Tag Archives: big alcohol stove

The HermitFire

This is my newest invention in the ForeverFire series: the HermitFire, a denatured alcohol heater/stove. This is not the standard quart can toilet paper alcohol heater that’s on so many forums all over the net. This has an adjustable flame, 2 pot stands for cooking, and a heat hood to direct heat toward you rather than straight up.


That’s a gallon paint can. Inside is a quart can filled with carbon felt.


I didn’t have any Monster energy cans around, so I used a Venom can instead. It sits higher, but for this I think it works better. It’s mounted underneath the lid, and the paint lid is reinforced with 22 gauge steel. What you see on top are 6 T nuts, the inner three hold 2″ #10 machine screws for use with small pots. The outer three hold 3″x 1/4″ machine screws for use with large frying pans or pots.


If used like this with a hiking pot the outer pot stand makes it virtually impossible for the pot to tip.


Pretty cool! I didn’t plan it this way, just the luck of winging it! But where to store the pot stand legs when using it as a heater?


I toyed with the idea of making a container like this out of aluminum, but this was so much easier, it’s a steel gum container.



So you’ve seen the stove application of this, now for the heater!


This is the heat hood, fabricated from 22 gauge steel. Instead of the heat going straight up this focuses it forward.


Side view with gratuitous shot of the worm gear.

You could heat with it this way, but it’s more efficient with a flame diffuser.



This is the flame at full power, about 12″ of blue soot free flame!


A closer pic. I apologize for the lack of detail but the only way to see the flame was for the lights to be off.


This is the flame diffuser with the HermitFire on low. All this does is help spread the heat out so that when it hits the heat hood it’s not burning on one spot, and actually seems to produce a more even, hotter heat.

Now let’s take a more in depth look at the HermitFire. A great deal of thought and work went into this project. The fuel cell (quart can with carbon felt wick) needs to be elevated in the gallon can. When testing I used an empty 7oz sterno can. I considered filling the sterno with fuel, just to have extra in case I took this contraption out in the sticks. But I wanted the base for the fuel cell to be secure, and it seemed over the top for the extra fuel. Then I considered using a beef stew can cut down to the height of the sterno can (approximately 2 5/8″). I could rivet it to the bottom of the gallon can. Perhaps I could fill it with sand for extra tip protection. Nix that! It’s heavy enough, and I’m always cautious around anything hot as is. Plus if the stew can was riveted where would the flame diffuser go? There just isn’t enough room between the quart and gallon can walls to store it.


So I cut a beef stew can down and left 6 flaps. Note that it was actually drawn to have 8 equally spaced flaps, but those 2 were cut off so that the fuel cell stand can easily be pulled out. These flaps keep the stand can from sliding around, and because it fits with the pint can perfectly, all you do is set the fuel cell on it and it’s always centered in the gallon can. This way the fuel cell is elevated properly, it’s stable, and the stand is removable so the diffuser has a storage space.



Certain cans just happen to be perfect for the ForeverFire series. This diffuser is made from a chicken dumpling can. What a twist! =P

Because the choke ring is so large I made it out of roof flashing. This was also the first time I made the worm gear out of wood.


I like how this adjusts, the screw always stays were you set it, with the aluminum worm gear that is not always the case. The problem with such a large choke ring is that when fully opened the bit of wood falls, and you can’t readjust the ring. So I added two choke ring supports, the one supporting the bit of wood is pictured above.


Why this second support? These also keep the choke ring spread out evenly when adjusting, so that when fully opened all the air holes are exposed, rather than the choke ring resting on some.

Here’s how the heat hood is attached, two 3/4″x1/4″ machine screw.




Simply slide the hood over the machine screws and push down.

This was a lot of fun! It’s hard to give a burn time on this, as cooking for myself requires a low flame…and by low I mean a blue 4″ flame. I have heated with it on low for 2 days, occasionally turning it up for more heat, but always readjusting it to low as this keeps the temperature consistent for quite some time. That’s 2 days and there’s still quite a bit of fuel left in it. I do believe that this works better/more efficiently than my commercially available denatured alcohol heater, as that burns on high for about 5 hours, and on low for 2 days, consuming about a pint and a half of fuel. Take THAT HeatMate! The cost of making the HermitFire was about $15 less than buying the HeatMate, not that cheap, but I made it, and I’ll save money on fuel.  There are some experiments I plan to do to potentially improve the fuel cell, but for now the HermitFire is more than satisfactory!

