Aluminium can stove photograph
Firstly I know my North American readers will say you spelled it wrong, and while you may be right in that in your area its spelled aluminum. But according to IUPAC its been officially Aluminium for the last 15 or so years.
We are of course talking about the 13th element on the periodic table witch has low density and low corrosion rate due to its propensity to form a protective oxide layer.
Aluminium will however corrode markedly if it is left in a salty environment such as a salt spray zone near an ocean or salty lake.
I should talk more extensively about Aluminium as a material at a later date.
We live in a throw away society where things are made to be used once and then destined to become land fill. The humble aluminium can is one such product.
However we can change the game and turn a low cost one use item into something much more useful and possibly life saving depending on the situation.
Water is of course essential for life, 3 days without water and its likely that you will be dead, close to dead, or if miraculously resuced at the last minute you may suffer from life long health effects.
Water is a great mobilizer of materials and living things some of these living things will be very harmful if you drink them.
If you find water of unknown quality you will need to be cautious.
Straining water even with a cotton shirt will remove most suspended material (dirt etc) but will not kill pathogens.
Boiling water after it has been strained will kill most pathogens and make water much safer to drink.
It not appropriate or possible to make a fire in ever possible location you might be so a small cooker is a great option to have.
You could buy a propane/butane gas cooker but they are expensive by comparison require large gas canisters and are in themselves somewhat bulky and fragile.
So there is a niche for a cheap to make cheap to run cooker for boiling water or cooking food.
I made an awesome info-graphic and I’ll add it here. it may be better to download the image or open it is a separate window to see it in its full glory.
It described the manufacture of one of many designs of the aluminium can stove.
Aluminium can stove info graphic
1-Remove all of the paint from the can with sandpaper.
2-Empty the can.
3-Put holes into top section. (thumb tack or drill)
4-Cut out the circular section around the ring pull. (razor blade)
5-Cut into 3 sections. (razor blade or tin snips)
6-Cut center section.(razor blade or tin snips)
7-Flange out the sharp edge bottom section slightly. (screwdriver shaft)
8-(optional) add glass wool between bottom and center sections.
9-Put top section inside bottom section.
this stove runs best from pure alcohol.
Pure alcohol is quite hard to obtain. the pureset from of alcohol is methylated spirts.
methylated spirts is about 96-99% Alcohol.
the rest (1 -4%) is made up other impurities (like methanol) so that is is toxic and/or unplesant to drink.
Methlyated spirits is quite cheap at about $2-3 per litre making this a very economical fuel.
pour fuel into the center section of the stove and light.
it may be easier to light the stove with a match or piece of paper or dry grass rather than a lighter.
during day time the flame may be difficult to see.
once light the stove cannot be easily extinguised and the flame heat is not adjustable.
Different sotves produce different ammounts of heat and this may be a way of controlling heat.
multiple stoves may be used together to produce more heat.
Why is this item important.
It shows that useful things can be made from commonly available low cost items.
It introduces people to making things for themselves.
In many situations the ability to boil water to sterilise it maybe a life saving device.
Aluminium does not readily corrode except for in a very salty environment.
(such as in the salt spray zone of beaches)
Aluminium may begin to corrode when place in contact with other metals for extended periods of time.
Aluminium melts at 660C, so its unlikely to melt during normal operation.
the thickness of Aluminium in cans makes them quite fragile.
A sturdy container is recomended to prevent the stove being crushed in a backpack.
there are many alternative designs to the can stove.
For some people constructing these is a serious hobby.