How to Make a Penny Stove: 6 Steps to Your Own Camp Cooker

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. You can read the full disclosure here.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Campers are very familiar with penny stoves as they come in handy for boiling water and cooking simple meals while in camp sites.

A penny stove is an excellent, light and cheap replacement for other portable and expensive kerosene stoves. It is sometimes called a Pepsi/soda/beer can stove, a pocket size camp stove or a hobo hob. It is easy to make and very light to carry. It is called a penny stove because a penny is used to cover the hole where fuel is poured.

There are just a few things that users need to know about how to make a penny stove.

Materials Used to Make Penny Stoves

Penny can stoves are a perfect alternative for expensive kerosene or propane stoves that hardcore campers use. These alcohol-fueled stoves can be made primarily with items that you have on hand around your house, are easy to make, and can easily fit into your backpack.

In order to make a cheap and simple penny stove one has to prepare the following materials:

  • 2 empty aluminum cans (you may use soda or beer cans)
  • Fiberglass for insulations
  • Lighter
  • A piece of wood
  • Denatured alcohol (found at your local hardware store)
  • Knife
  • Thumb tack
  • Bottle
  • Scissors
  • Hammer
  • ​Sand paper (optional)
  • A flat surface

Procedures for Making a Penny Stove

Here is a video on how to make a penny stove:

With materials you can conveniently get and have at home the steps in making a penny stove is simple and easy.

  • Assemble the materials and tools you have and will need.
  • Cut the bottom off of the cans.
  • Make the burner holes and the fuel drainage hole.
  • Put small vertical slits in the top can or crimp it with pliers.
  • Fill the base can with sand or other soaking material.
  • Fit the 2 cans together and make sure that the stove has a good seal.

How to Use a Penny Stove

To fuel the stove, remove the penny uncovering the center holes. Fill the burner center with denatured alcohol and let it drain into the fuel cup.

Put the penny back in place, fill the cup again and pour some over the jet holes. This will help ignite the stove and get it jetting faster.

Safety measures need to be observed as carelessness in the use of the penny stove can cause fire or burns just like any other stoves. Also a stand is often needed to support and hold whatever cookware you will use.

Problems Encountered with Penny Stoves

It’s true that penny stoves are light and handy but because of these there are also some problems that campers will have when using these penny stoves. Here are some of the things to consider in using penny stoves:

  • You cannot put a large pot on a penny stove without crushing it, as it is made of very light material.
  • They get very hot and needs to be placed on something that will not burn to be used.
  • Penny stoves can get crushed when not placed in a backpack properly.
  • Penny stoves use a lot of fuel.
  • They are very light that they can be easily be blown by the wind.

Precautionary Measures to Observe When Using Penny Stoves

Penny stoves can detonate. The vapor coming out can become dangerous when you do not know how to handle the usage of the penny stoves. Here are some of the things that you should strictly observe and do:

  • Never put or add fuel to a lit stove or while it is still hot.
  • Do not light a stove that is nearly out of fuel. Vaporized fuel lights quickly.
  • Never make the mistake of bringing a saturated stove with fuel near fire.
  • Never bring a stove that has been recently extinguished near a fire.
  • Never pack a stove that still contains fuel.
  • ​Never put anything valuable or your face above the stove while lighting.
  • Do not overfill a stove with fuel.

Penny stoves are cheap, easy to use, very handy to bring along and convenient. Just a word of precaution though, everything that has fuel in them is dangerous. It may result in fire, severe burns, blindness or other destructible things to life and properties if they are used carelessly.