Make your own: Fancy Feast Alcohol Backpacking Stove

I received my first Fancy Feast stove from Ryan Bozis (aka Major Slacker), who attended one of my presentations in Virginia in Spring 2006. I of course thanked him for it, but given how simple the stove was, I could not imagine that it was better than the stove that I had used for most of my Sea-to-Sea Route hike, a complex double-walled open jet model made from Red Bull cans.

But then I tested it against my original stove and several other designs, and I found that it was the fastest and most fuel efficient of them all. Moreover, it was slightly lighter than the other designs; its simple design meant it involved fewer materials, less time, and hardly any expense; it doubled as its own pot stand, which helped to simplify my whole cook system; and it did not require any pre-heating. I have been using this model since Summer 2006.


Complete stove setup, with windscreen opened to show stove. This particular stove has been used for 300+ meals. The soot on the pot is from open fires, not from the stove.

Key Specs and Advantages

  • Weighs just .3 oz (about 10 grams)!
  • Costs about $.50 for the cat food can with tax, and $3-$5 for the hole punch.
  • It will never clog, and there are no moving or delicate parts that can break. Even if it is accidentally squashed, there is a chance that it can be re-shaped and used again.
  • Serves as a pot stand, which means you’ll have one less thing to carry.
  • Burns denatured alcohol, a cheap and widely available fuel that can be purchased at hardware stores (in the paint department), gas stations (HEET gas-line antifreeze), and hiking hostels. You can also use Everclear, or grain alcohol, though this is more expensive. Denatured alcohol can be stored in plastic bottles from Platypus or any drink company (e.g. Pepsi).
  • Uses about .6 oz of alcohol to boil about 1.5 cups of water, depending on your pot, the starting temperature of the water, and the efficiency of the windscreen. The water will boil within 5-7 minutes.

Disadvantages

  • Because the stove is only 2.5 inches in diameter, larger pots may not be stable enough. In this case, it might be better to substitute the Fancy Feast can for a larger can, like a tuna fish can.
  • Because this stove is a side-burner, smaller pots (e.g. 600 ml mugs) may not receive enough of the flame. In this case, it’d probably be more efficient to make a top-burner model instead.
  • It does not have a simmer feature, i.e. there is no control over the flame output. This will not be a problem if the extent of your backcountry cooking skills is boiling, which is the only thing necessary if you are content (like I am) with meals based around angel hair pasta, couscous, dehydrated and freeze-dried foods, potato flakes, soups, etc.
  • There is no OFF switch. The stove will burn until there is no more fuel to burn, unless it is smothered with a pot/mug, dirt, or water. It is extremely difficult, though possible, to blow the stove out.
  • It is not as fast as a white gas or canister model. If eating dinner 2-3 minutes earlier is important enough to you that you are willing to carry at least an extra half-pound, by all means… Personally, while I’m waiting for the water to boil, I stretch out, look at tomorrow’s maps and guidebook sections, put together tomorrow’s food, or finish setting up my shelter.

Necessary Supplies

3-oz Fancy Feast cat food can, or another can of the same size. I can usually find the Fancy Feast knock-off brand for $.39 at my local grocery store.

1-hole punch. A standard hole punch is adequate, but an arts & craft model that has a bigger reach is easier to use. With my pole punch I can punch holes 2 inches from the edge of a can or paper sheet, whereas with a standard hole punch I’d be limited to about .75 inches.

Step by Step Directions

Watch the video!

1. Remove the cat food and wash out the can.

2. Flatten the sharp edge that was left by the lid with the hole punch (or another hard object, like a butter knife), in order to avoid being cut.

3. Just below the lip of can, make one complete row of hole punches. Avoid breaking the tin between the holes by keeping them far enough apart – about one-eighth of an inch.

4. Below the first layer of hole punches, make another row of holes. The middle of the bottom holes should be directly underneath the 1/8-inch gaps between the upper holes.

5. Make a windscreen, following another one of my articles. A windscreen MUST be used with this stove. Otherwise you will struggle to get a boil, especially in windy conditions.

Operating Instructions

This stove is extremely easy to use. Pour denatured alcohol into the stove, light the alcohol with a match, wait 20-30 seconds for the fuel to warm up, and then put your pot on top of the stove.

