Make your own: Fancy Feast Stove + Twig Stove Hybrid

By Matthew DePan

The DePan stove system, which can be used as an alcohol stove (left) or as a twig stove (right)

I want to thank Matthew DePan for sharing with me his creation, and then generously submitting this article and the photos. His hybrid alcohol/twig stove (“the DePan Stove,” perhaps?) is an elegantly simple solution to addressing the pitfalls of each stove. If you have feedback or questions about Matthew’s design, please leave them in the Comments section.


Since 2010 I have exclusively used the Fancy Feast Stove for my backcountry meals. I absolutely love this stove — except for the aluminum foil windscreen that Skurka recommends. While it was extremely lightweight, and effective in ensuring fast boil times, the flimsy construction always annoyed me.

Over this time period, I also acquired an affinity for small wood burning stoves, or “twig stoves,” as I call them, since they only burn small finger sized pieces of wood. There was an abundance of information to be found on these, and after much trial and error I finally settled a on a design that uses a standard 1-quart paint can. This stove model was:

  • Lightweight
  • Simple to use
  • Easy to make
  • Very functional

I also liked this stove because it did not require a flimsy windscreen.

Setup for wood stove

The Aha! Moment

My backpacking kit is ever evolving, and it eventually occurred to me I could easily combine these two stove designs — the Fancy Feast and the twig stove. My 600-ml mug nests perfectly inside my twig stove, making it a perfectly sized and shaped windscreen for an alcohol stove too. (I had been carrying it this way for months, yet had never made the mental leap.)

I thought this duel system would be very functional in the wet conditions that prevail where I typically hike. When my time or patience to start a twig fire is limited, I can use the alcohol stove; when conditions are dry and/or I have more time, I can make a twig fire — all with the same system! This idea immediately appealed to me for longer trips, when fuel loads can become heavy but when relying on fire-based cooking can be nerve-wracking.

I redesigned the twig stove to make it more appropriate for double use, and now this is what I carry with me when I require a hot meal in the woods!

Setup for alcohol stove

Key Specs and Advantages

Lightweight. The twig stove weighs about 3 oz and the entire cook system weighs 10.5 oz. Also, I can carry less alcohol fuel by utilizing abundant biomass instead.

Versatile. The system allows me to burn both denatured alcohol and wood fuel.

Inexpensive. A cat can costs less than a dollar at any grocery store. A 1-quart paint can costs about three dollars; it can be found at any hardware store in the paint department.

Better than an open fire. The twig stove is much easier, much more efficient, and much safer than an open fire, since the the flames are better contained and are directed directly to your pot.


Incompatible with larger pots. The 1-quart paint can will only accommodate 600-ml mugs or smaller; it will not even fit 600-ml “pots” that are short and wide. Unfortunately, these tall-and-narrow mugs are less efficient when used with the alcohol stove — boil time increases from 5-7 minutes to 7-9. However, a boil still requires only about an ounce of fuel.

Sub-optimal ventilation. To make the twig stove a functional windscreen for the alcohol stove, I had to reduce its structural ventilation, which in turn reduces the efficiency of the twig stove because it receives inadequate airflow. However, I can still achieve boiling water with the twig stove in about 8-10 minutes.

Make your own: Necessary Supplies

(Note: The supplies and assembly instructions apply to the twig stove only. For the Fancy Feast alcohol stove, go here.)

  • 1-quart paint can. $3 from any paint store or department
  • Can opener
  • Permanent marker
  • Tin snips, or any heavy-duty scissor
  • Power drill, or other tool that can make clean holes, not rough-edged
  • Heavy-duty sanpaper or metal file
  • Metal wire hanger or titanium skewer stakes

Step-by-step instructions

  1. With the power drill, drill four small holes near the top of the can, two on each side, into which you will slide skewers to support your mug while burning wood.
  2. Still with the power drill, drill a row of small holes along the bottom of the can, for airflow.
  3. Using the can opener, remove the lid from the can.
  4. Mark a slit onto the can. The slit should be just wide enough to accommodate your mug handles, and go down to just above the row of ventilation holes you drilled on the bottom. You will also feed wood into the stove through this slit.
  5. Using the tin snips, cut out the slit.
  6. Using the sand paper or file, sand down all the sharp edges.
  7. Using the tin snips, cut skewers out of the wire hanger and put a 90-degree bend at one end of each skewer. Alternatively, skip this step and use titanium skewer stakes.

