Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tin Pot Dictator Stove

Today in the News:  No news is good news.

Link of the Day:  http://www.thewanderingthinker.blogspot.com/

Tin Pot Dictator Stove

I'm really into stoves right now. I think that so much can be done with different stoves for both heating and cooking.  Here in Colorado, the fire danger is usually high due to the dryness and the altitude, so being able to have a fire in a (somewhat) safe manor is very attractive to me.  I've seen several people make stoves out of tin cans and wanted to take a stab at it myself.

I went for a can that had a built in cap for the top.  I figured that adding a cap would make it so that I would be able to stash gear inside of the can, thus saving space.  This one came with nacho cheese inside.  While the can is cool, the nacho cheese looked.......gross.  So I fed it to the dog.  She'll eat anything, especially if she thinks it doesn't belong to her.

Every stove that I see tends to have really neat cuts in it.  I think a lot of people use a drill press.  I don't have one, so I used a razor knife and tin snips.  Using the snips was a challenge because of the shape of the can.

I made more frequent holes along the bottom than the top.  This would not prove to work in my favor.

The appealing things about this stove are that A.)  It is really cheap (about $1.00) and the fuel (wood) is available as I hike.  The drawback that I've found is that the can is small.  Very small.  So small that you have to keep adding sticks to get it to burn. 


I did my tests on the smaller can and it didn't work out well.  I think I needed more holes at the top.  I also found a bigger can and decided that I wanted two stoves, one so I could warm my tea and one to warm my food.  Running both of these will allow me to have both at the same time, which I enjoy. 

So here it is, the bigger can.

 This time I used a big drill bit and had a piece of a log stuck inside.  It still made a messy hole.

 Looks like it was hit by a .45.

 I clipped the hanging pieces of metal off.
 Then I used my round chainsaw file to make sure the edges weren't sharp.


 Finished product.  Not perfect, but it will work.

Oh, look - Kim Jong Il!  Okay, so I know that the can isn't a tin pot.  But the name works, right?

 Here is the other side. 

 This is the smaller can, previously mentioned.  Kim Jong Un!

 Get Un!

 I put a few more holes in the top of the first can.

   I figured this way I could carry two stoves with very minimal weight.

 Slides right in.

 Now, the test.  Kim Jong Il will go first.

 For fuel, I used the twigs pictured above as well as spruce cones.  As you can see, it blows a lot of smoke, much like its namesake.

 When I blew on it, the lfames would pop out, but not well.

 Back to blowing smoke.

 I added a few chips of pine.  They burned, but not well.
 After 25 minutes, the water still didn't boil.  It was hot enough for tea, but no rolling boil.  At that point, I figured it was back to the drawing board to make more holes.  Bummer.

 It burned down to a nice bed of coals, but the red color is only after I blew on it.

 What the heck.  I got a cup o' tea out of the deal.

If you look really hard, the only thing left of Kim Jong Il is his hair.  In the end, life will imitate art.

Back to the drawing board.  If you've done this and I'm missing something, please chime in.

Pax Domini Sit Semper Vobiscum,

Mike, Oscar, Hotel.....out.


  1. An old-fashioned can-opener that cuts a triangular hole is what the Boy Scouts used. Do you suppose you have TOO MANY holes?

  2. You could be right, Gorges. Any more info on the boy scout can opener deal?

  3. I've had a coffee can stove in mind for a while now, but still have yet to build it. I too thought about the triangle can opener my grandmother had for making my holes, but sadly I can't find it or one like it locally(she used it to punch holes in tomato juice cans for me as a kid ...yum). Could it be the size of the can that is limiting in itself I.E. not enough room to build a big enough fire? I have only seen the made out of old coffee cans and paint cans so I'm not to familiar with anything smaller. What I saw one guy do one time is take some BBQ skewers and run through the can to build the fire bed on. That way it might get enough air underneath to start a good draft going (Like how some home stoves have a draft knob on the ash door, ours has one and unless we keep it less than 1/4 turn everyone in the house is sweating and the outlet pipe into the chimney starts glowing).