Monday, November 26, 2018

Apocalypse Builds: #10 Can Stove

It's after the apocalypse, and you've reached your bug out location and you're sitting around, waiting for the zombies to eat you. Your pork and beans deluxe (now without long pig!) is ready to eat straight out of the can.

You get out your handy dandy P38 can opener and you open the can. Using your tactical spork, you dig in.. and realize that it would really taste better hot. You need a way to heat it up, so you quickly empty a can of freeze dried beef chunks into a gallon ziploc bag, and you make a stove using your handy dandy pocket knife.

Wait, what?
A #10 can stove (sometimes called a hobo stove) is a super easy to make emergency stove. All it requires is a #10 can (think coffee can) and a pocket knife. You can make it with all sorts of fancy features and tools, but at its core, all you need is a pocket knife and a can.

If you want to make it easy on yourself and you have onet on hand, you can use a “church key” style can opener. Tin snips and  a pair of pliers are useful, but not actually needed. 

Note: This is not a number 10 rocket stove. That is a different thing.

Building a #10 Can Stove
  1. The can should have one open end (this will be the bottom) and one closed end (the top and cooking area). 
  2. Place the open end on the ground.
  3. Use the can opener or pocket knife to cut holes below the closed top, evenly spaced along the sides. I prefer eight holes of about a half inch diameter each.
    • If in doubt, cut fewer holes, since you can make more fairly easily.
    • Don’t cut away the metal! If you need to, you can adjust the air flow by bending the metal back in. 
  4. Using the pocket knife, score a spot on the can about one quarter of the way up from the open end (aka the bottom).
  5. Cut down from that spot to the open end.
  6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 at a distance of about 1/4 the height of the can between cuts.  
  7. Fold the "flap" of metal out of the way.  
  8. Place fuel into the stove using that hole. 
  9. Light it.

But why not just build a fire?
In my experience a #10 can stove works just as well as an open fire, and it also keeps the fuel relatively dry and hot. The can forms both a cooktop and a chimney, and allows you to burn a variety of fuels. I especially like it for burning things like fuel tabs with random brush piled on top when it is wet (or the brush is damp). It dries things off quickly, and keeps the fire manageable.

In a pinch, you can even make these out of soup cans; they just have less capacity, and don’t get as hot. 

If you have made a couple of these, you can experiment with the chimney design so that it still flows well, but smokes less.

I made one with nothing but a leatherman multitool, and it worked great. I had cooked eggs in about 10 minutes from a dead start with a cast-iron pan.

As always, don’t forget to practice.

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