Assembly images

Posted in on November 28, 2012


  1. Dan on November 28, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Interesting….I get that the stove is all-weather, nice for wood-burners on rainy days. But I think this is a case of building a horse by committee (you get a camel). Nice thing about a wood stove is you don’t have to carry a heavy fuel like denatured. So if you’re going to carry fuel anyway I don’t really see the point of having a wood burning stove, unless it’s purely for aesthetics. Sure, maybe you carry less fuel, but you’re still carrying.

    If you really must have an alcohol feature on your wood stove, why not make a little pop can stove to drop into a bush buddy ultra. You end up with a better wood stove and you won’t add that much weight perhaps 3 oz.

    • Kevin W on November 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm

      Dan, I think the biggest advantage to this stove is that the alcohol will be as a backup rather than as a primary, thus allowing you to carry a minimal amount or less than you would have if the alcohol was the primary. I LOVE it!

    • Andrew Skurka on November 28, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Given that Matthew had already arrived at the 1-qt can twig stove, adding the alcohol component was a mere .3-oz addition, and it gives him all-weather cooking options. It is a marginal amount of weight for a major convenience.

      Re the Bushbuddy suggestion, that is certainly a viable option, maybe even a mote functional option, but it will entail a $150 purchase price versus the $3 that Matthew spent on his twig stove.

      • Joe Jacaruso on November 30, 2012 at 6:46 am

        Andrew, sometime back I had the idea of dropping a pop can stove into a bush buddy style wood burner. The results were spectacular. The draft of the bush buddy design turns the alcohol stove into a blow torch.

        Fortunately the flame didn’t reach the ceiling and only burned for a short time.

    • John Foulk on December 8, 2012 at 9:07 am

      What brand of stove are you using in the pictures above? I am looking at the GSI Halulite Minimalist.

      • Andrew Skurka on December 8, 2012 at 9:11 am

        It is homemade.

  2. scott on November 29, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    This looks awesome! I just got my first alcohol stove after seeing your demo at amc event – wondering if denatured if flamable enought to ignite with a firesteel striker, if the event of lighter/matches failure?

    • Andrew Skurka on November 29, 2012 at 2:55 pm

      If you can drop a good spark into the can, the fuel will ignite. But I highly recommend matches or a lighter, with a preference for the former since you must tip the can some to use the lighter without signing your knuckles.

      • Rick on December 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

        I use the Fancy Feast stove exclusively now after I discovered the Suluk46 Ti windscreen. I wasn’t nuts about the Al DIY windscreen for durability reasons. I had to cut the screen down to 3″ tall (from 4) so it would fit inside my GSI Minimalist pot, but now I have what is for me the perfect solo system. Incidentally, what started this was that I’ve always just lit it with a mini-Bic through one of the vent holes and never singed my fingers.

        For those curious, my system is: FF stove; Suluk46 windscreen (cut down); GSI Minimalist pot with included lid, cozy and pot grabber; Vargo Ti folding spork. Total weight: 8.8 oz

        • Rick on December 2, 2012 at 10:36 am

          Forgot the other item in my 8.8 oz kit: a Sea to Summit X-mug that also fits in the pot. Allows me to have a cup of coffee or tea with my breakfast or dinner, rather than having them sequentially.

          • Mark Collins on November 11, 2022 at 5:50 pm

            Wondering if another additional level of holes for the skewers to be above a pop can stove or other type would interfere with the flow or burn when it’s a twig stove.( I need to research if Fancy Feast stoves are just as effective as pop can stoves/other design alcohol stoves, myog or purchased).

            Thanks for the cool design. Old thread, so no response expected.

    • Matthew DePan on November 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      You can easily light up the denatured alcohol with a firesteel rod. That’s the way I always do it. Thanks for the kind words! Cheers!

