Stovetop via Screengrab from Vimeo

Cheapism/Vimeo via Tom Allen

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.

Camping aficionados and travel enthusiasts are always on the hunt for ingenious methods to simplify their outdoor experiences. Here at Cheapism, we love the art of re-purposing everyday items in the most cost-efficient and convenient ways. 

One example of this is a DIY camping stove made from just a beer can, a pocket knife, and rubbing alcohol. In the video below, a traveler demonstrates how to recreate this compact device — and how easy it is to pack and bring on your next camping or hiking trip. 

Whether it's brewing a cup of coffee in the mountains or warming up a meal on a beach, this smart contraption proves that sometimes, the best solutions are often the simplest (and cheapest). 

For more smart life hacks and money-saving tips, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Materials Required:

  • A beer can (or any aluminum drink can)
  • A pocket knife or scissors
  • Rubbing alcohol (Medical grade isopropyl alcohol commonly used as a wound-cleaning antiseptic is recommended; available at local pharmacies, including CVS, Walgreens, etc).

Steps to Create the DIY Camping Stove:

  • Preparation: Begin by emptying the beer can and cleaning it thoroughly to remove any residue.
  • Cutting the Can: Using a knife or a pair of scissors, cut the can into two approximately two-thirds of the way up from the bottom. This will form the base of your stove. The top third can be further trimmed to create a circular ring that will serve as the burner. 
  • Assembly: Fit the circular ring into the base by sliding the top portion of the can onto the bottom base, ensuring it sits snugly. This will create a chamber where the alcohol will be poured.
  • Creating Ventilation Holes: Around the perimeter of the circular ring (the top third that you've trimmed), make small holes using the knife. These will serve as ventilation points to help your flame stay lit when the stove is in use. 
  • Fueling and Lighting: Pour a moderate amount of medical alcohol into the chamber. Using a matchstick or a lighter, ignite the alcohol. Within seconds, you will see flames emanating from the ventilation holes. Now you can place your pot or pan on top and you're ready to start cooking!

Note: Depending on wind and temperature conditions, the stove should stay lit for about 10-15 minutes, according to REI You can always (carefully) add more alcohol to keep it burning for longer. 

Advantages of a DIY Can Stove:

  1. It's compact and convenient: As the user shows, the device is lightweight and compact and can be carried with ease on any journey or camping trip. 
  2.  It's cheap to make: Repurposing used cans saves money and reduces environmental waste.
  3. Widely available: Medical alcohol like isopropyl alcohol is widely available — making it convenient to refuel whenever necessary.

Always take safety precautions when making and using the DIY camping stove. Use it in open spaces, away from flammable materials, and always keep a water source nearby in case of emergencies.

Cheapism in the News