I typically boil slightly less water than my meal actually requires but optimum consistency/texture. Once the food has absorbed all of the water I boiled, I then add non-boiled water until the correct consistency is achieved. This has a few advantages: I use less fuel, I never end up with “couscous soup,” and I do not have to wait for my dinner to cool because the non-boiled water cools it down enough to eat right away.

Variations

The 3-oz Fancy Feast stove is ideal for a 1-person cook system with a ~1-liter-ish pot. Personally, I use a .9-liter Evernew titanium pot, which has a 5-inch diameter bottom. If you plan to use a larger pot, and you are concerned about the pot being unstable on the 2.5-inch diameter Fancy Feast can, you can follow the same instructions as above but substitute the Fancy Feast can for a larger can, like a tuna fish can.

I have never done tests to prove it, but it’s reasonable to think that the number of hole punches affect the heat output and the fuel efficiency of the stove. With more holes, the stove probably burns hotter and less efficient. With fewer holes, the stove probably burns less hot but more efficient. The optimum number of holes is probably a function of the pot (its material, thickness, and shape), the quantity and starting temperature of water being boiled, and the performance of the windscreen…in other words, too many other variables to make this sort of testing worthwhile.

Video

85 Responses to Make your own: Fancy Feast Alcohol Backpacking Stove

  1. Michael February 22, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    This is just plain damn cool. I own a MSR Reactor which is a great cooking system but it weighs a ton by comparasion and I only ever use it to boil water. I’ve ordered your book and look forward to reading your ideas and opinions on gear.

  2. greg February 27, 2012 at 10:38 am #

    This is a great tutorial!!!

  3. Dave March 7, 2012 at 9:55 pm #

    Skurka, you evil genius.

    Someone tell me again why we’ve spent hundreds of dollars for backpacking stoves.

    • Brandon Kim December 19, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

      Exactly what I was going to say! It is also lighter than most backpacking stoves we carry! Continue on with the awesome inventions, my friend!

  4. Steven Schenck March 8, 2012 at 6:18 am #

    Very Cool – Just got a Trangia for car camping – but will make one of these for backpacking – thanks.

  5. Jeff Rotondo March 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

    Great Cat stove. I have used one for years and also made one out of a Potted Meat can.

  6. Jeff Rotondo March 13, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    I’ve also lined my Cat stove with fiberglass wick that I got from a hardware store for under 2 dollars. this seems to increase the boil time and keeps the fuel from sloshing around.

    • wouter August 18, 2013 at 6:04 am #

      I’d personally advise to use a fiberglass or glass wool (home insulation) wick to help getting the alcohol to evaporate and actually burn in colder temperatures. I’ve experienced that cold alcohol (in cold air temperatures) can be very, very hard to light.

  7. Greg March 20, 2012 at 6:11 am #

    Awesome concept. Thanks for posting it. This makes all the complicated $100 super lightweight stoves look silly by comparison. Can’t wait to build it.

  8. buck March 26, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    One question. I noticed the pattern of the holes of the stove in use in the field (the first photo) is different than the one you make in the video. Is there a reason for the difference?

    • Andrew Skurka March 29, 2012 at 6:24 am #

      I have not tested the performance of stoves with more holes versus less. Probably more holes gets hotter, and fewer holes is more efficient. But not sure it matters.

      • Mat January 13, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

        I just did some testing (not exactly scientific) on this today and here is what I found. The stove needs a lot of oxygen to burn hot, I boiled faster when there was a little breeze although I’m sure the heat was being pushed away and I lost some effeciency. I started out with a tuna can as it was what I had lying around, and just put a single row of holes at the top. I figured this can had a much wider diameter so it equaled out to about the same amount of holes. This tuna stove would burn for a while but the water never got hot enough to boil. I then got a Fancy Feast can so it would fit within the heat fins on my jetfoil and I did two full rows, as shown in the pictures above. I could get a boil going in my jetboil container in under 5 minutes this way.

        Since this stove is light enough, you could almost carry two (different size cans so they fit within each other) so you can have a boil and a simmer stove. Even though it’s only half an ounce, the desire to carry two cans depends on your meals and cooking needs.

  9. Jim March 28, 2012 at 6:27 am #

    I am reading your book now. When I got to the part about the fancy feast stove I googled it and got here. I think I will try using this stove with the cup/pot of my Jetboil Sol Ti.

  10. Jim March 28, 2012 at 6:38 am #

    The Golite “Jam” is on the cover of your book. As you discuss items in your book you often give “Skurka’s Picks”. You did not go into light weight packs. Have you used the Jam? Do you have a one or two sentence evaluation on it or Golight products in general?

