Redux: A Tutorial on How To Build a Coke Can Stove for Hiking, Bushcraft and Camping

I was just looking over my Coke can camping stove tutorial and thought it might be a good time to post it again - it is such an easy stove to make, and lots of fun.

Okay, following up on a post about emergency preparedness, picture this: your power has just gone out. It is the middle of winter, and the battery-powered radio reports that a major substation has suffered an outage due to iced-over power cables. You are told to expect that power will return in no less than 7 days. So you get out all the blankets in the house, and warm up the bed. You find your 72 hour kit, first aid kit, candles, flashlights, your food supplies (some freeze-dried entrees and cans of food), water, radio and more. After all that fussing around, you decide you want a nice cup of coffee and a hot meal. You have a camping stove that runs on naptha but you'd rather use that outside so the fuel doesn't smell so strongly. You need a quick stove for in the house. A good option for this is an alcohol stove.

I was at a dollar store the other day wandering around the aisles. Other than the things we were actually going there to get, I started browsing the shelves with an eye on camping and bushcrafty things - products I could use directly or indirectly to fuel the fire of my hobby.

I saw a pile of Fondu Fuel bottles containing denatured alcohol and had a little ponder. After a minute of semi-deep thought, I decided that finally it was time I made a Coke Can Stove. Or a Pepsi Can Stove. Or a Pop Can Stove. Whatever you'd like to call it. But because I drink Coke, it would have to be a Coke Can Stove.

Boiling water is obviously important when camping or hiking or during a power outage. With one you can make hot drinks, heat meals (boil in a bag, or heat straight from the can), cook rice or eggs, wash for regular hygiene or for first-aid reasons, sterilize gauze or needles or sutures, and much more.

Now this is a very simple little stove. All that is needed to build one is a pair of Coke Cans (specifically the bottom half of each can), a tuna can or some kind of base, something to cut the drink cans (knife or scissors) and something to poke holes in the drink cans (pin, or drill, or awl, or a nail). Into the stove you pour the denatured alcohol, light it and heat up your food or boil water for tea.

Anyway, all I know is that it took me about 15 minutes to assemble a Coke Can Stove. Here is how you can do it too:

Acquire two cans of Coke and drink them quickly and grab a can of Tuna - consume tuna quickly. Rinse out the cans.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
First of all drill roughly 8 to 14 1/16th holes into the rim of one can - you can also use the awl on a pocket knife or a pin mounted in an Exacto-Blade sheath. These holes are the gas jets. Also drill 3 1/16th holes into the center of the concave section. These will serve as gas jets also, but primarily as the fuel-filling holes.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Carefully score each Coke can an inch from the bottom using the tip of your knife resting on a solid item about 1 1/2 inches high (I'm using the tuna can above). Rotate the can against it a few times. This will keep the score consistent and level.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Then remove the tops of each can by roughly cutting an inch above the score.



bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Dispose of the cut off tops (recycle them).

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Slowly working your way around, cut tabs down to just above the score marks on each can using scissors.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Bend them back and forth to get a neat break at the score line. This makes a very clean and straight edge.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Dispose of the tabs (recycle them).

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
The next step is to nest the two halves together, top into the bottom.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
You may find that bending little indentations in the top piece will help you slip it into the bottom piece.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Be patient, it seems tricky, but you'll get it.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Once it starts nesting, firmly and carefully tap the top section into place using a heavy object like a full can or a book.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
In the image above, you can see the fuel jets and the filling holes.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
This is a lightweight stove, which is also pretty tough. You can carry one around in your jacket pocket. The fuel is stored separately.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
I'm using a metal tray for safety above. The Bic lighter will get the stove going.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Fill the concave cavity about 3 times with fuel and allow it to drain into the stove.

Then pour about a teaspoon of fluid onto the priming section (in this case the tuna can). The fuel within the stove needs to be primed before it can ignite - i.e. it is heated by the external flame on the priming surface until alcohol fumes are pressurized and are emitted from the fuel jets.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Above you can see the priming flames begin to heat the stove and the fuel within.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Here too - but I have used a regular empty tin can as the priming surface (better for the photograph). Soon the priming flames will exhaust themselves and burn out, hopefully not before doing their job.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
See the priming flames on the side of the stove in the image above, and the pressurized fuel jets beginning to ignite.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
Here the initial burst of pressure has subsided, replaced with the regular fuel jets burning. They will increase in size in a minute or so, once the stove has warmed up.

bushcraft, camping, hiking, stove, coke, algonquin, mungo, says, bah
In the image above, I have placed the stove within an Ikea cutlery drainer which I have used as a wood stove. Above it I have placed a camping pot full of water. It took about 10 minutes for 1 1/2 liters of water to come to a boil, shortly before the stove ran out of alcohol fuel.

