Sunday, May 17, 2015

Make Your Own Gear: "Super Cat" stove

I'll bet you guys haven't seen enough stoves yet, have you? If $6-8 and 3.7oz is too decadent for you, then find a cat to feed, pick up a 3.5oz can of cat food, a hole punch and a bottle of HEET. Should run about $3-4 total at wal-mart. I followed the directions here, which really couldn't be simpler. Just punch a ring of holes spaced about the size of a hole apart below the lip, and then punch a second ring of them offset

And that's pretty much... it. the stove is ready. Fill it to just below your second line of holes with alcohol. I picked up a bottle of HEET to be my fuel, but you can use other alcohol sources if you find them cheaper. 

I lit it with a match, and it was hard to tell, at first, if it was lit at all. This is not a stove for the careless, clumsy or uncautious. The page that I was following directions from suggested keeping your pot off until it warms up, but I found that it seemed to work better if I had the pot on top from the start. It boiled water in an acceptable amount of time, filling it to the second line of punches seemed to be enough fuel to get the water to a rolling boil, and it was almost out of fuel when I took the pot off. 

Now, it might just be the bottom of my pot, or that this was the first burn from the stove, but the stove didn't want to let go of the pot when I first went to take it off. Second, this also seems to be a case where you'd want a pot, and a separate pot lifter, the integrated handles on my titanium pot got pretty hot from the flames licking them. Third, if you were preparing a knorr meal with this, you'd probably find yourself having to refuel at least once, if not twice. If all you're doing is boiling water for a bag meal though, you'll be fine. Fourth, I made the mistake of testing it on the barbeque grill. Figured if anything went wrong it could burn safely in there. Well, I couldn't use my 5oz can to snuff it out at the end since it was on the bars. Fortunately it burned itsself out in short order. One good thing about the limited fuel supply. You'll also benefit from using a lighter rather than a box of matches.

So what's the verdict? This stove is as light and as cheap as you can practically get. The fuel is abundant and inexpensive, and you can even use everclear/moonshine if you want your fuel supply to double as a luxury item (though that'll cost a lot more) (also, don't drink HEET). It gets the job done with a minimum of cost and weight. I can see why the toothbrush-drilling crowd loves them. Personally, I think I'm going to stick with my $6 canister stove or my biolite as my first choice in stoves. I might try doing a version of this on the 5oz can, using a wider pot, see if that burns longer.

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