The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering, and Cooking in the Wild - Dave Canterbury (2016)

Part IV. Emergency Cooking

Chapter 22. Making a Stove

“To me, unconventional thinking is approaching a problem and asking, ‘Why not? Why can’t something be done?’ If someone can’t give me a good reason why you can’t do something, I find a way to do it.”

—Eli Broad

Some of the best emergency stoves are made with natural materials that you may find around you. For example, a rocket stove can be made with a single log.

Making a Rocket Stove

A rocket stove is basically a portable stove you can build that will burn small-diameter wood and create a nice hot fire (hotter than a typical campfire). Fuel is burned in a chimney that directs the flames to the cooking surface.

The secret to the rocket stove is to create draw when air is lifted from below the fire up through the food on the cooking surface. A rocket stove can be built below ground, above ground, or made portable.

All rocket stoves require three components:

·        Draft vent

·        Feed tray

·        Chimney

You can create the stove with pipe, cans, rocks, cinderblocks, bricks, or any other material that can be stacked. It can also be created from a single log with 2 holes bored into L fashion. See Figure 22.1.

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Figure 22.1 Rocket stove

Swedish Fire Torch

The Swedish fire torch is quick to make for a single use and very effective. Start with a bucked hardwood log that is fairly dry, about 10–12" diameter. Using an axe and mallet or a wedge, split the log into quarters. Place the quarters standing in a ring. Build a small fire in the center. This will work in a similar manner to the rocket stove, but the inner dry log will burn and you can place pots or pans on top for cooking. See Figure 22.2.

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Figure 22.2 Swedish fire torch

Can Lamp Stove

To make a can lamp stove using a #10 can (this is a large can that can hold about a gallon), cut the can down till it’s about 4" in height. Fill it with cooking oil or lard to about 3". Take some wire and create stands for multiple wicks of natural material. (Inner bark cordage will work in an emergency.) Four wicks should be enough. Place them in the bottom of the can. Let them absorb oil and then light them. Add a couple small 1⁄2"-diameter sticks on the outer edge to create air space and place the cook pot on the top. This method will not be as fast as many fuels but will work in an emergency. See Figure 22.3.

9781440598524 Can Lamp Stov

Figure 22.3 Can lamp stove

Double Can Stoves

These stoves can be made from 2 cans with few supplies. Not all aluminum cans are created equal. The cans should be free of dents or dings when you start; the heavier the material the better. The advantage to a stove like this is the flame can be controlled if you have made a simmer ring (heat diffuser). The fuel it will burn comes in many forms, even grain alcohols, and it is very lightweight to carry.

1.    Poke holes along the bottom edge of one opened can. About 12–16 holes will do the trick.

2.    Cut out the bottom of this can. (At this point, the top and bottom of the can should have been removed.)

3.    Cut the can down to about 3⁄4" in height. This is the stove top.

4.    Snip the edges of the stove top to form several tabs.

5.    Cut the second can down to about 1" in height. This is the stove bottom.

6.    Cut an inner wall from the leftover can material. Do this by cutting a strip about 11⁄3" wide.

7.    Notch the ends of the inner wall, cutting halfway through the strip from the top on one side and halfway through the strip from the bottom on the other. Then the ends will hook together and fit inside the stove bottom.

8.    Cut 3 notches, evenly spaced, around one edge of the inner wall strip. Place the inner wall, notches down, inside the stove bottom. Place the stove top on, bending the tabs slightly so they fit inside the stove bottom.

9.    For a permanent bond, use a high-temperature tape to keep the top and the bottom securely connected.

10.Create a pot stand to hold the cook pot over the flames. A piece of wire mesh placed over a ring of metal will serve.

To use the stove, pour denatured alcohol into the stove. Filling it about halfway will give you a burning time of about 10 minutes. Then light the fuel. The flame will be difficult to see, so listen carefully to hear it ignite. If the tape catches fire, don’t worry. Just let the fuel burn off. See Figure 22.4.

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Figure 22.4 Double can stove

Tips and Tricks

·        In an emergency, you can make a stove out of just about anything! The key is to understand what a fire needs (heat, oxygen, and fuel) and to identify items in the environment that can serve these purposes.

·        Stoves can sometimes be used where campfires are prohibited, so they make a handy alternative.

·        Remember, never cook on a camp stove indoors (inside a cabin, inside a tent). Always go outside to cook.

·        On windy days, building a shield with aluminum foil can help keep your flame from flickering out.

·        Never leave a camp stove unattended.