  3. Cal 20 Sailor on November 30, 2012 at 2:32 am

    You can also use the alcohol you carry as an accelerant to ignite the twigs, when needed.

    • Matthew DePan on November 30, 2012 at 10:44 am

      I’ve never tried this, but I’m sure you could if you needed too.

  4. Sam on November 30, 2012 at 5:17 am

    I like this too. A great low cost option to try wood burning. Well done!

    • Matthew DePan on November 30, 2012 at 10:45 am

      Thanks Sam! Cheers!

  5. Pete on November 30, 2012 at 6:19 am

    I have been using the titanium caldera cone for several years now exclusively to burn wood as fuel. To light the fire, I use petroleum jelly impregnated cotton balls as fire starter, and a spark striker to ignite it. I store the cotton balls in a plastic canister that a Granite Gear air-sack cam in when purchased. All you do, is pull a bit of cotton out and wad it on the grate – insert spark. Works like a charm every time. The clear screw together canister the stove comes in is perfect to contain the small mess (few flakes of ash). Mini bics work quite well too.

    • Matthew DePan on November 30, 2012 at 10:49 am

      Pete, I have also used the cotton balls to get my fire going and they are fantastic! Recently I have started using jute twine. It doesn’t burn as long as the petroleum cotton balls, but it is much easier to carry larger quantities of it if I’m out on a longer trip, and it catches a spark just as quick. Double bonus on the jute twine is I got a 200 foot roll of it for $3! I can’t even begin to think how many fires that is going to start. Cheers!

  6. Brian on November 30, 2012 at 6:54 am

    Is that the paint can lid shown being used as a pot lid? I presume that’s so that the whole system stacks nicely in your pack. Does your pot rattle inside the paint can outer when stored that way?

    Weight delta listed is 10.5 oz – 3 0z = 7.5 oz. Does that include the lid, or just the modified paint can?

    The eyebolt & nut combination used for a lid handle is surely not a terribly lightweight way to add a handle — ?

    When you pack this combo, do you not ever get soot coming from out of the wide open slot and thus into your pack? The slot itself is somewhat of a sharp edge; do you perhaps wrap the whole thing in something to protect against those sharp edges and soot?? If so, do you list that also in the 7.5 oz weight delta?

    To be clear, I mean no criticism with these questions, just want to be really clear on all of the details. Thanks for sharing! In terms of “also” having to carry alcohol, I’ll add another option to consider there — bring Everclear rather than denatured. That way if you end up building little fires to cook each night, you can drink up the backup fuel the last night or two (about a 7-to-1 ratio of water to alcohol, add crystal light or similar to taste).

    • Matthew DePan on November 30, 2012 at 10:59 am

      Brian, excellent questions on this…

      First, that is the lid from the paint can I use as a pot lid. It’s not a snug fit on the mug so it can rattle at times. What I like about that is that when my water starts to boil the lid rattles on the mug to let me know it’s done. Also, the mug nests in the can perfectly so it does not rattle at all while it is stored. As for the eye bolt and nut, you’re right, there are definitely lighter options you could use, but I had them in the house already so I figured why not.

      As for the weight listed, the 10.5 oz includes other items not shown in the pictures. Sorry for this confusion. Also included in that weight are my firestriker, an MSR titan pot grabber, a bandana to wrap around the stove, and a ultra sil stuff sack to keep it all in. You’re right that if I just threw the stove in my pack as you see it, I would get a bunch of soot everywhere, and the metal edges would shred all my other gear in the pack. So for packing up the kit, the cat stove, pot grabber and any tinder I have go in the mug with the lid on top. Then the mug goes in the stove with the skewers. That gets wrapped up with a bandana, then put into the stuff sack. This keeps everything nicely organized in my pack without risk of damage to any other gear, and minimal to no noticeable noise.

      Thanks for all the questions and comments. Cheers!

  7. John on November 30, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Thanks for the great idea, guys, I just realized a use for the Pirouette cookie jar I was just about to throw in the recycle bin. I think its dimensions are abou perfect for this.

    One question re: the skewers, did you run them parralel, thus creating a flat surface for the mug? Or criss-cross, and, if so, how did that work, plane-wise, since I would assume one would be beneath the other and thus present a non-flat support surface?