    • Andrew Skurka March 29, 2012 at 6:21 am #

      I believe I discuss the Jam in the Skurka’s Picks section in the chapter on backpacks. It has been my go-to thru-hiking pack since it first came out in 2003.

  11. Paul Dominic April 6, 2012 at 10:49 pm #

    Very cool , hope to get more tips from your book. Thank you.

  12. mudpoet April 21, 2012 at 4:29 pm #

    I’m making one right now and i’m finding it impossible to penetrate the can with the hole punch. The best I’ve been able to do so far is to score the can with the hole punch and finish it off with needle-nosed pliers. What am I doing wrong? It’s taken 20 minutes to do 3 holes!

    • mudpoet April 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

      Wouldn’t ya know it…as soon as I posted that, the holes started coming. Looking forward to your workshop in Boulder next week.

  13. Sam Koebrich May 6, 2012 at 5:55 pm #

    Hey Andrew-
    I’ve been using the FancyFeast for a few months and love it. I actually did a bit of fiddeling with an energy drink can (VUKA, they’re sold in the Denver area) and by inverting the aluminum top of the can inside of the bottom, and by punching holes, have been able to get a pretty efficient design.

    Any opinions on JetBoils, or comparable “all in one boil systems” I’m doing a thru hike of the CT this summer and am not sure if the weight of Denatured Alcohol / HEET, will be that much better then just carrying a can of compresed gas.

    • Andrew Skurka May 7, 2012 at 5:40 pm #

      When I have calculated the weight of stove systems over time, it takes a very long time (i.e. several weeks of having one meal per day) for the efficiency of non-alcohol stoves to offset their higher original weight. Of course, weight is not the only benefit of an alcohol stove — the fuel is also much cheaper and more widely available. If it’s of any value, I carried my alcohol stove across the Yukon Arctic and Brooks Range, when resupply points were often two weeks in between. If I was nervous about how much fuel I had versus how many more days I had to go, I cooked over a fire, which had the added benefit of warmth and comfort.

  14. Andy I May 20, 2012 at 2:25 am #

    Really good but not very stable. Have you come across any ‘hacks’ to improve this. Currently thinking if fashioning something out of a wire coathanger!?

  15. Jim Smith June 10, 2012 at 10:44 pm #

    The Fancy Feast Can is lined with plastic which contains biosfenal A. I am wondering what the effect of burning this plastic is and the effects on the food and the air. It would be good if you could just have the tin can without the plastic lining.

    • Andrew Skurka June 11, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      Good to know. I imagine it gets burned off with the first usage. If you’re concerned about it, it might be worth running a test burn in an open area before using the stove so that all the plastic is burned off before you use it for real.

  16. Alan Dixon June 13, 2012 at 8:04 am #

    BTW a canister stove, even a JetBoil can never surpass the low weight of an efficient alcohol stove system. No matter how long the trip. I have done the numbers.

    Why? Each time the canister stove system gets close to catching up (propane/butane fuel has more energy) it’s time to get a new canister. And those canisters are heavy!

    Bottom line: The weight of the stove and fuel canisters is too large to be overcome, no matter the length of the trip.

    -Alan

  17. Baron June 24, 2012 at 10:08 am #

    I have figured out a way to make this a little better with only a slightly larger can you put it over the thing cut out the can till it fits over its with only a 2-3 mm gap between sides and top make sure ot touches ground now you have something to mininmize risk of fire while you are not using aka waiting to burn out only problem is some fuels will cause suit build up on can

    • Baron June 24, 2012 at 10:12 am #

      I am also working on a way to use this to make simmer type set up by lowering heat output

  18. Nick Brandt June 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    Here is a tip for getting that gooey fancy feast label glue off the can.
    1. Remove the label.
    2. Run hot water over the can to get the glue good and gooey.
    3. Then apply olive oil liberally and let it set for at least 30 seconds.
    4. Finally rub firmly with a Bounty paper towel and should all come off after a minute or two.

    My can looked real ugly after being in my pack for couple trips until I figured this out. Alcohol was the first thing I tried and that just added to the mess.

