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Home Bushcraft Kit / Reviews How to make a Pop Can Meths Stove

How to make a Pop Can Meths Stove

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P1018575 (Custom)

Pop Can Meths Stove

Things you will need:

1.    2x empty pop cans (250ml or 500ml)

2.    Craft knife

3.    Ruler (preferably metal)

4.    Scissors

5.    Pliers (preferably needle-nose)

6.    Plastic topped drawing pin

7.    Cutting board/surface

8.    Aluminium tape (preferable but optional)

P1018540 (Custom)

Disclaimer: Before you start, please note that you will be dealing with a sharp knife, flamable chemicals and fire, do not attempt this on your own if you are a child, seek help from an adult. Do not try this indoors, if you get it wrong meths could easily leak and fire could spread rapidly so only test/use the stove outdoors away from anything that could catch on fire.

Step 1: Cutting the two halves for your stove.

Rest your craft knife on a roll of tape (or a flat surface of similar height), and press the can gently against the blade. Slowly turn the can, maintaining the pressure against the blade, until you have scored a ring around the entire circumference of the can. Continue this process, until you have gone over the scored line two or three times.

P1018542 (Custom)

Carefully push the point of the knife through the line that you have scored. Then, using your thumbnail, press on the edge of the scored line nearest the centre of the can, and the can should neatly tear along the line you have scored, separating the bottom of the can with a nice clean edge.

Repeat this process with the other can. Do not discard the middle section of the can, as we will need this part too.

P1018545 (Custom)


Step 2: The top half of the stove

Take one of the halves that you have cut for the top of your stove. Score around the inside rim of the base. The metal on the base is considerably thicker than the sides, so you need to go around the edge a good half dozen times before you attempt to remove the centre.

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Again, push your knife through the scored line, and then simply push down on the internal edge and the centre piece should just tear away along the line you've created. At this stage, you could give the edges a quick rub down with some course sandpaper to make sure they're not sharp, but unless you plan on sticking your fingers in your stove a lot, it's by no means essential.

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The next step is to make the flame vents around the rim of the stove. Take your plastic topped drawing pin, and make a hole approximately half-way down the sloping rim of the can. Make the next hole at the same level, but directly opposite on the circumference.

P1018560 (Custom)

The next hole goes in the middle between these two (on both sides), and so on, until you have a total of sixteen evenly placed holes around the circumference of your can.

P1018562 (Custom)

The top section is now complete, so you can put it to one side for now.


Step 3: The internal fuel chamber

Take one of the sections of the pop cans that we had left over from Step 1, and remove the top the same way as we removed the bottom in Step 1. This will leave you with a cylinder of can.

P1018552 (Custom)

With your scissors, cut this cylinder along the seam, and flatten it out into a sheet.

P1018553 (Custom)

Using your craft knife or scissors, square off the two long sides, as they can sometimes be a little uneven after removing the top and bottom of the can.

P1018554 (Custom)

You now need to make an educated guess about the height of your finished stove. To do this, measure one of your halves (they should both be about the same height), adding about 10-15mm (half an inch), to this measurement. Then cut your flat sheet of can to this height (measured on the short edge).

P1018555 (Custom)

Next, take your pliers and crimp the entire outer edge of the bottom section of the stove. This allows you to push the two halves together at the next stage.

P1018557 (Custom)

Roll the flat sheet into a cylinder, so that it sits neatly in the recess in the base of your can bottom.

P1018556 (Custom)

You now need to cut four small slots in the bottom of this cylinder (keeping it at the diameter you just established). Bending back the little tabs this creates, will help to keep the cylinder in shape. These allow the fuel to get to the external chamber of the stove.

P1018558 (Custom)

Then replace the cylinder in the base, and being careful to locate the top of the cylinder in its equivalent position, press the top of the stove down over the base and into position.

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You could call your stove finished at this point, and I have used them successfully in at this stage. However, to really finish it off, I like to seal the join between the two halves of the stove with aluminium sticky tape (can be found at most large hardware stores), to prevent any leakage of fuel from the joins. Once this is done, your stove is ready to go!

P1018565 (Custom)


Step 4: Lighting and using your new stove.

This may seem fairly simple, and in fact it is, but I thought it best to include some basic information to get you started if you're not familiar with alcohol based stoves.


These stoves run on denatured alcohol. In the UK we use Methelated Spirits or ‘Meths', a clean burning purple liquid. The main drawback with this type of fuel is that because it burns so cleanly, it is sometimes difficult to see if the stove is lit at all in daylight (the stove below is lit).

P1018570 (Custom)

This is probably the cause of most accidents with this type of stove, so be aware.

Filling and lighting

Because these stoves cannot be extinguished once lit, it is useful to get an idea of how much burn time you get from filling your stove by varying amounts. Only experience will tell you this, but to begin with don't over fill your stove. You can always re-fill and light it again to finish what you're doing. Don't fill these stoves past the level of the vent holes in the sides, even though your internal chamber comes right to the top. This will turn your stove into a ball of flame!

These stoves can be lit with a lighter, but because of the downward angle (causing burnt fingers), I prefer to light mine with a ferrosteel. Just remember, pull the steel away from the striker, don't push the striker down the steel, or you'll send the stove and possibly flaming meths everywhere!

Be careful when checking if you are lit.


