Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Buddy Burners and Mini Alcohol Stoves

Buddy Burners and Mini Alcohol Stoves

Buddy Burners 

Naturally, when you light something like this on fire, you need to put it on a heat-proof surface and take the proper precautions.  Something to keep in mind when using cans to make things like this is they often put a coating inside of food cans now that can be toxic while burning; so you want to try to find something without the coating.  I personally don't think it's a big concern if you are outdoors, specially if you are starving or freezing to death; and you can use the same can over and over again.  You could cut down a can that had been made to store acidic foods like tomatoes or pineapple, in which they don't put that kind of coating.  Buddy burners are nice to take camping or to throw in your 'bug out bag'.  Some say you can use them for emergency heating inside, but I don't recommend it.  They put off too much smoke.  The alcohol stoves are much better for that.  I burned the larger alcohol stove version for over 2-1/2 hours, and there was no smoke at all.  I was very impressed.  (click here) 

I hammer down the inside sharp edge where the lid was, but you don't have to.  You want to cut strips of corrugated cardboard (the kind with the holes through the center) to roll together to fit inside the can.  It took, for me, 4-5 strips of the small square cardboard.  Just turn the can on its edge on the cardboard to measure how wide to cut the strips.  

Some people cut strips of fabric and roll it (sticking up over the top edge just a little) 
so it will light easier,but I don't think it is necessary.   Personal preference. 

You want it to fit snugly but don't cram it really tight.  When I start to roll the first strip,
 I rip the corner edge up a little bit so it is sticking up in the center when it is done and easier to light.  

Then, fill the can with wax.  (A good way to use scrap wax or candles you 
don't like.)  Some say to let it cool and fill it again as the wax shrinks, but 
you want a little space at the top or it is harder to light. 

Light it on fire.  

You can tip it to get the top edge burning better.   Again, be careful.

I put two in coffee cans and set them outside to burn full out, and they both burned for about 1-1/4 hours.  

You can make a damper out of the lid of the can or a piece of tinfoil to place over part of the flames to control the heat and flames better.
For the buddy burners, you need to use something to prop the pot up on over the burner.  You could stack rocks (for example) or use a 1 gallon can over it (see the picture below).  

BTW (by the way).  Do you have wax in your carpet you would like to get rid of?  Just place a piece of brown paper bag over it and then run a hot iron on a low setting over the paper.  The heat from the iron draws the wax up into the paper.  Kinda cool really.  Yep, I've had to  do it before.  I'm quite the klutz you know.  ;)

Mini Alcohol Stoves

There are many versions of this that you can try.  The most popular seem to be the tuna/cat food can and pop cans.  I'm going to just focus on the tuna/cat food can stove, using rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol.  There are other fuels that people use in these (ie, the yellow-bottled HEET is considered to be the "best" by many, although I'm not sure if it is safe to use indoors?) ; but, as I said in my Emergency Heater/Stove blog , I'm not going to get into depth much on this subject as I'm not familiar with all the fuels that people use with these, and I can't afford to try a bunch.  If using the rubbing alcohol, try to get the 90% concentration as opposed to the 70 %.  I tried the 70% simply because that is what I have right now. 

You want to make holes around the top edge of the can.  I used a paper puncher.  You want to make two holes, opposite each other, and then two holes in between those two holes and so on until you have 16 equally-spaced holes in the top.  You can mark the top edge with marker first if you want.  Then, make a second row of them under those.  

Fill with the alcohol up to the holes. 

The flames are hard to make out in the photo, but it's lit and burning hot.  
The flames are harder to see in daylight too. 

When you light it, you may have to let it burn a minute or two before putting the pot on it as it may put the flames out  if you put it on too soon.   You put the pot directly on the can.

For both of these:
You could also use the larger number 10 (one-gallon size) can to put over them to control the heat and flame height, (and to cook on) and they would last longer too.  Again, (click here) for that blog and instructions.  

Here's a picture of it. 

You may want to have a strip of tinfoil aluminum foil (happy Bobert?  lol)  or a $ store tin pan or something to help block the wind if outdoors as that can make it difficult to keep it lit. 

Here's an easy recipe:  :)

Sunshine Eggs
"Frogs on a Raft" according to my friend Deb or "Toad in a Hole".
1 slice of bread
1 egg
salt and pepper
Cut or tear about a 2-inch hole in the center of the bread.  Butter the bread.  Put the bread on the camp stove top and break an egg in the center of it and cook it.  Salt and pepper to taste.
For more details, this looks like a very informative site: (click here)

Please feel free to leave a comment, tip, or suggestion below. 


  1. My stove drip pans were looking a wee bit dismal of recent and it was really getting next to me. Like. Really. Well, it was mainly the big-daddy drip pan that I use the most often, and I had scrubbed and scrubbed and SCRUBBED AND SCRUBBED FOREVER AND A LOT AND NO MORE and had barely even made a dent in getting the lovely baked on...whatever it

  2. Wow ! Very very informative post ! That does sound like heaven right now. The damp November chill has arrived in the PNW too, although rains abating this weekend. My house does not stay all that warm and is not that well insulated!!!!
    Thanks !