    Happy Trails,
    Nick

  19. marius July 16, 2012 at 11:58 am #

    I tried the two full rows variant, the 50% 2nd row variant and a tuna can one in the Sierras earlier this month. ~9000 feet, temps in the high 50s.
    The two full rows one definitely burns hotter and faster but throws flames around the pot, burning the handles etc.
    The 50% 2nd row one manages to boil 50% more water per fuel load.
    The larger tuna can variant was temperamental with respect to wind and temperature. Surface area to circumference ratio scaling issue?

    So 50% 2nd row was the winner but might bring a two full rows one to cover harsher circumstances.

  20. Jack July 16, 2012 at 3:30 pm #

    Will this stove work at high alt. around 10,000 ft.

    • Andrew Skurka July 16, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

      I’ve used the stove extensively at these elevations with excellent success. The one consideration though: the boiling point is lower at these elevations so you need to cook things longer. So long as you stick with instant rice, couscous, Ramen, etc., you’ll be fine. But if you expect to cook 25-minute rice you’ll be wishing you had a more robust stove.

  21. Brett Peugh July 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    I have been looking for something like this for awhile. I am going out to buy a can inn the next few minutes. Is there something more durable for the windscreen than aluminum foil? Now I just have to figure out a simple, easy and cheap way to use wood. Thanks.

  22. Brett Peugh July 20, 2012 at 9:32 pm #

    Made one using a 1/4″ hole punch and used it on a 1.3 Ti Evernew and it preformed like a champ. Going to make some more tomorrow for friends.

  23. Daniel October 4, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    I’ve come across a really cool version of this that uses a beer can to make a vapor barrier. It conserves fuel and i think boils water faster. here’s a youtube link. http://youtu.be/7hdnBHb09iI

    • Andrew Skurka October 9, 2012 at 12:39 pm #

      There are many alcohol stove designs that are more fuel efficient and/or more powerful than my preferred Fancy Feast Stove. But the differences are marginal, and IMO they aren’t enough to justify the additional assembly cost or time, or the need to carry a pot stand. This stove works very well, and it’s stupidly cheap and simple, which makes it hard to beat.

  24. Casey October 10, 2012 at 11:57 pm #

    How long will 8oz of fuel last when using this stove primarily to boil water and cook very basic dehydrated meals?

    • Andrew Skurka October 11, 2012 at 10:32 am #

      Depends on the volume of water, the starting temperature of the water, and your elevation. Personally, I like soupy meals, and for dinner I typically boil 2-3 cups of water, which requires .75-1 oz per meal. But your mileage may vary, and the only way to know for sure is to test it out using your own system.

  25. CJ October 14, 2012 at 6:42 pm #

    Just wanted to say that I made a Fancy Feast stove last Thursday in 10 minutes, as promised, and used it this past weekend on a backpacking trip in Zaleski State Forest with my scouts. It worked exceptionally well! It’s _so_ light!! Thank you for the directions and recommendation!!

    • Chris Brokes November 30, 2012 at 6:15 am #

      Scout warning. BSA policy prohibits the use of ‘home made’ stoves and recommends against the use of alcohol fuel.

      So if your camping with scouts you’ll end up buying a vargo, trangia, or similar manufactured stove.

      On the other hand, those of us that aren’t shackled by BSA’s liability limitations LOVE homemade stoves!

  26. Glen November 3, 2012 at 12:03 am #

    Came across this post today while reading some other stove reviews. This reminded me of a stove a guy makes that he started making for people on a forum for adventure motorcycle riders. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=431851

    You had mentioned testing quite a few different designs, didn’t know if you had tried that one yet.

    Also, it’s only using 11 holes for a regular or 7 for simmer stove.

  27. Milos Simovic November 7, 2012 at 6:36 pm #

    Thanks a bunch for the tutorial! Just made one myself for around 2 dollars, and it’s almost as fast as my old Brunton canister stove!

  28. Leo November 16, 2012 at 8:08 am #

    What is the hole size? i tried it with a 4.5 mm/ 0.177 inch punch hole. they seem to me a bit small.

    • Andrew Skurka November 16, 2012 at 8:20 am #

      Yes, those holes will probably be too small. A standard hole punch makes 0.25-inch holes.

  29. Leo November 25, 2012 at 9:46 am #

    Down here in Singapore there are 4.5mm hole puncher available. Might go with star or heart shape puncher instead. Or source it from the US.