If anyone is interested in buying one of these please comment and I’ll get back to you with pertinent details.

Happy can crafting!


ForeverFire Nomad Version 2.0

Well I’ve used the Nomad for months now, and I still love it. As the carbon felt gets used more it does take a little longer for the flame to get to it’s maximum. Not a big deal, because the flame is also less finicky when started, meaning I don’t have to worry about an orange flame before it’s hot enough to adjust. I just light it and put my pot or cast iron frying pan on which helps to get the heat to it’s maximum. After a couple of minutes I adjust it.

The problem I had with the Nomad after heavy use is that the JB Weld that helps to bond and seal the Monster top to the quart can lid burns through, as well as where it was used to weld the nuts holding the machine screws.



It’s not clear from the photo, but this makes the machine screw pot stand unstable, and it was only a matter of time until it collapsed while cooking. Here’s an under shot:



At first I could just finger tighten the nuts shown, but that was rapidly failing as more of the JB Weld burned off the top nuts, and because the quart can lid isn’t that strong. Also, sometimes the tripod pot stand seemed a little bit precarious when flipping burgers or chicken in the frying pan.

My solution was to fabricate a new lid:



4 legs are the least of the improvements. The biggest is that instead of setting the monster top on top of the paint can lid, I inserted it from underneath the lid. This eliminates the need for JB Weld. The second biggest improvement is that the pot stand isn’t resting directly on the paint lid. I used the lid of a steel soup can to reinforce it.

Because I found it unnecessary to adjust the pot stand height I tried using T nuts. This means no drilling through the lid, and no nuts underneath the the lid. Simply screw the screws down and the tension created when they hit the lid makes for an impressively sturdy pot stand.



See? No nuts! You can also see the outer lip of the Monster energy drink top inserted from below.

I was always curious about mounting the Monster top from below, and I knew it would work on the Nomad because of another project I just finished. I also got the inspiration for reinforcing the lid with steel from that project. Blog soon to follow.

I got slightly off topic there! This new pot stand setup is sooooo much easier to use, sturdier, and all around better!

I’m a diy kind of guy, and have shown how to make this nifty adjustable alcohol stove. I know there are people out there who don’t have the time or know how to make these. That’s fine. Since I love to make these, is there anyone willing to purchase them?


Please comment if so and I’ll set a price and make arrangements.

A Day Out With Bentley and the Nomad

I had an unexpected day off from work yesterday, and since you don’t get many cool days in August, I took advantage of it and went for a nice long ride. Since I need to eat on long rides I decided to field test the Nomad. This was also the first time I used my custom windscreen from www.packafeather.com


I’ve got a little over 3,500 miles on this girl. Because the Nomad isn’t an ultralight alcohol stove, and because I don’t really get into dehydrated food that much, my supplies took up one whole side of the panniers.

Left to right in the back: ForeverFire Nomad, custom windscreen, Tiffin set with spatula. In the front is a paint can opener and some flint and steel. I got the tiffin set for my birthday from my wonderful girlfriend, and these things are way better than any lunch box. Easy to clean, hot or cold food, no sandwich bags or tupperware required…and you can cook in them! The top will even hold soups or stews! By the way, I got the spatula from Spatula City. Just watch Weird Al’s “UHF” for more information.

Packafeather’s adjustable windscreen opened wide

This will open quite a bit wider. Here it is closed down some for use with hiking pots:

Note this windscreen has a notch in the bottom for airflow and for the flame adjustment knob to stick through

I’m very impressed with this windscreen. It functioned well once I got the notch out of the wind and it adjusts size very easily.

One of my locally infamous trail burgers

To give you an idea of the size of this B.F.B., my tiffin pan is a little over 6″ in diameter. That’s about a pound of beef, with parsley and steak seasoning mixed in it. You know it’s one of my infamous burgers not only because of its size, but because it has a ton of shredded swine flesh (BACON!) and extra sharp cheddar cheese mixed into it.

And you thought my photography couldn’t get any worse!

This clearly shows the second tiffin pan containing a burger bun and a hunk of cheese. Clearly. Time to clean your screen. Sheesh!

Nomad upon lighting

It was a bit breezy where I was cooking, plus the windscreen isn’t on an entirely flat surface, and is opened extra wide so I can set the tiffin pan in it.

