How to Make A Survival Stove with Two Soda Cans

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There are a lot of ways to eat food if the grid goes down, but almost without fail the best way is hot. Oh, sure you can swallow a lot if you are on the run. MRE’s were designed to be eaten cold. Canned food is edible right from the can, but I haven’t met a meal yet that didn’t taste better with a little doctoring. Maybe its some spices or cheese, but heating almost anything up makes it taste better. The warmer your meal is, especially in colder months, the better you feel when you are eating it. A warm MRE meal can actually taste great. OK, it can taste pretty good if you heat it up.

With the need for warm meals you are looking at some type of system for getting that food warmed up. We have discussed how if the grid goes down how you might find yourself where there is no kitchen to cook your meals. Yes, you can use a fireplace, but what if you don’t have any wood? What if you want to keep your fire smaller to help avoid detection.

This is when knowing how to make a survival stove system can come in handy.There are hundreds of examples of stoves out there. I have a jet-boil, which isn’t really a stove, but I can boil water for soup or cook foods quickly with just a little gas. There is always the rocket stove if you have the time and wood available, but I just found a great tutorial for how to make a small alcohol stove out of two coke cans. If you can’t find two coke cans laying around somewhere you are hurting.

Alcohol stoves use denatured alcohol for fuel and are very common with ultralight backpackers because of the huge weight savings. You can pay a pretty high amount for these stoves, but that isn’t necessary if you have some time and a willingness to try your hand at creating something. These can be made simply with just a couple of tools you may already have and give you an excellent source for cooking or even heat in a pinch.



  1. shane

    July 19, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Great post. I’m surprised there are no comments. Went and got the loose ends I didn’t have. Let you know how it goes.

    • prepperjournal

      July 22, 2013 at 10:07 am

      Thanks Shane, let us know how they turn out.

  2. Anonymous

    July 22, 2013 at 7:56 am

    I made a dozen of those a few years ago. Gave most of them away to friends who are preppers.

    • prepperjournal

      July 22, 2013 at 10:08 am

      Did you find something you like better?

  3. Brian

    July 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I just watched on my I pad I like to see all your short videos and be able to store them on my I pad so if the Internet goes down I still have it on my I pad I really like the coke can stoves

  4. Kathleen

    July 23, 2013 at 12:42 am

    this is so cool and would love to show the boy scouts. But, do you put a small pan or skillet right on the burner or raise it an inch or two.

    • prepperjournal

      July 24, 2013 at 11:17 am


      If you set something directly on top, the vents would be covered. You can either set this stove in the middle of something higher, like rocks on the side or cinder blocks to elevate your cooking dish.

      Optionally, you can use something like a rocket stove that has a surface to set your pot on, but that is a lot bulkier.


  5. Kulade

    July 25, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    i’m planning on making one of these with 2 Foster’s Lager “oil cans”!!! probably be able to cook a pan of spaghetti on the thing!

    • prepperjournal

      July 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

      That would be awesome Kulade! Post a video when you have done that; I’d be curious to see how that works.

  6. Bill

    July 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    shane–I think a water filter system should be #1, knife #2, fire device #3, u are right on great video
    starts u thinking… GREAT

    Bill fm downtown Woodbridge, Va


  7. Ronald Tankersley

    November 5, 2013 at 11:44 am

    can rubbing alcohol be used?

    • prepperjournal

      November 6, 2013 at 8:47 am

      Thanks for stopping by Ron!

      You can, but there are some drawbacks to using this fuel. It is the cheapest, rubbing alcohol is supposed to be dirtier, lower ethyl content and won’t work as well in all stoves plus it leaves residue. I would only use this as a last chance option if possible and spring the extra dollars for HEET which is more pure or Everclear if you have that in the liquor cabinet.

      You can read more about options here http://zenstoves.net/Stoves.htm


  8. Debbie

    December 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I work on a helicopter ambulance. Cannot carry alcohol in my pack in aircraft. Would this stove work w/ jet A fuel retrieved from fuel sump of downed aircraft?

    • Pat Henry

      December 16, 2013 at 6:59 pm

      Excellent question Debbie!

      I don’t have access to avgas or I would be happy to try it out and let you know. My assumption is that it doesn’t burn as slowly or cleanly but I honestly don’t know. Maybe you can get a small amount to take it home and test it. Safely of course…


    • Debbie

      December 17, 2013 at 6:54 pm

      I made one of these, took it to work, & one of the pilots assisted my efforts to test it out using jetA fuel. The jetA was to viscous to enter the “stove”readily thru the 5 holes for that purpose. Also the jetA does not produce vapir well enough to sustain a flame as whwn alcohol is used… back to tje drawing board…

      • Pat Henry

        December 17, 2013 at 8:06 pm

        And now we know! Thanks for sharing that Debbie. Is there nothing like Alcohol in the medical supplies? What about several alcohol wipes stacked together inside the stove?


        • Debbie

          December 17, 2013 at 9:18 pm

          I will have to make another & give that a try. Would I still put the insulation in also? ??

          • Pat Henry

            December 18, 2013 at 8:19 pm

            I would think the wipes themselves would be sufficient to take the place of the insulation, but that would need to be tested.

  9. caleb

    December 23, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Not sure if I spaced out but do you put the same configuration of holes on the bottom as well?

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