You can keep one of these stoves at home, one in the car and one in your jacket pocket for the moment that you need hot cocoa.

Let me know if you have any questions please about the construction of this stove.

Cheers,

Mungo

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Mungo Is Still Mad About Wool Blankets

So this is a rewrite of an older post. I'm going to start writing more again soon - but with the cold winter upon us here in Ontario, I wanted to share my Wool Blankets post again. Stay warm out there!

I picked up some wool blankets recently at a second hand thrift shop. They cost $4 each. I am utterly amazed at the prices there. To buy a new King sized blanket at the Hudson's Bay store in Canada, it would cost me $475. For a Double sized blanket, $275. Even to buy one on Ebay.ca, with shipping factored in, I'd be paying at least $75.

So instead, I occasionally stop in at the neighbourhood thrift shop and browse the rack at the back of the floor where you can pick up used comforters, sheets and towels. Nearly every time I go there, there are one or two blankets waiting for me.



Why is this such a big deal for me? I'm not sure. I'm obsessed for some reason. For the outdoors, there is something magical about a wool blanket. It is a terrific insulator. Your body emits about the same amount of heat energy as a 150 watt light bulb. The trick to staying warm in the outdoors is to keep that heat from leaking away from your body faster than your body can replenish it. You can achieve that equilibrium - or overcome the environmental temperature differential - by keeping colder objects away from your body (the ground, water, even cold air) or by adding warmth to your immediate area (warm air from a fire, hot water bottle, infrared radiation from a fire-heated rock wall, etc...), which effectively does the same thing - keeping the cold away.

Mors Kochanski talks about treating your clothing and covering as a micro-environment. He says that you should be sufficiently clothed to survive whatever nature can throw at your for 4 full days, without having a shelter. So you need to have layers of covering and clothes that will trap air in it, and not hold water. Water is not a great insulator. In fact, it allows heat to migrate from your body to the environment 27 times more efficiently than does air. Worse still would be to wrap yourself in aluminum foil... I would be prepared for the worst if I had a couple of wool blankets with my normal winter camping clothing. Even wet, wool retains a degree of insulation - and it won't wick and absorb moisture like cotton does.

A wool blanket is safe around a fire - when sparks land on a wool blanket, it chars but won't catch on fire. It won't melt like polyester fleece, or like plastic. You can use a wool blanket to sit on, or as a quick tarp-like shelter which will protect you from light rains, and from the sun.

A wool blanket can be quickly and easily made into a coat, or with extra effort, into a nicely-cut shirt, and can be used as a sleeping bag.

A backpack can be quickly made with a wool blanket and some twine, to carry your gear, or even a baby. Tightly rolled up and tied off with a bit of twine or paracord, I can easily attach a couple of blankets to a knapsack.

You can collect nuts, seeds, berries, fruit and other edibles on an outspread blanket, and of course use it to transport them in.

But for me, a wool blanket is mostly for wrapping myself in when I am sitting down in the outdoors.

Cheers,

Mungo

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A Snowy Saturday, Spent Indoors

It was a snowy Saturday here in Toronto, so we stayed indoors and played and read and napped and had a great time.

A Snowy Saturday
James and his sticker book.

A Snowy Saturday
James playing with stickers.

A Snowy Saturday
Monty sniffing James.

A Snowy Saturday
A view outside the back window, with the shed and school.

A Snowy Saturday
The winter rose bush.

A Snowy Saturday
James putting stickers on my arm.

A Snowy Saturday
The abominable snow beagle, Monty.

A Snowy Saturday
Monty standing guard.

A Snowy Saturday
Monty running away.

Cheers,

Mungo

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'Twas the Night before Bahmas (The Story of St. Mungo and Team of Beagles)

Twas the night before Bahmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Mungo soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny beagles.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Mungo.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now bah away! Bah away! Bah away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St. Mungo too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little beagle paw.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Mungo came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly!

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Bahmas to all, and to all a good-night!"

Happy Bahmas everyone and hope you have a great New Year.

Mungo

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Shooting The Moon, On A Campfire Kind of Night

Shooting The Moon, On A Campfire Kind of Night
I shot the moon tonight, the night after the lunar eclipse. It is a brilliant full moon, and I wasn't able to do it justice. But it is a perfectly wonderful night, and I wish I was camping in the woods with a warm campfire, sitting on a log, covered in a wool blanket.

Shooting The Moon, On A Campfire Kind of Night
That would be perfect.

Hope you're having a nice night,

Mungo

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