    • Matthew DePan on November 30, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      I ran the skewers parallel to each other. As you mentioned, when I tried to criss-cross them it created an uneven plane which was much less stable for the mug. Cheers!

    • John on March 26, 2013 at 7:08 pm

      Just a followup comment – the Pirouette cookie can was too small for my 700ml Stoic Ti kettle, but I found a slightly larger can of green beans that fits perfectly. Haven’t fully tested it out yet, but so far so good. Fyi in case anyone else has a mug-style, slightly larger 700ml pot.

      • Matthew DePan on March 28, 2013 at 7:46 pm

        Sounds good. Hope it works out for you!

  8. Jeremy on November 30, 2012 at 10:04 pm

    This is awesome! I absolutely love it! I am going to get my paint can first thing in the morning. But, I have three questions:

    1. Why do you cut the slit all the way down to the ventilation holes? Wouldn’t the can be more efficient as an alcohol stove windscreen if the slit came down to just below the pot handles?

    2. Would the stove be more efficient when burning wood if the pot was lowered down into the can a bit more? It would heat faster if it was closer to the fire, right?

    3. Does Heet ever go bad? I’m just thinking that by burning wood mostly I will be using a lot less of the Heet.

    Thanks for posting your design!

    • Matthew DePan on December 1, 2012 at 5:58 am


      Thanks for your questions. This stove was an experiment that surprisingly turned out to actually work! I cut the slit that long to give me as large an opening to feed wood as possible, while hopefully not hurting the stove efficiency while burning alcohol. This seemed to work for me as my efficiency with the alcohol was not hindered at all compared to other windscreens I tried with this mug type, and I can still feed the fire with small twigs.

      I can’t really speak to Heet’s shelf life as I have never used it before. I always use denatured alcohol as a liquid fuel. I’m just about ready to buy a new can of that after about two years or so. What I have left still seems to work fine.

      I appreciate the kind words. Hope this stove serves you well! Cheers!

  9. Pat C on December 1, 2012 at 8:39 am

    One could also use your stove design as a trifuel stove. perhaps putting another set of pot supports near the bottom to support the pot for Esbit fuel also. I like your idea and, since winter will soon be here, I am going to add this project to my “winter project to stay sane” list.

    • Matthew DePan on December 1, 2012 at 4:11 pm


      You’re absolutely right. You can pretty much put anything in here as long as it burns. Haha. Glad to see it’s on your project list. Have fun! Cheers!

  10. Brad on December 9, 2012 at 10:35 am

    Hello, I’m thinking of using your design out on the ice when my boys and I go ice fishing. Have you tried this design with the gallon-sized paint cans for wood burning only?

    Also, it seems you’re just asking for a sliced hand with that long slit cut out. Have you run into any issues with this? I was thinking of cutting the slit a bit more narrow and then making an inward fold with about an 1/8″ of material to alleviate the sharp edge. Do you think this would work?

    Last question is about the rigidity — how sturdy is this thing after the slit is cut out?

    • Matthew DePan on December 11, 2012 at 10:32 pm

      Thanks for the questions. I did purchase a one gallon can for that exact purpose, but haven’t gotten around to building it yet. I’m sure it would work just fine for larger cooking though.

      No I have not run into any problems with cutting my self with this stove. Yes the edges are a bit sharper than some people may like, but as I said, I have never had a problem with it. I’m not positive that your folding idea would work, only because it is already such a tight fit with the mug, folding over those edges would make it quite a bit tighter. But hey, for only $3, why not give it a shot?

      Even with that slit cut all the way to the top, the stove is still strong enough to easily support my full mug while it is cooking, and I have never had a problem with it being bent while stowed in my pack. Again, thanks for the questions, and good luck with yours! Cheers!

  11. Jeremy on December 11, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Okay, I have kind of a nitpicky question: Do you remember what size drill bit you used to make the holes in your twig stove? Thanks!

    • Matthew DePan on December 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

      I’m pretty sure I used a 1/4″ drill bit for the bottom holes, and a slightly smaller one for the top holes.