  30. Leo November 26, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    got one with 6mm, next the can.

  31. Rob of the WV Wilderness Vagabond December 5, 2012 at 10:07 am #

    I will say this – when considering alcohol stoves, it’s not so much the stove as it is the windscreen. I went through a frustrating period of building cat can and other stoves – then discovered the use of the Caldera Cone type windscreen, and ! Presto ! many issues are solved. So, what are the advantages of using an alcohol stove and a cone-type windscreen?
    The advantages: 1) sustainable fuel source (alcohol), 2) fuel easy to carry in very light containers, 3) fuel does not ‘flash’ when ignited, 4) typically the least heavy option for a solo, often for a duo of hikers. 5) fuel does not dissolve your fleece, etc. when spilled (as white gas can), 6) no pressurization needed (relates to #2 above (i.e., pressurized systems (butane, white gas) require much heavier containers/canisters). 7) Fewer issues with quickly burning foods/pan. 8) Fewer environmental issues (how many abandoned canisters have you found?, see #1 above, recycling of butane canisters rarely happens, use the same alcohol container until it is recycled), 9) cone-type windscreen is far more stable (to tipping) and better in the wind than other systems = less accidental loss of food, better performance. 10) you can comfortably use a lighter (ultralight) pan with fewer to no issues of burning. 11) you can carry grain alcohol as extra fuel(in case of trip issues such as unexpected cold weather, failure of filter, where you need to boil water to drink) – and toast yourself (drink the grain) during the final days of the trip for having the foresight and intelligence to use an alcohol system, yahoo.
    The disadvantages: 1) only one size pan works with a particular cone (not much of an issue for JMT/PCT hikers because the rarely carry two or three pot sets) – caveat – see Captain Paranoia cone adapter (link below), 2) slower cooking times (I find that I can set up camp or take down camp while the cooking is progressing, and soaking foods after initial boiling saves on fuel and needs no monitoring).
    I’ve found that with judicious use of soaking and food selection, I use about the same weight of alcohol fuel as I once allotted for in white gas, despite the admittedly lower BTU of alcohol. This is a bit less than 2 ounces per day. And, I do not have the greater weight of stove and canister and pump. Nor am I carrying heavy empty canisters.
    My site, the WV site, has a link to sorting out your own needs. It also contains the Captain Paranoia detailed instructions for making your own very nice alcohol stove. And, bonus!, it contains a link to a video for making your own cone-type windscreen. See it today and abandon those climate change chaos fuels. Site also contains a few recipe examples for fuel saving cooking. Here it is:

    http://wildernessvagabond.com/personal/personal.htm#cat%20stove

    P.S. Dave and I hiked the JMT using one stove and one 1.3 liter ultralight pot and about 3 ounces of alcohol per day. Use denatured alcohol, the heat and other alcohols contain far less BTUs.

    Enjoy your meal, Rob of the WV

    main link to recipes, etc. Including alc stove, here:

    http://wildernessvagabond.com/personal/personal.htm

    And, the home page is:

    http://wildernessvagabond.com/index.html

  32. jt January 2, 2013 at 10:42 pm #

    Very simple, functional, and not too bad to look at either. I like how you do not need a pot stand. However, if efficiency is a concern, there are several other DIY alternatives that are more refined and efficient. I like Mark Jurey’s penny stove 2.0. It uses less fuel, costs about the same, and while slightly more complicated to assemble, is easy enough for nearly anyone to assemble. Only drawback is the need for a pot stand. Also, for off-grid, self sufficiency freaks, there are the wood gasification stoves which also work remarkably well (considering fuel cost and the added benefit of not having to rely on refined/liquid fuels). The BioLite is an awesome example of such a stove.

  33. Kevin Christopherson January 8, 2013 at 6:14 am #

    I’ve finally made my own fancy feast stove, as well as a stoves made from smaller, tomato paste cans and one made from a tuna fish can.
    The tuna can burns much less efficient, as it takes the same amount of time to boil the same water in the same container and it burns for just as long as the other cans, which hold much less denatured alcohol. Just in case anyone was wondering.
    I do have a question though, about whether the stoves hold out until they’re bent out of shape or if there is something else that can render them useless, for example do they fall apart because the fire makes them weak after a few dozen uses?
    I really admire what you do and wish I could turn my dreams into a profession the way you have.

    Thanks,

    Kevin

    • Andrew Skurka January 8, 2013 at 9:28 am #

      I’ve used a few Fancy Feast stoves for hundreds of meals and they’ve shown no sign of failing. It might be safe to say, “It’ll work until you lose it.” Even if you squash a stove (perhaps by stepping on it), you can bend it back into place and keep using it, though I’d probably replace it the next convenient opportunity I had.

