This is not strictly a fly fishing nor tenkara post – but I think the subject mater falls in the interest area of many anglers.
Apparently Potted Meat is good for something – it just takes some research to figure out exactly what that is. I stumbled upon the idea of DIY alcohol stove on Pinterest I think it was. A quick search for “alcohol stove”on Pinterest will give you all sorts of options for stove designs. Some are very simple, some are much more complicated. I am not an expert in this area – in fact this is the first attempt at making an alcohol stove. At the suggestion of Rob of Tenkara Guides I went with a version of the Super Cat stove as detailed at the site Jim Wood’s Base Camp. This type of alcohol is very, very simple to make and use. Simple is what I was looking for. I wanted this to be an easy project to do with my son – something that he could mostly do on his own.The Super Cat stove fit the bill. Called the Super Cat because it is often made with aluminum cat food cans. We used a 5.5 oz Hormel Potted Meat can for our project.
Here’s all you’ll need to make and use the stove that we made:
- Aluminum cat food or Potted Meat can – we happened to buy a 5.5 oz potted meat can, but you can use the smaller sized cans.
- Hole punch tool
- Sharpie marker
- HEET for fuel – the kind in the yellow bottle.
- Aluminum foil – for windscreen
For fully detailed instructions and information see the Jim Woods’s Super Cat page. Rather than detail our construction in writing Sam and I made video of the process.
This was a fun and easy DIY project. And it worked. For just a few bucks you can have a working, useable ultralight stove. Pretty cool I’d say. We cooked Ramen Noodles successfully. The 1.5 oz of fuel we used for the Ramen Noodles was just enough – with no left over fuel. The fuel stopped burning prior to full noodle cookage – but the noodles still cooked all the way. We’ve also boiled water and reconstituted some of that freeze dried beef stew (not too bad actually).
If you’re looking for a cheap backpacking stove this would absolutely work. It is not going to simmer foods as I’ve made it(although there are mods for this discussed on the Super Cat page) and it won’t give you super long cook times (but you could always use two stoves and shuttle your pot back and forth if you need longer cook times.) If all you need to do is boil water to make coffee and instant oatmeal or reconstitute freeze dried stuff, the Super Cat will work nicely.
It is a good project to do with your kids – however cooking with the stove can be dangerous. Lighting the stove can be dangerous and because of the small area of the can it is not the most stable cooking surface. Do not let your kids cook on this thing – that is a job for the adults. And be very careful when using it.
There are many many different designs for alcohol stoves and many modifications and add-ons possible, from stands to windscreens to pot holders, to pots. It is a deep and diverse rabbit hole that could be pretty fun to explore and get lost in.
I bought a 1.5 Litre grease pot from Wal-Mart to go with my alcohol stove – these seem to be a popular choice with some alcohol stove users. It is a light aluminum pot with a lid, handle and strainer. Most importantly it’s very cheap ($7). The handle is metal and directly connected to the pot – so it is not useable when the pot is hot. You’ll need a pot holder or a leather glove or a pot grabber to go with it. I bought an aluminum pot grabber to use with it for $4. The pot also makes a nice storage container for the stove, windscreen and pot grabber.
Like I said above – I am a rank amateur when it comes to alcohol stoves but there are plenty of good resources out there to get you started if you want to get into this. Here are a few that I came across. If you google “alcohol stove” – you will find a seeming limitless supply of information and resources.
- The Super Cat page from Jim Wood’s Base Camp
- Jason Klass’ Gear Talk blog Alcohol Stove Category
- Minibulldesign Cult sells complete alcohol stoves and accessories as well as DIY supplies. I haven’t bought anything from this site, just browsed, so I don’t vouch for or endorse.
- Trail Designs also sells alcohol stoves, cook gear and accessories, including a nice windsceen/pot-stand system called the Caldera Cone. Again – I haven’t purchased anything from this site – just thought it looked like it had some cool stuff, so I can’t vouch for or endorse.