  12. andrew on December 13, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Hey, Great stove idea. I’m making one now. I have a few questions though. Is denatured alcohol the same gelled fuel used in chafing heaters? And, about how deep is 1 ounce of fuel in relation to the cat food can. 1/4″, 1/2″?

    • Andrew Skurka on December 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm

      No, different fuel. It is not a Sterno stove. You can find it in the paint department at a hardware store. Also can use yellow HEET.

      Sounds like you need a postal scale. Worthwhile investment. In meantime, use small cup provided with cough syrup; can pick up empties for cheap at pharmacy.

      1oz is probably about .75 in deep.

      • andrew on December 14, 2012 at 1:49 pm

        Thank You.

        • andrew on December 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

          Andrew, Here in Ontario, Canada it’s a hassle to find denatured alcohol, however, methyl hydrate has been mentioned to me as a substitute. Yes, No?

          • Sean on February 18, 2013 at 9:49 pm

            In Canada, you can buy denatured alcohol in 4l jugs at Canadian Tire, sold as Bio Flame brand fireplace fuel. Roughly $20

  13. BicycleHobo on December 17, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Wow…I love the fact that the side is cut to accomodate the handles. Simple solution to a problem that has been vexing me. It actually made me chuckle a bit as compared with walking around different grocery/hardware stores and eyeballing cans…that didn’t come out right.

    I have a snow peak titanium french press that will fit a smaller diameter can, but have been holding off using it because when sitting above a can the profile is too high [It’s gonna tip!!!].

    I have been going back and forth with using it with different hobo stoves and that one simple cut really solves a lot of problems in my set up. Reduces the overall profile, actually lightens the load up a bit, and is 100% replaceable after it gets beat up.


    • Matthew DePan on December 22, 2012 at 8:45 am

      Thanks for the kind words. Glad to hear this gave you some ideas for your own set up. Cheers!

  14. andrew on December 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I found HEET. Thanks

  15. Liam on December 20, 2012 at 7:28 am

    Hey there,

    What type of mug do you use? Do most 600ml mugs have the correct diameter to fit inside the paint can? Does it matter if the mug or pot is completely flush with the can? Does this disrupt the air flow and make it less fuel efficient?

    Great idea. Nice to see an alternative to the expensive camping gear market.

    • Matthew DePan on December 22, 2012 at 8:48 am

      Hey Liam,
      In the set up shown I am using a Snow Peak 600mL mug. I have also used the classic GSI glacier cup with this stove with good results as the diameters are nearly identical. With the handles folded down the mug does sit pretty flush with the inside of the stove, however when the handles are sticking out of the slit in the stove that opens up enough room for good airflow and efficiency. Thanks for the comments.

      • John on March 27, 2013 at 7:20 am

        Matthew, I never got the cat stove to work well (boil under 10 min’s) with a small diameter mug like the 600ml or GSI glacier cup and had to go to a v8 DIY stove (more work). Does the paint can somehow redirect heat and make the cat stove somehow work better w/ your 600ml pot?

        • Andrew Skurka on March 27, 2013 at 9:50 am

          Were you using a wind screen formerly? If not, try this one:

          Even with a good windscreen, a tall-and-wide 600ml pot is still going to hinder the system’s efficiency — simply, too much heat escapes up the sides and misses the pot’s bottom entirely. I strongly recommend a short-and-wide pot with this type of stove.

          • John on April 5, 2013 at 11:30 am

            Sorry for the late reply. I tried w/ and w/out a windscreen similar to yours and appeared to lose too much heat up the sides of the pot, as you describe. Curious if this twig/hybrid stove might concentrate more of it back to the pot, as Matthew mentions in his response. Really hoping to find a ‘good-enough’ medium using a cat stove + 700ml pot, knowing it’s not ideal. I’ll test this on my Smoky’s trip next weekend and will advise. Thx

        • Matthew DePan on March 28, 2013 at 7:44 pm


          Using some type of windscreen does make a big difference in getting the water to boil with the 600 mL mug. In this set up, the paint can does act as a windscreen for me, which is how I was able to get the boil times mentioned in the article. As Andrew said, a shorter/wider pot with a windscreen would deliver faster/ more efficient boil times with the cat stove. Thanks for checking it out and your comments! Cheers!

