DIY Solid Fuel Camp Stoves

Written by kevin ann reinhart
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DIY Solid Fuel Camp Stoves
A one-gallon tin can be easily transformed into a camp stove. (tin image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from

Solid fuel camp stoves can be made quickly and easily using materials you already may have at your campsite. The solid fuel may be a commercially-produced hexamine fuel tablet or a make-it-yourself buddy burner All materials are lightweight and therefore suitable for a solo backpacker who needs a simple, one-person cooking system. Hexamine, invented in Murrhardt, Germany in 1932, has a high energy density, does not liquefy while burning and leaves no ashes behind. The buddy burner uses corrugated cardboard and paraffin wax.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tin can, one gallon size
  • Can opener
  • Tin snips
  • Can punch
  • Gloves
  • Hexamine tablets
  • Waterproof bags
  • Tin can, shallow (canned tuna- or salmon-sized)
  • Scissors
  • Paraffin wax
  • Small pot
  • Four six-inch nails
  • Matches

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  1. 1

    Remove the top of the gallon-sized tin can using your can opener.

  2. 2

    Put on your safety gloves and slice a three-inch by three-inch hinged section downward from the open end of the can.

  3. 3

    Bend the cut section out, leaving it attached to the can.

  4. 4

    Punch two or three holes directly opposite the hinged door using your can punch. The door and holes will provide ventilation for your solid fuel.

  1. 1

    Place a hexamine heat tablet into a small, empty tuna or salmon can.

  2. 2

    Strike a match to light the tablet.

  3. 3

    Place your vagabond stove, open end down, over your burning tablet. Your pot will rest on the closed end of your gallon can.

  1. 1

    Cut your corrugated cardboard into strips that are slightly thinner than the depth of a small, empty tuna or salmon can.

  2. 2

    Coil the strips and place them into the can.

  3. 3

    Melt paraffin wax and pour it over the cardboard. Allow to harden.

  4. 4

    Light your cardboard/paraffin fuel with a match. Place the vagabond stove, open end down, over your burner. Your cooking pot or pan will rest atop the inverted vagabond stove.

Tips and warnings

  • Drive four six-inch nails into the ground to use as a pot rest if you do not have the material to fashion a vagabond stove. You may need to pile stones around your heat source to shield the flame from the wind.
  • Your buddy burner may be prepared at home before you set out on your trip.
  • Hexamine tablets are available at your local camping supply store.
  • Hexamine gives off an odour and may leave a film on your cooking pot. Cover your food while cooking with hexamine and wipe your pot on the grass to remove any residue.
  • Carry hexamine tablets in a waterproof bag, separated from your food and matches.

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