April 09, 2020
By David M. Fortier
If you have been contemplating a small single-burner stove for your Bug-Out Bag, hunting or camping I have two for you to consider. Growing up in the woods of Maine I did most of my cooking over an open fire when camping. Fuel was plentiful so it made sense. However in many places in the country open fires are not permitted. Plus in certain scenarios a compact lightweight stove simply makes more sense. With this in mind here are two models to fit any budget.
Soda Can Stove
If you are on a tight budget or simply enjoy building things then I highly recommend building a Soda Can Stove. As its name implies, this is a compact single-burner stove made using empty soda cans. Due to this it costs nothing to make but a bit of your time. Plans are readily available on the internet if you do a simple Google search. This type of stove burns alcohol and the basic design dates back more than a century. Trangia has been selling this type of stove since 1925 and they have seen military service. The design consists of a double-wall gas generator, a perforated burner ring and an inner preheat chamber. To use you simply fill it with Denatured alcohol (Yellow bottle Heet fuel-line anti-freeze works great) and light it. Be careful though as you cannot see an alcohol flame in bright light. Once the fuel has warmed up, its vapor will travel up the hollow wall, pass through the perforations around the top of the body and form a ring of flame. A simple pot stand and wind screen finish out the kit allowing water to be easily boiled or food cooked. A darling of ultra-light backpackers this type of stove is extremely light (a couple ounces with stand and windscreen) and extremely reliable. It’s also very simple to fabricate. If you can use a pair of scissors without losing a body part you can build a Pepsi Can Stove. This is also a great project if you have kids. I have one I built years ago which still performs flawlessly. I built a simple pot stand and windscreen for it and use it in conjunction with a lightweight aluminum ‘Heini pot’ I made from a 24 ounce beer can. Total cost? Almost nothing. The whole set-up weighs 3-4 ounces and provides yeomen service. One thing to keep in mind is proper fuel selection is very important. I recommend Yellow Heet or Denatured alcohol, performance is poor with isopropyl alcohol. For more information on alcohol stoves and do-it yourself cook gear visit www.minibulldesign.com, don’t forget to check out his Youtube page!
Primus-The RollsRoyce of stoves
Prefer something a bit more upscale? No problem, one fantastic stove to consider is Primus’s OmniFuel. This award winning stove is manufactured by one of the most respected names in the industry. With most designs you must first select a fuel type and then you pick your stove. Not so with the OmniFuel. The great thing about this incredibly flexible design is it will burn almost anything outside of coal. Prefer the simplicity of canister cartridges? No problem, simply screw one on and get to cooking. Rather use liquid fuels? Screw on a tank and you are good to go. Traveling to some far flung part of the world where only low-grade diesel is available? Not a problem the OmniFuel has you covered as it will even burn diesel! It’s designed to burn butane, gasoline, diesel, kerosene/paraffin and even aviation fuel. Robustly made from high quality materials this stove is built for hard professional use and is designed to last several lifetimes. It comes with three jets, tools, soft-case and comprehensive instructions. The flame is easily regulated to provide a quick rolling boil or an easy simmer. Due to this it’s very easy to cook on rather than just boil water. If you do need to boil water it does it extremely fast. Simple to use, it’s an excellent choice for camping or emergency preparedness. Its ability to burn any fuel has made it my personal pick and I’m extremely pleased with its build quality and outstanding performance. Downside? It’s a bit heavy at 15.6 ounces with fuel pump and its performance does come at a price. Suggested retail is $190 for the stove, pouch, windscreen and fuel bottle. But $170 gets you the Rolls-Royce of single-burner camping stoves. For more information: Primus 307-857-4700 www.primuscamping.com