          • John on April 5, 2013 at 11:37 am

            Yeah, I’m hoping to get the cat stove + narrow 700ml combo to work decently, knowing it’s not the most efficient pot for that (my wife can confirm my stubbornness). As I just mentioned in reply to Andrew above, hopefully I’ll get to test it out in the Smoky’s next wk, I’ll advise as to the results. Thanks, again!

          • John on April 18, 2013 at 9:36 am

            Update: Worked great! The bean can reflected and concentrated the heat from my DIY V8 stove onto my slim 700ml ti pot and I saw boil times around 7min (2 cups), I didn’t take a ‘scientific’ measurement w/ my stopwatch, sorry. One caveat: I did not test the wood-burning aspect (which is kind of the point if I’m going to bother this heavy of a ‘windscreen’) but that’s still on my radar. I’m assuming it’ll work great, the alcohol efficiency w/ my type of stove and pot is what I focused on. Thanks, again!

          • John on April 18, 2013 at 9:46 am

            …forgot to mention I used cold mountain creek water, air temps were btwn 40-50deg.F w/ a constant ~5mph breeze. I’m sure boil times would come down in a warmer/milder environment.

      • Martin on September 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        Hello there,

        I was hoping to purchase the GSI glacier cup, but found two different sizes (18 and 24 oz) and am not sure which will will actually fit into the paint can.

        What did you use yourself?

        Thanks for your reply.

  16. Bigfoot15 on December 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I have been using a twig stove, bush cooker LTII by 4 Dog because I like the freedom and the ambiance of a wood fire. Yes there is mess you have to learn to work around, but for us fire lovers it is worth the trouble.

    With wood stoves you can heat extra water for hot water bottles in your sleeping bag on cold nights, melt snow, warm hands and dry socks.
    I got the whole set which included a burner cup for alcohol that sets down into the stove much like you are doing. It weighs .75 ounce and only consumes 1/2 oz alcohol for a 2 cup boil when used in the stove and there is no priming burn.

    I like the dual fuel option because I only carry a couple ounces of fuel for a 5 day trip for the times I need to cook in under the shelter, for wet wood days, lazy days, and also to make quicker wood burn starts with a gram or two alcohol. I use the top burn method and feel it gives a longer less hassle burn. This stove is Titanium and wieghs 3.4 oz and there are several others out there also.

    I like the way Mathew has the pot setting down into the stove because I too get annoyed with the windscreen. You have set me to thinking of a windscreen mod to eliminate the windscreen in my setup. Thanks for great ideas. For a good multiuse pot holder, try the yellow cotton gloves from the hardware store, cheap, don’t melt, keeps hands clean with the wood burner,and can be used as your light weight gloves.

    • Matthew DePan on December 22, 2012 at 8:55 am

      The Bushcooker looks like a neat stove. Very similar idea to what I have. Great points on being able to burn multiple fuel types depending on the situation of the day (wet wood, forced into your tent, LAZY haha). That is what I was trying to show people makes this type of stove so special to me. Glad to see this spawned some ideas for you as well. Thanks for the comments. Cheers!

  17. Trevor on December 31, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I wonder about cutting out the bottom of the can and lifting it on rigged stilt system while in wood burning mode to improve airflow.

    • Matthew DePan on January 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

      This would definitely increase airflow in wood mode. However, it would subject your fire to possible wet or cold ground conditions which could hinder the fire itself. This will also possibly increase the chances of the fire becoming uncontrollable in dry conditions. I like keeping that bottom in there personally because it takes care of these problems for me, as well as acting as a ground reflector for the stove to diminish heat loss to the ground. Also, since the flames never touch the ground, this stove leaves a much smaller footprint than a small twig ground fire would. Cheers!

  18. Brayden on January 9, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Love the setup! Where might a guy be able to buy a cup and lid the same size you used in your life pics

    • Matthew DePan on January 9, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Thanks for the kind words! The mug is a 600mL snow peak mug. They can be found lots of different websites. Some folks do make lids for these. I would just do a quick google search for it, and that should help you out. Cheers!

