Recently, a friend turned me onto a sideburner alcohol stove that he bought for camping. It was built from two aluminum beer bottles. The big advantage, he said, was that the stove acts as its own pot stand. One thing that I don’t like is using fiddly pot stands that are common when using homemade pop-can stoves; it seemed like a sideburner solved the problem. I decided to build one and test it out. I choose ZenStove’s Basic SideBurner.
Building a Pop Can Stove
Most pop-can stoves take a few hours to make, but the process seems easy if you’re into do-it-yourself projects. This stove combines three parts. The stove’s main body comes from the bottom of two pop cans. The base measures 20mm high and the top measures 30mm. On the top, the bottom of the can is bored out and you poke 24 evenly spaces holes 15mm down from the top. The holes act as jets which expel vaporized alcohol from the stove. The third part is an inner wall made from a 40mm piece of can. After cutting the pieces, you stretch out the bottom to fit the top.
To assemble, you coat the lip of the stove’s bottom with JB Weld or High-Temp RTV Silicone, slide the two parts together and let the adhesive cure. After about 24 hours, the stove is ready for use. When finished, my stove weighed 0.5 oz., which when combined with my 0.5 oz. windscreen is 1.2 oz. lighter than my Penny Stove lightweight cooking system.
Review of Sideburner Alcohol Stove
For my test, I used a Snow Peak Titanium 34 fl.oz. pot and lid, which has a 5-7/8-inch base. I used 0.8 oz. of denatured alcohol. After lighting the stove, it took about a minute for the jets to light. Because I wasn’t using a priming pan, which is a pan that sits under the stove and helps heat up the stove and alcohol, I needed to blow on the flames to get the jets to light.
After the jets lit, I placed my Snow Peak pot filled with two cups of 65-degree water onto the stove. In just under five minutes, the water came to a rolling boil. The flame went out in seven minutes and 30 seconds. The flames seemed to touch just the corner of my pot, so I suspect I lost some energy up the side between the pot and the windscreen. If I make another version of this stove, I’ll change the jet’s position to 10mm from the top instead of 15mm. That should constrict the flame pattern.
Overall, I like this stover better than the Penny Stove. It doesn’t need the pot stand nor the penny, which simplifies the setup. I’m changing from the Penny Stove to a sideburner for trips where I don’t need simmering. Here’s my new cooking gear weight. With this new alcohol stove, it’s getting pretty light.
Cooking Gear Weight
- 5.8 oz. – Snow Peak 34-fl.oz. Titanium Pot and lid
- 1.0 oz. – Basic Sideburner Stove (0.5 oz. windscreen, 0.5 oz. stove)
- 0.2 oz. – Light My Fire Sporks
- 0.8 oz. – Fuel container (12 oz. soda bottle)
- 7.8 oz. – Total without fuel