Monthly Archives: June 2012

The Perfect Alcohol Stove

Anybody who makes alcohol stoves will verify this statement: alcohol stoves are a hobby that borderlines on obsession.

For those of you who are unaware of alcohol stoves, these are stoves that one makes from recyclable cans fueled by denatured alcohol. It’s grain alcohol (90% alcohol or greater) with poison added to it so lushes won’t drink it unless they want to go blind or die. The poison is added to keep taxes on the product down.

For a plethora of information:

To keep things simple, basically you light these things and they burn. Most of them don’t burn for more than 15-20 minutes. Simmering with them is a rare function. I began experimenting with simmer stoves about a month ago. The easiest to make was the Super Kat Stove. It burned for 20 mins on high, 50 mins on low. It was, frankly, a pain in the ass to adjust the flame, as I needed to use a screw driver to hold the stove down, and pliers to adjust the simmer ring without burning myself.

Then I found the holy grail of alcohol stoves. The Feather Fire and Feather Fire XL.

These stoves are beautifully crafted, and from most of the reviews I’ve read worked great. But…a burn time of 20 mins on high isn’t good enough for my needs. Because I use alcohol stoves to do all my indoor cooking, I need something that will burn alot between refills. Plus buying one isn’t nearly as fun as making one.

I had a good idea of how to make one, and youtube clarified it for me. So I decided to make a big version. I introduce to you the ForeverFire:

The ForeverFire

High flame, about eight inches

Low setting, about an inch

This is the second one I’ve made, the pot stand didn’t turn out on the first one, nor did the jb welded bottom, which holds it all together. When I tested the first one, which had fiberglass insulation in it, it burned for an hour and forty minutes on high before it started to burn the insulation. I estimate it’ll burn for close to 4 hours on simmer. I’ll have to retest it, as the second stove has carbon felt for insulation. Carbon felt can be bought at any hardware store, in the plumbing section. It’s marketed as a “flame protector” for soddering pipes without setting what’s around the pipes on fire. This stuff won’t burn until it gets over 2,300 degrees farenheit. It was costly for this stove, about $17, but worth it because it’s more spill proof and won’t burn like the fiberglass insulation when the fuel gets low.

List of materials:

2 24oz beef stew cans

1 24oz chicken dumpling can

1 7oz sterno can

1 24oz beer can

1 12oz Monster energy drink can

1 one and three quarters inch #8 all purpose wood screw

1/16th inch cable, 6-8″ in length

1 split rivet

1 small piece of wood or aluminum

6 steel rivets, 1/8th” diameter, 1/8th” grip

3 2 1/2″ #10 machine screws

6 nuts for above machine screws

fiberglass insulation or carbon felt

duct tape or gorilla tape (which is what I used)

high temperature paint (use Rustoleum, it works better than Krylon, as Krylon will burn off)

jb weld high temperature epoxy


1 unibit or 1/8th” drill bit and 1/2″ drill bit


1 5/64th ” high speed drill bit


razor blade

tin snips


The first step is to cut the top of the 12oz monster energy drink can

12 oz Monster can

Monster top

Using scissors, cut three legs. Then use a razor blade to score the metal between said legs. Use scissors to cut metal into tiny strips. Bend strips off.

How it should turn out

Side view Monster top

Step 2

On the bottom of the empty beef stew can, set the lip of the Monster top in the center, and draw a circle. Then drill a hole in the center of the circle. Use tin snips to cut circle out. The lip of the Monster can should just fit into hole.

Beef stew can flame cut

Step 3

Burn sterno fuel. Note how crappily it burns. This will make you laugh when the ForeverFire is finished. You need to cut the bottom off the chicken dumpling can. This can has a smaller diameter than the beef stew can. It must be cut so that when the sterno can sits on it, inside the beef stew can, there is no more of a gap between the stew can and sterno can than 1/8th of an inch. Any more than this and the simmer function will not work. Take the lid from the stew can, jb weld it to the dumpling can. Then center the sterno can and jb weld that to stew lid.

Sterno setup

Note this is painted with high temperature paint. Not necessary, I did it so it wouldn’t rust over time. The purpose of the beef stew lid is that it will nearly match the diameter of the stew can, and prevent air from flowing down. This probably isn’t necessary, but I’m a bit anal retentive, and wasn’t going to risk this lil step messing up the stove. A nice function of this setup is the bottom of the stove never gets hot, no burn marks on the kitchen table!

Step 4

Draw 8 equally spaced lines on the beef stew can. Make sure they’re at a height which is just above the top of the stew lid. Scratch the eighth hole. Move the first and seventh hole in closer by a quarter inch each to the other holes. Drill at 1/2″ diameter.

1/2″ airholes

Better shot of 7 airholes spacing

Step 5

Center Monster top over fire hole in stew can. Drill a hole through each leg. Jb weld Monster top. Rivet into stew can. Jb weld around Monster top.

Monster Top

This is so that you can screw the top on and conserve fuel. It also helps to shape the flame, instead of being all willy nilly like a wood fire flame, it makes it conical.

Step 6

Fill the sterno can with fiberglass insulation or carbon felt. If using carbon felt, leave the very center empty, as this makes filling the stove easier.

Step 7

How this stove works requires a worm gear. I bought a small piece of aluminum from Tractor Supply. A bit of wood should work just fine. Drill an 1/8″ hole through it. Using a screwdriver, screw the 1 3/4″ wood screw through it. Then remove the screw. Screw it into a piece of wood, to hold it, while you bore a hole using the 5/64″ bit.

The idea is to insert the 1/16″ steel cable into the head of the screw. Bore into screw about a 1/4″. Jb weld the cable into the screw. Take the split rivet and jb weld it. Then crimp it on the opposite end of the steel cable.

Split rivet adjustment knob

A better view of the split rivet adjustment knob

Step 8

Cut the 24oz beer can diagonally. (You could also use a piece of roof flashing). The width of the cut should be around 2″. When this is done, lay the aluminum out flat, and using a straight edge and a razor blade, cut it at about 1 1/4″ width. I have no pictures of this process. I also never measured the finished length. The aluminum needs to be folded over twice where the screw enters it, and wrapped around the worm gear piece (bit of aluminum or wood). I used gorilla tape for this.

Then drill three holes through simmer ring and stew can and rivet ring to can. (If you want it painted like mine, paint, then rivet.)

Simmer ring worm gear minus adjuster cable

Placement of three rivets

Step 9

Drill 3 3/16″ evenly spaced holes through the top of the stove. Then thread three of the machine nuts onto machine screw, up about half an inch. On the three remaining machine nuts, apply a bit of jb weld, but not so much as it will get on the threads. Place the welded nuts inside the stove and insert the machine screws. then tighten the nuts, so the screws are sturdy. Allow to dry overnight. You now have an adjustable pot stand.

Adjustable pot stand

Step 10

Cut the bottom off the second beef stew can. When inverted it makes the perfect bottom for the ForeverFire.

Stove bottom

Take the sterno setup, apply jb weld to bottom of dumpling can. Then jb weld the rim of the inverted stew bottom. Set the sterno setup on the stew bottom, and place it all together.

Happy can crafting!

(Update)  NEW Perfect Alcohol Stove