Ready to adjust the flame!

High blue flame, ready to cook

Once the pan is set on there and the screen is tightened up the flame mellows out a little from the wind.

Had to cut it in half to flip it!

All done! That’s only half the burger on the bun!

From start to finish this huge hunk of dairy and porkbeef took 25 minutes to be well done. The wind put the simmer flame out twice, so if I had adjusted it to medium at times, it prolly would have shaved a couple of minutes off. But I don’t think that”s bad for such a huge burger, and didn’t take much fuel as I could still see some liquid through the center hole in the carbon felt.

Happy can crafting and trails, until we meet again!

The New Perfect Alcohol Stove: The ForeverFire Nomad

This is THE official new perfect alcohol stove. It was made from a quart paint can cut down and a 7oz sterno can.

ForeverFire Nomad in travel mode

This is my finest alcohol stove creation. Ever. I am in love with this stove. It burns for 2 hours on high. That’s an 8″ flame. An 8″ blue, soot free, flame. It burns that long before the flame starts to diminish in size. It would prolly go for close to 3 hours on high, but not be a high flame for the last hour.

This male offspring of a firearm will simmer for…I expected it to burn around 4 and a half hours. If you had told me there was a simmer alcohol stove that burns as long as this, I would not have believed you. I did not believe this would have this burn time.  4 and a half hours would have been sufficient.

This 2″ flame will burn for close to 7 freaking hours. 7. Freaking. Hours. That’s with about 8 ounces of denatured alcohol.

Hey Penny Stove! Kiss my gangly white ass!!!

Nomad worm gear fully closed

I only used 2 rivets this time. I also folded a 3rd layer into the riveted portion of the aluminum, one more than last time. It makes a big difference when adjusting the stove.

Topless >;)>

Here you see the pot stand legs and the sterno cover that makes this thing portable. Never will any fuel spill out or evaporate. You could keep this fully fueled and sealed and it would last years, if not decades.

Carbon felt wicking

You could use fiberglass insulation as well, but this stuff produces a better flame and WILL NOT burn when fuel gets low. Note this is tightly packed. This makes a huge difference when it comes to flame size. The middle is left open to aid in refilling.

Pot stand and top installed

These are the same 2 and a half inch #10 machine screws I used on the first stove.

How it looks when first started

You can see the simmer ring is opened. Whenever these are started it has to be open and you can’t adjust the ring for a minute or two until the stove (or more accurately the alcohol) gets warm enough.

Simmer ring worm gear fully opened

Hot enough to adjust!

If you don’t care about soot, you could cook on this, but blue flame is hotter anyway.


Fully adjusted 8″ blue flame

On high.


On low

The 12oz monster energy drink that I used for the top and cap comes with a blue plastic seal, that eventually deforms after extinguishing the stove. I used a bit of cork to replace it.

Cork for cap seal, jb welded

On the original ForeverFire, I had the sterno can sitting on a portion of another can. The Nomad doesn’t have that extra portion. The bottom does get warm, but not enough to burn me or what it’s sitting on. This makes the Nomad a little lighter and over an inch shorter. For the Nomad bottom I again used the bottom of a beef stew can, but did not invert it. It happened to fit the quart can perfectly, and looks almost professional.


You can figure out how to make this by reading “The Perfect Alcohol Stove” on this site. One important difference is that the sterno can has a heavy 1/4″ gap between it and the quart lid. It just wouldn’t burn with the 1/8″ gap the ForeverFire required. The height of the quart can should be cut to 2 5/8″. Instead of seven 1/2″ holes, I drilled nine in this model. With the extra air flow I have to turn the adjustment knob alot less to create drastic change.

After I get my custom windscreen from www.packafeather.com I’ll stitch up a carry case for the Nomad and accessories.

The pot stand doesn’t screw down through the top like the original, which is a bit of a pain, but that’s the only con. I’ve already noticed that fuel lasts longer what with the sterno cap seal. Another important difference is that the nuts for the pot stand have to be jb welded to the top of the lid, or the lid won’t seal.

If you make one of these please comment back with your experience or questions or things you may have done differently.

Happy can crafting!

(Update)  ForeverFire Nomad 2.0

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:  http://zenstoves.net/

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. http://www.packafeather.com

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