DIY: best, most simple Beer Can Stove – for free!

Build your own beer can stove in five minutes for 0$!

I can’t say that I’ve tried many stoves – I’m more of the practical type. Whenever I’ve found something that meets my requirements, I’ll usually stick to it. Meeting requirements ideally means: light, simple, little maintenance required with good performance and cheap.

Sounds like the notorious German “eierlegende Wollmilchsau” (lit. egg-laying wool and milk yielding pig) – a device that can do it all. But isn’t that actually what we are looking for?

Looking back, my “outdoor career” started similar to perhaps the ones of most of the older readers, with a Camping-Gaz Bleuet 206. For those of you who don’t know it, this was the standard by then: a simple gas stove with a cartridge that had to be pierced, available in every decent supermarket with a garden-/camping department. Advantage: those cartidges were available all over France (after all, it was a French product) and France was about how far my personal horizon stretched at that time.

Then one day, I started this cycling thing and this was when it showed it’s greatest weakness: this stupid stove simply won’t pack small. This was largely due to, once pierced, one could not remove the cartridge until it was finally empty. On top of this one always had the funny feeling of shuttling a bomb along – not so exciting, if you ask me.

So what I did is, I went to my local outdoor outfitter to learn about altenatives. Yes, that’s true, back then when we were not yet globally linked and could quickly google some info and test results, one in fact went to a shop to make up one’s mind.

Finally I chose an MSR Whisperlite international, a stove running on petrol/gasoline – something widely available wherever you are located, which I am pretty happy with and still use today – 16 years later!

The good thing with this kind of stoves is, that the fuel is readily available everywhere, although not always in decent quality, but that only means one has to clean it more often. Apart from that (I can only speak of mine) they work reliably, always and anywhere. Disadvantage: they smell and your fingers get dirty.

I’ve also tried a Trangia stove. I was not particularly keen to convert to using meths/alcohol in the first place, by then I was rather looking for a better solution to use the MSR with the Trangia system,basically in terms of windprotection and stability. While the Trangia system is truly great in itself, I rather see it used for Family ventures in Sweden than for hardcore use on high altitude or a Winter Trip to Siberia. Why?

  • the system is rather a bit too heavy and bulky for my taste
  • a meth stove must be primed before in cold weather and can be difficult to fire up
  • not efficient when it comes to melting snow
  • can be problem using it in muslim countries due to alcohol ostracism

Why then a beer can stove which is pretty much the same as a Trangia?

As long as you can live with the above mentioned limitations, won’t travel to muslim countries (where you perhaps won’t need a stove anyway due to the availability of street food and the legendary muslim hospitality) or travel the Road of Bones in winter, this is perhaps the best stove for short trips and for the rest of the world!

In the past, I occupied myself on and off with beer can stoves for quite a while now as I’d like to have one for short trips. Now, why bother with cooking on short trips anyway, one might say. True, but it’s nice to light a fire and get something warm into your belly – let alone the romantics of camping.

Over the time I have experimented a bit with simple designs, starting from a tuna can to the first generation of beer can stoves which had to be glued together with a special heat-proof metallic glue which one only could get from the US at that time. Despite the relatively low costs I haven’t fully fallen for it and rather considered this a hobby for people who enjoy tinkering with gadgetry than actually went out camping.

And this is why this stove is different. It’s completely free (given you collect the can from trash), you need nothing, all you need is a need a farily sharp knife, a pair of scissors, something to pinch a hole and 5 minutes work. Easy. Anybody can do it. Even with two left hands. Upcycled and environment-friendly. So what are you waiting for? This is your free camping stove, make one!

Oh, and before I forget it: please do me a favor and don’t try it out on the floor – get outside!

Have you build this stove or a similar one? What do you think of it? Share your experiences here.

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2 Responses to “DIY: best, most simple Beer Can Stove – for free!”

  1. Chris

    I built this stove, inspired by your post and wrote a small article about it:

    • andreas

      Great stuff! I build two so far. Hopefully I can take mine out for some trials next weekend.


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