  34. David King (@CoyoteChips) January 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

    I use a Stanley stainless steel pot, 3.25-inch base, 5.5 inches tall. My Fancy Feast stove has one row of 16 holes, near the top.

    I agree that the primary variable is the wind screen. I made mine from a disposable cake tin — cut off the top rim and bottom — which has been pleasantly durable.

    The thicker-than-foil aluminum holds up better if the edge happens to get in the flame. Fitting the wind screen closer to the sides of the pot has a dramatic increase in efficiency over a loose fit.

  35. Mark Russell January 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm #

    I think the Wellness brand of cat food makes a better cat food can backpacking stove ;)
    Seriously….I have used this kind of stove multiple times. I get strange looks from some fellow backpackers but….I will bet that most of them and go back and try it!

  36. Graefyl January 18, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    I just used the smallest Heinz baked beans tin. 8 holes top with the lower offset hole under and I was drinkng my coffee within 2 minutes using IPA (but it cokes the pan bottom). I live in the UK and de-natured alcohol is illegal, they have this stupid, blue, smelly stuff, called methylated spirits and it takes 3 times as long to get my water hot (plus makes everything in my backpack smell for months) – dumped it. Haven’t tried naphtha in it yet – I have my small MSR pan on a stand that sits about 10mm above the burner for stability so may be okay with naphtha – dunno yet.

  37. David Riddle February 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    This looks great! Now I only have to wait until my cat finishes the other half of the can that she started this morning and I can make my own. One question though: Is it necessary that the pot sit directly on top of the can for the stove to function properly? The reason I ask is it seems that simmering could be achieved by making a wire stand that could be adjusted to different heights above the pot. Anybody have any idea if this will work?

  38. JLund February 8, 2013 at 11:41 pm #

    I think I will be making one of these once I get home tonight! Will be nice for solo backpacking being as light as it is. Won’t really be able to use it for my search and rescue missions due to the fact we need to be quick moving to respond and the quicker you can boil water, the better. We are required to use canister stoves when not at high elevation due to risk of spilled fuel. But hey, I can still use it when going out on my own!!

  39. ToppDogg February 25, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    Graefyl January 18, 2013 at 10:04 am # “I live in the UK and de-natured alcohol is illegal, they have this stupid, blue, smelly stuff, called methylated spirits and it takes 3 times as long to get my water hot (plus makes everything in my backpack smell for months) – dumped it.”

    Try HEET brand gas line anti freeze from the car repair store. Methyl Alcohol

  40. Steve March 2, 2013 at 7:17 pm #

    I read about your stove design in the newest Backpacker; sounds really cool and I’m looking forward to trying it. They got one thing wrong though, the way their article is worded makes it sound like paint thinner = denatured alcohol and is a good fuel for this. Any idea what would happen if someone tries mineral spirits in an alcohol stove? I would think big yellow sooty flames but I can’t say I’ve tried.

  41. Reece March 15, 2013 at 1:05 pm #

    Andrew, this stove is fantastic…thanks so much for sharing. My new goto.

  42. Ryan March 20, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    Can the denatured alcohol be extinguished and relit later? If so, can you put the unused portion back in your alcohol bottle or does it need to be kept separate from portions that have not already been lit?

    Thanks for the post. I and my wallet appreciate it.

    • Andrew Skurka March 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm #

      It is difficult to extinguish the flame, and may not end well — you could ignite something nearby, or blow dirt at your hiking buddies. It’s best just to learn exactly how much fuel your stove needs, then let it burn out. Beginners might consider using a small measuring cup, like those that come with cough syrup bottles.

      • Ryan March 22, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

        Thanks!

      • mrphotoman March 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm #

        You can easily extinguish the flame by simply placing a cup or metal container over the stove upside down. The flame will go out in a few seconds.

        • Andrew Skurka March 25, 2013 at 11:46 am #

          Assuming you have an extra metal cup or pot nearby. If you don’t, still the best thing to do is measure out the fuel carefully and let it burn out completely.

