Throughout my wilderness experience I have had the pleasure of making and using several different types of stoves. Stoves come in handy for a variety of reasons and there are several types of multi fuel stoves I have used during fire restrictions here in Arizona. Other types that are fueled by wood are a little iffy for this. The end result is usually for the same purpose that is to cook, heat, and boil water. I use them so the fire will be contained safely and have little risk of the wind blowing embers into the dry grass. I have cooked several trail meals on these types of stoves as well as cups of warm beverages. I find them to be indispensable items especially if one’s goal is to leave no trace. They are all lightweight and can be packed in and out with ease.
One of my favorite stoves was made from an old chicken tin. This stove is carried with me in the field. It packs so nicely in my Condor 10×4 and nests with my Guyot bottle and GSI cup. This is my go to stove for fire restrictions. The southwest being a huge tinder box, this is a major plus.
This stove has gone through several design changes throughout the years that I have been using it. It started as just a simple multi fuel stove that the pot would sit on top of. It ended up with a grate that would support my GSI cup while I was heating water to make a cup of coffee while doing basic survival classes. The students that have seen and used this stove really liked the functionality and pack ability of the stove.
This particular stove is easy to make and only requires a few tools. I started with a canned chicken tin and drilled some holes around the outside about ½ to 11/16 of inch from the bottom and drill them out with a 3/8 drill bit. Don’t forget to drill a pilot hole first; this can be a ¼ inch to start out with. From there I will drill four 1/8 inch holes just below the rim. These should be evenly spaced and straight across from each other. This will accept the stand or grate to support your cup. For this I strongly suggest using a stainless steel rod. The reason is I have experimented using coat hangers and they will bend when heated. That’s not a good thing when you are trying to boil up some soup or hot beverage.
Why drill the holes? There is no seam on the bottom of this can. I preferred to use this type of can because I will use liquid fuels in it from time to time. With a seam at the bottom the fuel will leak out over time. Also if using a church key to make this stove there is no lip for it to grab and make the holes. Making the holes at that level will also make the stove less versatile in my opinion, causing the fuel to leak out when using liquid fuels. Click on the photo to enlarge the photo of the stove while nesting. You will see that this can is not made like other tins such as tuna.
These are photos of the finished stove. This will be able to accept a wide range of fuels. I have successfully used this cooker with an alcohol burner, gel fuel, Trioxane tablets, and Esbit fuel. I have also used the vent holes to feed in small branches and twigs while burning wood for fuel. One thing I thought was really cool was the burn pattern I get while this stove is being used. The air vents draw air in over the flames and seem to focus the flame in the middle of the container I am cooking in. While in use there is also a more efficient burn of material. This means I use more of the fuel for heating and there is less waste of resources.
So far when using this stove I am finding it to very efficient. The cup fits perfectly on the grate with plenty of airflow to keep the fuel inside burning. I do however find that different fuels give me a different boil time and results. So far, gel fuel is the best and if I am using Esbit I find I have to add two tablets. Personally I do not see this as an issue considering the wide variety of fuels I can use. The unit also cleans up nicely. After using any kind of fuel I can simply scrape it out using a stick. This will prevent any kind of residue from sticking to my pack. To put it away once it is cooled I simply remove the grate and place the stove on the bottom of my cup. The grate slides neatly inside next to my stainless steel bottle. In the past I have used several different types of tins for stoves. So far I am finding this chicken tin to work the best giving me plenty of room for whatever fuel I may have on hand. This is also one of the only cans I have found that will nest properly with the cup.
Another plus to this particular stove is that I do not need a windscreen. I can use this stove in the wind and rain without any real issue. If the wind is too strong, I can simply place a large stone between the wind and the stove or I can simply dig a small pit. This will recess the stove below ground level adding an element of protection from strong wind gusts. Since I started using this stove a few years ago I am reluctant to use any others, it works that well for me. I find it ideal for those times when I can not have a fire while in the field and still keep a very lightweight kit.
Above is a photo of the stove being used to heat up a cup of coffee while camping. The stove will come along with me no matter what I am doing in the field. It makes it so easy to be able to stop and brew up some coffee, tea, or cook up a quick lunch while on the move.