  19. prof on January 17, 2013 at 2:14 am

    Thanks for your article. I have made a twig one litre stove using a paint tin. Turned the tin upside down, and used the lid as the base. I folded over a 6mm width on both sides of the vertical cuts, so i don.t have a sharp edge. The 2 cups of water boiled very quick, and the fire was easy to keep going. I am using a Evernew 700ml titanium pasta pot. A tuna tin just a bit smaller than the cat food tin is my alternate alcohol stove, and i used a paper hole punch to make a double row of burner holes. . I will be doing some testing to see how many wood stove burns the stove is good for. Cheers

    • Matthew DePan on February 6, 2013 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks for the comments. I hope it serves you well. Cheers!

  20. Richard on January 28, 2013 at 9:27 am

    I used this set up last week on the AT…worked like a charm both 1 used wood day 2 it was rainy used alchol… Great lil stove!!! Love iy

    • Matthew DePan on February 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Glad to hear this worked for you. Cheers!

  21. A.J.(Fred) A SEASONED SCOUTER on February 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm


    • Matthew DePan on February 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm

      Thanks for checking it out. I think this would be a great activity for kids that like to get outdoors. Cheers!

  22. Katy on March 6, 2013 at 6:45 pm


    This is such an awesome plan. Saving me from buying a crazy expensive twig stove.

    You mentioned it’s incompatible with larger stoves. I’m wondering why? What if you just set the larger pot on top instead of inside on the skewers? The flames wouldn’t be hitting the whole bottom of the pot, but the heat should distribute, right?

    • Matthew DePan on March 7, 2013 at 7:21 am

      Hi Katy,

      Thanks for your comments and I am glad you like the stove!

      As it is now, this stove is not “super” compatible with larger pots. It almost surely would not work to just put a larger pot on top if you were planning on using the alcohol stove. As you pointed out, it may work while burning wood in the stove, however I think there may be a significant loss in the efficiency of the stove (though to be honest I have not really tested this out yet).

      The other part to this being with a larger pot the whole system would not stow in your pack as nicely as it does now. You would have two large bulky items in your pack now instead of just the one. Not necessarily a deal breaker however.

      I do plan on playing with this some more this spring. I have an idea to try and make this stove work with larger pots while burning wood. If it works out maybe Andrew could post an update to this so everyone could see. If you have your own ideas for this as well feel free to experiment yourself!


  23. Len on March 9, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Appreciate all the useful info. I’m very interested in your response to Katy’s question. To wit,
    how to modify the stove to accommodate a larger pot(one that overlaps the side of the stove.)
    Perhaps creating holes an inch below the top at 12, 9 and 3, opposite the handle cutout?

    • Matthew DePan on March 11, 2013 at 9:26 am


      Interesting idea. I may give this one a try as well. Thanks for sharing.


  24. Dennis A. Cooley on April 4, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I like it!! I’ll make one…..

    • Matthew DePan on April 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm

      Thanks Dennis! Have fun!

  25. Cory Kiser on April 11, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I have a GSI Outdoors Halulite Minimalist Set; I am assuming i probably would want to refrain from using the wood option stove with that particular item. ..Or any of the Jetboil items with the neoprene material on the outside, right?

    • Matthew DePan on April 12, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      It should be fine for you to use those pots as long as you slip the neoprene cover off of it beforehand. Then slip it back on when you take it off the stove to keep your stuff warmer longer. Those Halulites are pretty cool pots! Cheers!

  26. Joe L. on May 2, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    If you resolve how to heat a wider pot, consider choosing one that will allow the paint can to nest inside of the pot. Just thinking outside the can.

    To transport the stove in the pot, either clean the pot before each use or two covers will be needed: One for the outside of the stove, inside the pot, and one for the outside of the pot and stove.

  27. Jordan on May 25, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Awesome pot design. Is there any reason you couldn’t just put a 1.5 liter pot on top of the twig stove? I am married and am typically cooking for two, so it’s nice to use a bigger pot. Thanks for the awesome post!

    • Jordan on May 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm

      Oops. Just realized that Katy already asked this question. Thanks!