  43. Damian May 3, 2013 at 9:09 am #

    I got your link from looking for the biostove. So glad I read your critique. My problem is the denatured alcohol. I live in England and as far as I’m aware it is, by Law, tinted purple or green to prevent people drinking it (we are British after all) am I being stupid or is this really the case that it would be poisonous to use!? I have just literally thought about zippo fuel- do you reckon this would be a good substitute (costing might rise slightly) maybe I could import it!
    Your help’s appreciated
    Damo

    • Andrew Skurka May 3, 2013 at 9:48 am #

      It is poisonous here too, though not tinted with color. Still works well as fuel.

    • Paul May 28, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

      DO not use zippo fuel. It is gasoline based and will be very smokey and potentially explosive. If you don’t like the smell of “methylated” spirits (which is denatured alcohol, buy so called bio ethanol, which is an undyed denatured alcohol.Both are 95% ethyl alcohol plus about 4% methyl alcohol (the poison) and 1% made up of maybe a ketone (methyl ethyl is frequently used, a bit of dye, and in the case of meths, something to make it smell repulsive.

  44. Bob May 12, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Great! I use a spam (yuck!) can for bigger pots. It holds more fuel.

  45. David May 24, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    Andrew,

    I haven’t read through your book in its entirety, but is there any mention of your cooking method? I noticed you use the Evernew 0.9 L pot–do you cook in your pot or do you do “Freezer Bag Cooking”? I’ve done FBC in the past, but I’m thinking of moving to in-the-pot cooking to save weight on plastic. Gussetted “freezer bags” actually designed to hold boiling water weigh in the neighborhood of 10 grams, and I can see all this plastic adding up on a more lengthy trip.

    I’m trying to decide right now between the Evernew 0.9 L pot and the 1.3 L iteration.

    Thanks!

  46. Lagrandeimage July 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    Hello Andrew,

    Great tutorial, I set out to make one as soon as I saw your video and tutorial.

    I have hit upon a problem however. The holes are very hard to make, I just managed to make the first row. The paper hole puncher (which is an arts and craft model apparently just like yours) does not finish off the holes by itself. It leaves 1-4 of the circle connected to the can and I have to finish it off with pliers.

    The first row is about ok but impossible to make the second row, I just leave a circle trace on the can it does not punch through in any way.

    I am wondering if this could be due to the can I am using. I used a 3 ounces tuna can which is made of recycled steel. Are fancy feast cans more easy to punch? Is that why you use those instead of other cans?

    Thanks in advance,

    cheers

    • Andrew Skurka July 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm #

      The cat food cans are tin or aluminum, and this much easier to punch.

  47. Richard July 15, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

    Just finished using the stove. Works great and simple to build. I’m giving up on my canister stove and using only this stove.

    • Andrew Skurka July 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

      Yeah!

  48. Cole August 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Hey Andrew,

    Can you use the fancy feast stove year-round?

    How’s it’s cold weather performance?

    • Andrew Skurka August 20, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

      It works so long as the fuel can get hot, so you can’t put it on a cold surface (e.g. snow, ice) and expect it to work.

      That said, if you’re trying to melt snow for water, this is not an appropriate stove, as it’d take forever and consume a lot of fuel. A liquid or canister stove (with some caveats) would be a better choice.

  49. Dave January 10, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

    Andrew,

    On the stove in the top picture, there are only eight holes in the second (lower) row of holes vice 16, but in your instructions, there are a full 16. Is 8 an earlier design? Or just an alternative?

    • Andrew Skurka January 10, 2014 at 7:06 pm #

      The design is viable either way. With 8 holes, you get a slower burn and greater efficiency; with 16, hotter but more wasteful. Personally, I go with 8 nowadays. I have not tried less but I have definitely seen stoves of this sort without enough holes that can’t get a boil going.

  50. jim February 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm #

    My input as a firefighter – Depth of fuel will determine how long it burns, surface area size determines how much heat is released, as only the surface burns.

  51. Marie June 7, 2014 at 11:10 pm #

    I’ve been testing a few variations of these stoves at home (new to camping) and while they burn great, I am having trouble balancing cookware that has a single handle on it. It’s doable with a pot if filled with enough water, but I was going to fry some eggs on an 8″ aluminum frying pan, and the only way it balances is if you put it way off center of the stove, which I think is not good for heat distribution. The only thing I could sort of come up with was to take 3 more empty cans (I have cats and so the supply of cans is a non issue ;)) and place them on the outside edges of the pan, in a kind of rudimentary tripod. Wonder if there is a more elegant solution or if this is just not the sort of thing I should be using this stove for.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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