My First Alcohol Stove

Lately, Tinny has been reminiscing about some of his past alcohol stove designs over at Minibulldesigns so it made me think about how I got started in DIY backpacking gear. I certainly wouldn't dare compare myself to Tinny's innovation or productivity, but it made me dig the first stove I ever made out of the closet and light it up. When I did, it reminded me of how I got interested in making my own gear in the first place and why it continues to fascinate me.

Here's the first alcohol stove I ever made. It was a basic Pepsi-can style with taped sides and JB weld (Tinny would probably have my head for it but as you can see, Ganesha is in the background to guard my first endeavor):It was crude and amateurish, but the flame pattern was pretty good (always blue) and it actually worked very well:

At the time, I remember how excited I was that I made something with my own hands that could actually be useful backpacking. At first, I didn't think I could do it, but when I lit it up for the first time and it didn't explode, the simple pride I felt gave me the confidence to try other projects. Since then, I've sewed my own stuff sacks, built countless other stove designs, made my own titanium trowel, designed my own water-filtration system, made my own cook pots, and a raft of other DIY gear. I guess I owe a lot to that first try, because if it hadn't worked out, I probably would have given up and I probably wouldn't even be writing in this blog today. I guess you never know how a simple attempt and it's results can change your life.

What about you? What was your impetus for your love of gear or DIY projects?
My First Alcohol Stove My First Alcohol Stove Reviewed by Jason Klass on December 11, 2008 Rating: 5


Matt said...

How interesting, my first attempt at DIY gear was the very same stove. I still break mine out from time to time to cook on my "grease pot". It brings back some cool memories of trips gone by. And it also gave me the piece of mind that DIY gear can work and and quite well. Matt

Hoz said...

My first homemade gear was a Hobo Stove made from a can, cardboard and melted wax. I was probably 10 yrs old and Mom was pretty ticked off that all the birthday candles and disappeared. I heated cans of soup over that stove in the backyard, and dreamt of faraway places...

Being a frugalite I have always made outdoor gear from a climbing rucksack, hi top gaiters, toque and beret, mittens, fleece jacket, to wood fired stoves, woodstrip canoes and a decked sailing canoe of my own design.(Made the sails too!)

When I discovered alky stoves about 10 years ago my first was the Robinson cat stove and I used that for a couple years until it started to rust out. From then on it's been aluminum cans.

I have never bought an alky stove and really can't see why anyone would. A discarded pepsi can, and a pocket knife is all it takes to make a perfectly serviceable water boiler.

Jason Klass said...

All good points and a great story about you first hobo stove!

Mungo said...

Okay Jason, you have totally inspired me to build an alcohol stove... your tutorial makes it seem so simple and fundamental.

When I build it I will post some pictures.

Great post!


Jason Klass said...

Cool Mungo, go for it! Please post pictures on your blog and let us know when they're up!

Widerstand said...

Well my first attempt at DIY gear was also a beer can stove and I still use it sometimes to this day since I am cheap and it just works so will for train-cooking.

Keep up the good posts.

Anonymous said...

Very Cool, I am going to try to make one tomorrow, thanks for the idea!

Anonymous said...

Fun! I made my first alcohol stove over the summer (or maybe it was two summers ago) from a couple Bud cans and some fiberglass insulation from the attic. It didn't really work well. I just started experimenting again and made a pressure jet. I wrote about it over on my blog

Making your own gear and using it is way better than buying it. Somehow you don't get the same amount of satisfaction out of buying vs. a bit of enginuity, effort, and time.

Unknown said...

Came across this stove while surfing

In case you want to talk with some others (or just read the descriptions they have linked:

We call dem Dosenkocher (Dose - can, kocher - stove).

Jason Klass said...

Cool, thanks for the link!

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