Recently there has been quite a few Youtube videos and blog articles going around the camping world on how to make a beer can stove. There are super elaborate models, really simple models and another myriad that fall somewhere in between.
With all the beer can stove makes and models to choose from….which one do you invest a good half hour of your time building?
Well, we put 2 of the most popular beer can stoves to the test. Yes, that’s right, here at HTCO we care enough about you to drink a couple beers and spend a Saturday afternoon lighting stuff on fire…it’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.
This article is not a how-to on buildine one of these stoves. There are multiple other articles out there that go way more in depth into the intricacies of building a beer can stove than we wanted to. But, here are the two beer can stoves that seem to be the most popular.
This beer can stove looks simple enough. All you need is a pocket knife, some alcohol and a beer can and you’re in business! This one makes the cut.
This second beer can stove that we will be reviewing is a bit smaller, but considerably more compact. Plus, the holes around the top make it seem more like a regular gas stove so maybe more conducive to cooking.
The Beer Can Stove Review!
So, now that there are competing beer can stoves, it seems only natural to compare the 2 and see which one comes out as the clear winner.
Beer Can Stove Test #1
The first one we tried out was the taller, simpler version shown in video 1 above
This stove was very easy to make. In fact, it took about 10 minutes to complete, and 5 of those were spent looking for scissors.
The upside to this stove is the amount of fuel that it can hold. You can pretty much fill this up with as much fuel as you want. This beer can stove works by venting the alcohol fumes up the vents you make in the upper can. These fumes burn and thus produce the flames required to cook.
One thing about this beer can stove that was a downside was it’s susceptibility to being blown out by the wind. In the video above they talk about how you can’t just blow this stove out….not entirely true. There was a light 5 mph breeze the day this beer can stove was tried out and it was a pain trying to keep it lit.
The upside though is that once you do have it lit and properly wind blocked, it produces a consistent even flame all around the circumference of the can where your vents are located.
Beer Can Stove Test #2
The second Beer Can Stove to try out was the one shown in video 2.
This stove was a little more difficult to make. It took a little time to poke all the holes around the bottom of the can. Also, a downside to this stove is leftover fuel recovery. In the first beer can stove it was very easy to recover any leftover alcohol, in this one, there is no way to recover it….you just have to let it burn out.
This beer can stove did burn extremely well though. It produced a very consistent flame and burned extremely clean. This one works in the same way as the one above does by burning the actual alcohol fumes that escape, except this one allows them to escape through holes instead of fluted vents.
There were 2 problems with this stove right off the bat:
- There is no way to set a pot or pan directly onto this stove without extinguishing the flame.
- The amount of fuel that this beer can stove can hold is extremely small and does not have the fuel capacity to boil even 2 cups of water.
So with these 2 issues in mind, it was clear that option #1 was clearly the superior beer can stove. But, this review would not be complete without putting this stove to the actual test and seeing if it will boil some water and how quickly.
* In testing out the stoves we used 91% Isopropyl Alcohol, it worked ok, but not great. To really work as intended and to burn hotter and cleaner, 99% would work better.
To test out the stove we filled a pot with 2 cups of tap water.
Like was mentioned above, wind can really be an issue with these stoves. The first couple of tries boiling the water were frustrating because the wind kept extinguishing the flame. To fix this, the stove was placed down into the actual fire pit. (made for a better beer can stove, but worse photos….give and take)
It took about 7 minutes for the water to start boiling. This picture was taken just as the water started to boil. The fuel in the stove lasted for a little over 15 minutes so there would have been plenty of time to rehydrate a meal if need be.
Overall the beer can stove was a success. With that being said though, the design could obviously be tweaked a bit and a better outcome could be produced.
There were a couple things that could make the stove work a bit better:
- Windscreen to protect the flame from being blown out
- Higher percentage alcohol for fuel
Here are a couple more options you can try out as well if you’re interested:
Tetkoba’s Youtube Page (this guy is from Japan and makes some ridiculously elaborate alcohol stoves)
There are also a couple of commercially available alcohol stove like these, lightweight and super affordable:
Experiment with it, have fun and learn something new! That’s what this camping thing is all about!
Have you made your own beer can stove or have a design you’d like to share? Share your beer can stove experiences below!