These stoves need to be primed. That is to say, they need to be lit and then allowed to reach the correct temperature before you attempt to cook on them. Failure to get this right will usually result in you putting the stove out with your pan (not the end of the world, but it can cause frustration until you're used to it). Wait for the uneven flame to change to small jets coming from the holes around your stove, and for the meths in the centre chamber to come to the boil.

P1018575 (Custom)


These are a very flexible little stove. They can be used in conjunction with most Hobo stove and Trangia stove setups. I have a small one that sits in the base of my Crusader Cup cook system and also fits neatly into my Hobo stove turning it into a multi-fuel.

However, with the addition of a small wind shield (easily made from more aluminium tape), you can place your pan directly on top of these stoves (once primed), removing the need for any other system. This is an extremely light weight cook system, weighing only grams (ounces).

Pros and cons

The up-side of these stoves are as follows:

1.    Very light/small

2.    Very cheap to make

3.    No moving parts

4.    Easily sourced materials

5.    Cheap to run (and de-natured alcohol is easily available worldwide)

6.    Easy to light

7.    Clean burning

The down-side of these stoves are as follows:

1.    Slow cook times (if you're in a hurry)

2.    Uncontrollable cooking temperature (you only get the one setting...on!)

3.    Easily crushed if not protected

4.    Not posh ‘branded' kit (unless you include the brand ‘Pepsi')

5.    Once you start making them, you end up making them for all your mates too!

Disclaimer: Before you start, please note that you will be dealing with a sharp knife, flamable chemicals and fire, do not attempt this on your own if you are a child, seek help from an adult. Do not try this indoors, if you get it wrong meths could easily leak and fire could spread rapidly so only test/use the stove outdoors away from anything that could catch on fire.


Comments (18)
18 Tuesday, 25 August 2015 20:34
Walter White
Can please do meth tutorial now. ty
17 Friday, 24 April 2015 06:07
Stephen King
I used one of these recently on my first ever overnight camping trip. 3 night kayak camping trip on the Murray backwaters. The rest of the group had a "name brand" trangia spirit stove. Mine took up much less space, with the burner stored in a saucepan with soft items for transportation. I made a base from 3 thin metal plates approx 20 x 6 cm, with slots cut into them, so that they click together into a triangle.
16 Sunday, 02 June 2013 14:13
Joel Keen
Great tutorial!


15 Sunday, 03 February 2013 08:19
R Hall
You can have TWO settings by using the opened ring pull end as a simmer ring.
14 Friday, 17 August 2012 22:58
What a fantastic stove !! took me 30 mins to make, and the heat produced from this little thing is incredible ! thank you
13 Saturday, 28 January 2012 23:45
Wow this stove is awesome. Great article!
12 Monday, 19 December 2011 23:18
Just had a go at making this. Very pleased.

At first the 'jets' did not catch light, but after I made the holes bigger (so that they looked like those in the picture) it worked well
11 Thursday, 15 December 2011 02:35
My stove doesn't wanna prime....can't figure out why
10 Wednesday, 23 November 2011 08:46
chav dude
one of the comments on here says you can use either petrol or oil in this stove...can anyone confirm this?

Both petrol and oil (kerosene) are cheaper and burn longer than meths, so it would be nice if yes you could use them
9 Monday, 29 August 2011 13:37
Gavin_in Oz
Took me about 15 min to make one. I made the flame holes too small at first then opened them up a little and it worked great.
Not sure when I would use it as I either use my trangia or an open fire, depending if its fire ban season or not.
Great idea, love this type of ingenuity.
8 Thursday, 16 June 2011 08:45
What a brilliant piece of kit. I have never even thought about making one of these and have had a Trangia for years. Can't imagine seeing Ray Mears making one but to me this level of ingenuity and application is what bushcraft is all about.
7 Thursday, 19 May 2011 15:54
spent the lat 30 mins making this and the last hour in the garden making cheese on toast and tea haha. little tip - used straightened out a coat hanger cut in half and bent in the right places to brace a mess tin over the burner and thats working a treat. nice easy light with the fire steel, good guide!
6 Friday, 11 March 2011 16:54
Adam Savage
Just made one myself, ran it on cheapo mienralised meths from the diy store and it works perfectly, once primed I just popped the billy straight on top of the stove and within minutes she was bubbling away. simple AND effective, my favourite kind
5 Saturday, 15 January 2011 03:37
Just finished making one of these and have been having a bit of trouble. I've been trying to use regular isopropyl alcohol. Does this not burn the same as denatured alcohol? I am getting a primary flame, but even after five min., I am not getting any flames from the burner holes.
4 Sunday, 27 June 2010 00:26
Kevin S
Just finished making one today works great, Nice alternative to those expensive store bought stoves!
3 Wednesday, 10 February 2010 20:48
i made one of theese today and it worked brilliant.
also you can use other fuels like petrol and oil in this burner. :)
2 Saturday, 30 January 2010 20:06
paul neale
great instructions,i made one of these today and it works great! it seems to boil water faster than my trangia and weighs almost nothing, i used another can base as a snuffer and works well.not worried about strength as it stores inside my mug nicely,nice easy project.smells of guinness though. :-)
1 Monday, 11 January 2010 17:43
If you want to improve your priming, try to wrap a wick three/four times and stove and put some drops of fuel on it and light it. It will reduce the priming time considerably!

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