Scott’s Pepsi-G Stove

If you’ve ever backpacked any distance you’ll appreciate the need to reduce weight, taken to its logical extreme by the sort of folks who cut their toothbrushes in half. This ultra-light subculture, to our benefit, seems to be populated by engineering types who like to create useful lists and detailed instructions. And, even if you don’t backpack, these innovative ideas can be used in your emergency preparedness plans.

One of my favorite ultra-light backpacking gadgets is the Pepsi can stove, which has reappeared on the interwebs, after a prolonged absence, here.

To make a Pepsi stove you take the bottom of a 12 oz Pepsi can and the bottom of a Guinness Draught can and, after a series of precise cuts and pin pricks you end up with a nifty cooking stove that uses denatured alcohol or methanol (both easily obtained at any hardware store) as fuel.

Efficiency-wise, if you consider the ratio of weight to heat output, you’re better off with a commercial backpacking stove and fuel canisters. But such stoves are expensive and the fuel canisters are only available at camping and sporting goods stores. The nice thing about the Pepsi can stove is that it’s almost free to make and you can find the fuel at any hardware store. I keep both a Pepsi can stove and a MSR backpacking stove in my backpack. That way I’ve got a backup in case one fails to work.

Mrs. Homegrown here:

I thought I’d toss in a little more detail for those of you unfamiliar with the concept. A Pepsi can stove is tiny and very light weight, good for two things–ultralight backpacking and as a simple cooking device for what some people call a bug out bag–emergency gear that is ready to grab and go.

I’ve taken one with me backpacking, as my only stove. It works fine, but it is limited in its capabilities. It can boil a cup or so of water at a time, enough to make one person a hot drink, or enough water to rehydrate a pouch of something. You certainly can’t make pancakes over one, and if you have a family to serve, you might want to consider carrying more than one of these stoves.

My camping set up included the stove, a sawed off Foster’s can (you know, those extra large beer cans) as a cooking pot, a circle of chicken wire to balance the Foster’s can upon over the stove, and a bit of foil to block wind. It all tucked inside the Foster’s can for transport and weighted hardly anything. Oh, and I kept the fuel in one of those plastic collapsible water bottles.

As Erik says, a lightweight camping stove and proper fuel canister is a much more flexible and powerful option, but little Pepsi can stoves can’t be beat for price or weight.

Here’s our 2006 post on the same subject–along with a nice photo of ours burning.

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5 Comments

  1. One night, I read about these for hours and watched endless videos. It was a fascinating concept, to say the least. They are not something I could make, ever. The precision with which they are described and the tools sometimes prescribed are mind bogging. Okay, so don’t listen to too many people at once? One backpacker even drilled holes in his toothbrush to reduce weight. Some of these little stoves had been sanded to remove the name on the can. Yes, that was one of the steps. They shone like they were polished.

  2. I started to make one of these for the bug out box, but haven’t finished it yet because I got intimidated by it.

    I once made a stove out of tuna cans with a fiberglass insulation wick, and that worked pretty well- if I don’t get the pepsi can stove figured out and accomplished, I may re-try the tuna can stove. Gotta have a stove for the bug out box- it’s the only thing it doesn’t have.

  3. Kelly kettles (aka volcano kettle, eydon kettle, etc etc) are great.

    I’ve got one, and though it’s obviously way bigger than a Pepsi stove, I didn’t have to construct it…

    They boil water extremely fast with a handful of twigs (rocket stove principle) and you can get extras to heat food on them.

    I’d like to have a go at making a Pepsi stove, though, just to say I can!

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