Making your own equipment can be very rewarding in terms of low/no budget projects and personal satisfaction. Some equipment technically exceeds our capability to produce, but many items are well within our reach. I enjoy the practice of improvising, especially using “trash”.
When soda can burners became popular I enjoyed constructing various configurations, experimenting with ways to maximize the flame. Around the same time I made slush lamps using different wicks and fuels. Eventually this led to the realization that hand sanitizer contains 62 percent ethyl alcohol and can be used as fuel to cook small amounts of food. You can watch this being demonstrated in my video “Bottle Cap Burner“.
One of the key elements in the hand sanitizer cooking set-up is the need to protect the flame from wind while incorporating a support for the cooking vessel. Because I use a thimble-sized beer bottle cap full of hand sanitizer for a burner, and a Sierra cup for cooking, I find that a “Beanee Weenee” 8 oz. can is just the right size for support. Larger cans work best for larger pans.
To begin constructing a windscreen/pot stand you’ll need to find a can that has lids on both top and bottom as some cans are seamless on the bottom and don’t lend themselves to opening. You can use a conventional crank/rotary type of can opener or a military issue P38. Once the lids are removed a “church key” can opener is used to punch triangular holes along the outside rims on the top and bottom edges. I like to offset the top and bottom holes as I believe that it helps to facilitate the natural vortex created by flames. Different burners may require modifications in order to accommodate their unique features.
Needless to say that wider profile pot stands are more stable than taller ones. Check out my video “2 Minute Stove For $1“. The design of this alcohol burner incorporates a windscreen and pot stand. Because the Soda can has a tall profile, care must be taken when placing cooking vessels on top. This should be placed on a stable – level surface for operation.
So, next time you go shopping, check out the different sizes of canned-goods and imagine what creative pieces of equipment it could make.