Roaring Fire

Coffee Can Hobo Stove

Stoves and cooking are two things I love. Maybe I’m just a pyromaniac foodie at heart. After several alcohol stoves, esbit stoves and my Jetboil with modifications, I decided it was time to make a wood burning hobo stove. I had a empty coffee can saved up just for this project and decided it was finally time. Enough jiba jabba lets get to building!

Roaring Fire
Roaring Fire

Coffee Can
Coffee Can

The first thing you will need to do this project is an empty coffee can. Use the big metal ones. I bought it in this container for this project. Drink all the coffee in it. Hopefully spread out over a few weeks.

Marking the can
Marking the can

Next I used a sharpie to mark around the can where I wanted to drill the holes. I put the point of the marker inside one of the can ridges and turned the can. After marking it I used a center punch to make starting duvets so my drill bit wouldn’t skate around on the metal.

Drilling the starter holes
Drilling the starter holes

I used my Dremel drill press to make the starter holes. You can do it without one but it sure makes it easy. A full sized drill press would be even better, just not apartment friendly. My workshop is in my living room after all. Life of a bachelor.

Bigger holes
Bigger holes

Once I had my piliot holes I used my cordless drill and the 1/2 inch drill bit to make the holes the size I wanted.

Marking holes for the pot holders
Marking holes for the pot holders

Next I marked four more spots, this time on the top of the can, where I will run my pot holders through. After marking them I drilled them out on the Dremel. These holes will remain small.

Coat hanger pot stands
Coat hanger pot stands

I cut two coat hangers to make my pot holders. I put the in and tested the fit with a pot on them. They hold great and fit perfectly inside the holes drilled.

Cutting the front door
Cutting the front door

I marked a spot on the can to cut out for an opening to feed wood into. The dremel made easy work of this task.

 

 

 

I made a stand to place an alcohol stove right below a pot inside the stove. This video shows the results. I forgot my stove was designed to have a pot placed directly on top. With a gap between the stove and pot my flame went crazy and the jets never really engaged. Also it burnt threw all the fuel quickly. I got really hot water but not quiet a boil. With a different alcohol stove this would be more efficient.

Loaded with wood
Loaded with wood

Now time for the moment of truth. Will this simple design work? I gathered some twigs of various sizes and dryness. Most of it was dry but I tossed in some damper material as well. This is a test after all.

Vaseline Cotton Ball
Vaseline Cotton Ball

I used my favorite tinder, Vaseline soaked cotton balls, to start the fire. I added a few tiny dry twigs on top of the cotton ball. The fire quickly took off on its own though.

Roaring Fire
Roaring Fire

It fire really got pretty big. After an initial smoking it burned mostly smokeless.

Pot on the Stove
Pot on the Stove

I added a cheap empty can pot with water to get it to a boil. I forgot to add a bail to the pot though and ended up having to use two sticks as tongs.

Rolling Boil
Rolling Boil

Getting to a rolling boil took longer than I expected. I forgot to make a lid for it which hurt the time. Maybe ten minutes or so. However I only used the fuel that I loaded it with so a handful or two. That I picked up off the ground and did not carry in with me.

This is one project I call a huge success. The only thing I might add would be a few more air holes. Maybe because it seemed like it might not have been getting enough air but performed great regardless. If you want a cheap/ free bushcraft stove this is the way to go. Plus you get coffee out of this project. So get to your shop and get to making!

Whats your favorite stove for camping/ survival? What fuel does it use? Let me know in the comments!

 



   
       

20 thoughts on “Coffee Can Hobo Stove

  1. Have you noticed most coffee doesn’t come in metal cans anymore? Something else to keep when you get them.
    I don’t have a favorite camping stove. I actually like cooking right on the fire with a small grill.

  2. This is always a great idea. That type of stove is something I made quite often in the Boy Scouts years ago in Cunningham, TN. A lot of time with tinsnips and a pointed bottle opener factored into each prep time for outings.

    My fire-starters were made from dryer lint that I placed in paper egg cartons and paraffin poured over them. Once they cooled I would cut each egg cup out and store them in a Ziploc.

  3. I too am a lover of camp stoves and food. I have my jetboil cooking kit, a stratus trailstove, a trangia alcohol stove, and woodgas campstove. Thanks for the easy hobo stove instructions!

  4. I usually get my cans at costco. I use to get from the kidney beans can but they now put it in small cans. Now I just use the cheese sauce cans which are #10’s I believe.

    Good post tho…..

  5. My son was tinkering around after seeing one of those rocket stoves you can buy, and decided to make his own. If someone gives you one of those Christmas Popcorn cans as a gift, give that stuff to the birds and squirrels. Then you cut out the side toward the bottom, cut off a piece of one of those wire shelfs to fit into the hole, drill holes around the bottom like James’ stove, then add twigs or charcoal to the rack s air can get under it and up through the top.
    I wish he’d taken pics of it i could show, but i;m sure we’ll get another chance next month as we’ll probably get a couple more of them to use. He fried 4 eggs and 3 slices of bacon on one handfull of twigs, but not sure how much water it would have boiled. Next test will tell.
    Your stove is alot more handy in a pinch and easier to make in an emergency and i like that!

  6. In your first pictue, you did not clean around where you set your little stove can and you had alot of fuel in that small can. In West Texas that would have caused a fire outside of your stove.

  7. Nice! I have “macguyver practice” on my agenda today and a soup can stove is on the docket. I like your design for sure! I’m thinking that coffee cans are made a little flimsier than I remember. I made a pot from one to melt wax for fire starters, and while not a ‘fail’ I should have used a No. 10. Guess its off to Sam’s for a bucket o’ pudding!

  8. If you find you need a #10 can,or several, try asking a Domino’s Pizza to save one for you from their morning prep! I used to work there, and made several “Billy Can Coffee Pots” for my apartment dwelling friends.

    I even made a glass pack muffler from a half dozen cans that held sauce! I still get a giggle from thinking what the muffler guy said when he replaced that 5 years later!

  9. Yes, #10 cans are indeed excellent receptacles for the “hobo stove” as are CLEAN NEW paint cans(my personal choice) and available from Home Depot very reasonably priced, too.
    I made hobo stoves for each of the adult children and each of the grand kids to use for last Christmas’s “Gift of Preparedness” pack we gave.

    1. What a great Christmas idea! You are right you can get empty metal paint cans that work great and usually have wire handles on them too. I just happen to drink a ton of coffee so I have to do something with all the cans lol

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