove, it’s your own darn fault. Standard disclaimers apply.)
2017-09-06 Update: The Penny Alcohol Stove links now point to dead sites, however Instructables has a great article on constructing a penny alcohol stove and what looks to be an even better design.  –Goody K3NG

2 thoughts on “Homemade Alcohol Stoves for Outdoor Radio Artisans

  1. Look at the current issue of Make. Nice high efficiency wood stove. Not as small but looks like a promising piece of camping gear.

    Chris k4fh

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