Sterno Stove

The Homemade Sterno Stove

It seems that for some reason my posting of the Sterno stove turns out to be quite popular, so I thought I’d give the complete directions on how to make the stove here.


Drill with small and large bit, Measuring tape, Can opener, 1 can of stew or other food product, at least 24oz in size ,1 8oz can of Sterno fuel, 1 box of matches, 1-2 quart saucepan

Not much needed for parts are there? Most of the homemade gizmos I make are made with minimal supplies as they are designed to be built in an emergency out of available material.

Open up the can of stew with the can opener and empty it into the saucepan. I tend to prefer something along the lines of the Sweet Sue brand 24oz chicken and dumplings. Go ahead and throw in a couple of small cans of veggies, like peas and string beans or whatever you have on hand and mix them up. Set this off to one side, and make sure you cover the pan so nothing gets into it, like bits of metal from cutting the can.

Measure the height of the can of Sterno fuel. The holes you make will need to be above that dimension. If you are in an emergency situation, you can make the holes with a hammer and punch, or nail. If you have a good knife on hand you can also use the point to make the holes. However, if you are at home and have power, or a cordless drill, it is easier to drill the holes. It looks better as well.

Drill several pilot holes with a smaller bit, and then go back over them with a larger bit. Make them equidistant for stability. Use a larger bit to remove the burrs by lightly turning the bit in the holes by your fingers. If you have to punch the holes with a nail, hold a rock or other hard object on the inside and use your hammer to smooth the burrs made by the punches

You’ll have to make several holes as Sterno consumes a lot of oxygen as it burns. File or smooth all of the rough edges so that no one will scratch or cut themselves. As an additional safety feature, you can drill four 1/8 inch holes 90 degrees from each other along the bottom edge of the can. Cut a metal coat hanger into equal lengths and pass them through the holes to increase the stability of the stove.

Open the can of Sterno and drop it into the stove, open side up of course. When you are ready to cook, drop a lighted match into the Sterno. Next, place the saucepan on top of the stove, heat, eat and enjoy. To ‘shut’ the fire off, simply drop the Sterno lid onto the can to extinguish. Make sure you wait a sufficient amount of time for it to cool.

When you pack your stove away, a couple of cans of Sterno will fit right inside, but be slightly taller than the stew can, in most cases. You can make a bail out of a piece of hanger or other stiff wire, and hook it into a couple of holes on the stove to keep the cans in place.


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