  28. Sam Larson on August 1, 2013 at 7:13 am

    Innovative, yet simple. I love that combination! I’m definitely making one of these!

    • Matthew DePan on August 11, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks Sam! Enjoy!

  29. Donna Herring on April 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    I just made both the paint can twig burner & the fancy feast alcohol burner. My husband had been talking about a friends “twig burning stove” for months. He was thrilled when I gave him one made by hand! My 15 year old son is impressed with Mom’s “mad skills” too! Thanks so much…you save me a bundle!

    • Matthew DePan on May 31, 2014 at 10:51 am

      Thanks Donna. Glad to hear the stove was a hit with the family. Enjoy!

  30. Jake Wells on June 25, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    Great do-it-yourself stove idea: very clever, efficient, and frugal.

    You could also use ezbits which would make your stove 3-way versatile: alcohol, ezbits, or wood. That would require drilling holes in the paint can for stakes to be set at a lower height than wood-burning mode and you’d probably want a graham cracker ezbit holder.

    I recently bought Trail Designs Sidewinder Ti-Tri which is a Caldera system that basically accomplishes what your stove does, it’s just much more expensive. It has the advantage of fitting inside my pot; however, your stove is lighter and seems like a great low-cost alternative! I’m wondering if the bottom of the paint can eventually gets destroyed or if it can handle the heat long-term? I wonder if a bigger paint can design (for bigger pots) would still be light enough and not be overly cumbersome to carry? Does it get very dirty, do you carry it loose in your bag or do you have a sack for it? Do you do anything to dull the cut edges so they don’t cut you?

    I have a 1.3 liter evernew titanium pot which is pretty fat and short. I’m wondering if it would make sense to find a larger paint can and try to replicate your design? I’m thinking it might be too bulky/awkward to pack neatly but perhaps I could cut the can to around the same height as my pot.

    • Matthew DePan on December 27, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      Hey Jake,
      Thanks for the questions. You could totally use an ezbit in here, but as you noted it would require a bit of modification. I have wanted to make a larger version of this for use with different pots and so far I’ve found everything to be too bulky/cumbersome at this point. The search continues! The bottom of the can seems to be hanging in there without any fire damage, and yes this stove does get VERY dirty. I keep it in a small stuff sack inside my pack with the rest of my kitchen kit to protect my other gear from soot. I did not use anything to dull out the edges on this stove. I don’t find them to be super sharp and thus risky to my hands, and the stuff sack keeps it from shredding any of my other gear while in my pack. Cheers!

  31. Rachael on August 7, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    What kind of mug do you use?

    • Matthew DePan on December 27, 2014 at 1:27 pm

      Hey Rachael. The mug is a 600mL Snow peak.

  32. Evan Ravitz on September 26, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I think something’s missing here: what is the stove sitting on in alcohol mode? Are there 4 lower holes for the stakes in alcohol mode?

    • Matthew DePan on December 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

      Hey Evan,
      When using this system to burn alcohol I simply put the fancy feast stove on the bottom of the can and the mug sits directly on top of the fancy feast stove. The cat stove doubles as the pot support in this regard and the paint can acts as a windscreen. Cheers!

  33. Riccardo on October 13, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I don’t know if you tried this already, but to increase its efficiency as a twig burner you could remove the bottom of the can and put a -sort of- thick steel mesh or some kind of support structure made with steel rods, installed above the bottom hole line, in order to increase air flow. It could be a bit more labour intensive to make but it might turn out a fun project and it might even work better than it already does.

  34. Cody Langellier on October 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I know this is an old post, but I had to drop a comment. I built one of these about a year ago and it has been my go-to stove when solo or duo hiking. I love the flexibilty to use different fuels. It has saved my butt on at least one occasion when I spilled my water after boiling and had used the last of my alcohol. Thanks for the simple yet elegant design Matt!

    • Matt DePan on December 2, 2015 at 9:09 pm

      Thanks Cody! Glad to hear this has worked out for you!

  35. Jason on August 25, 2016 at 2:37 pm

    Anyone ever used one of these from US Plastics, 16 oz. Bettix Bottle with 1/2 & 1 oz. Dispensing, for the fuel. Seems like a good idea. Thoughts?

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