Improved Soda Can Stove





The traditional stove takes a long time to heat up before it builds pressure to make a nice burner ring. The capillary version of the stove heats up and produces a ring of flames within seconds. In the picture the one on the left is a regular one and the one on the right is the improved design, this was after a few seconds you can see the one on the right gets to operating pressure much quicker..

With only a few slight modifications it makes the soda can stove works much better.

Also I experimented with the size of the burner holes:

  • 1/16 holes makes a larger burner but reduces burn time
  • 1/32 holes makes a slightly smaller burner but has higher pressure


Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • Utility knife with a sharp blade
  • Utility knife blades (ones with a hook are ideal but not necessary)
  • Wood Blocks cut to different heights
  • Metal Tape
  • Old Scissors
  • Sharpie marker
  • Triangle file or something with a pointed edge
  • 2 pop/soda cans
  • Denatured alcohol or methyl hydrate
  • Drill and 1/32 or 1/16 drill bit or thumb tack

Step 2: Make a Cutter

Making these simple cutters will simplify the cutting of the cans. You can also just use scissors but if you are making a few stoves than this is much faster and easier.

All they are is blocks of wood cut to be the correct height of each part of the soda can stove and a utility knife blade screwed to the top.

The heights are:

  • Top and bottom 3/4"
  • Inside Wall 1 1/2"
  • Spacer 1 1/4"

Step 3: Cut Out the Parts

Inside Wall of Stove:

Cut off the top rim of one can so it is open at the top using the the 1 1/2" and 1 1/4" blocks of wood so you have a 1/4" difference, see the pic. Rotate and score the can with the blade, do this several times to get a nice deep score, you don't have to cut all the way through. You can push around where the score was made and the top will separate from the can.

Using the 1 1/2" block of wood score around the can with the open face down. Again push around the score mark to separate.

Top of Stove:

Using a sharp utility knife, cut the concave bottom out of the second can. This is done by rotating and scoring with the blade at the same time, see the pic and video for exactly how to do it. You will need to score the aluminum a few times around and you should be able to push the bottom into the can. Don't force it or you may cut yourself or ruin the can.

Now using the 3/4" block of wood, score the can all the way around, keep scoring until it almost cuts through the can. You can then just push around where the can was scored and it will separate.

Bottom of Stove:

Using the 3/4" block of wood, score the first can around the bottom. Again push to separate.

Step 4: Inside Capillary Wall

The inside wall needs to have creases added so it will fit inside the other parts and so the alcohol can wick up the stove. Using the edge of a file, put creases all the way around, first add one on each side then add creases between each of the first creases continue until you have 16 creases. Using an old pair of scissors, cut 1/4" cuts at the bottom of the creases and then bend them inward. It should fit nicely into the top and bottom of the other parts.

Step 5: Burner Holes

Drill some holes with a 1/32 or 1/16 drill bit in the top ring of the stove. The size of the holes will dictate how large the flames are. Also you can poke holes with a large needle or thumbtack if you don't have a drill.

Step 6: Assembly of the Stove

There are now three parts, a top ring, a bottom and an inside creased wall. Put the inside wall into the bottom then put the top ring on and squeeze the stove together, it should have a tight fit.

Using some metal tape, cut a thin piece that will wrap around the circumference of the can and tape the two hales together, then using a wider piece put that over the thin strip to ensure a leak free seal. The stove is complete!

Step 7: Finished and Test Burn

Using some denatured alcohol or methyl hydrate as your fuel source pour around 20ml into the middle of the stove. Using a long bbq lighter light the inside of the stove. Be careful not to spill any alcohol as it burns with a clear flame in daylight.

Step 8: Video

Here is a video of a comparison of the two versions of the stoves and building process.

Reference Material:

Original Model:

tetkoba's Alcohol Stove Addict channel:



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17 Discussions


Question 8 months ago on Step 2

The instructions for the inner wall in step 2 - I do not understand. Can you clarify the section quoted below?

"Cut off the top rim of one can so it is open at the top using the the 1 1/2" and 1 1/4" blocks of wood so you have a 1/4" difference, see the pic.'


Tip 1 year ago on Step 5

If you don't have a drill, you can use a nail and a hammer to punch holes into the can but it may not be as precise as a drill


Question 1 year ago on Step 7

can you burn white gas in it and will it work better/worse


1 year ago

Instead of cutting the top of the can with a utility knife, use a can opener on the top of the can! It is a lot faster and cleaner. Great instructable btw :)


2 years ago

Very cool but please note that in the list of items needed there's nothing about a drill being needed. It's not until the pictures of a drill show up that it's explained that a drill is needed. I was quite excited about trying to make this later today in anticipation of a storm coming in but I don't have a drill. :(

1 reply

Reply 2 years ago

Sorry about that, I will note that, also you can still make it all you need is a thumb tack to push and make the holes. :) Just take your time and be careful when you push as you may need to twist back and forth while pushing, don't want to drive the tack into your hand or fingers.


2 years ago

Very cool indeed! Don't know if I shall ever make one of these, as I am getting too old for rough camping any more. My idea of camping now is to drive our old Class A motor home to the RV Park, hook up the electric, sewer and water, then put out the awning and sit outdoors enjoying the moment. However I sure could have used one of these back when I was a soldier in the 70's

el tuercas

3 years ago

It's great!! Thanks a lot!!


3 years ago

Lol, forget the 24oz's and just shoot for a forty.


3 years ago

If you use 24oz 'refreshment' cans (wicked grin) you’ll get a stove that's not much more as far packing weight, but has a longer burn time


3 years ago

I am impressed by the simplicity ; very well designed. I found the video to be very instructive. How long does it burn? What is the recommended amount of alcohol you can safely use? Have you designed a holder to ensure safety while using?

Must admit when you started drilling the holes; I was worried about your fingers! Relieved when you put it down on the table and completed the drilling process!


3 years ago

i like the simple design. i have seen comments suggesting you boil water. i would like to add to this idea; i want to see you grill some chicken with 4 of your stoves and the portable grill from this instructable:

just for fun if you would like to help us out. :)


3 years ago

with that amount of alcohol, what is the burn length for that fuel amount?


3 years ago


Really nice and simple design, I love it!

did you try to boil water on it? can you maybe attemp it and measure how long it takes for a sepecific volume to boil? thanks in advance!


3 years ago

That's awesome! :)