Survival in a Soda Can: Part I

afrankelSurvival, Survival Skills

Did you ever think that you could get several of your survival needs met using a simple soda can? Well, with a little effort and patience, you can create four survival tools from this simple resource.

Tom Brown speaks of the “Sacred Four”: Shelter, Water, Fire, Food. In the following series of articles, I am going to show you how you can cover aspects for three of these four, using just a soda can.

In BOB on a Budget I discussed the importance of being creative with everyday items. Whether you need to save money, or are busy surviving a disaster, the following is a great exercise in just such a thing – as well as in developing your patience. If you are looking for ways to save money on survival gear, building your own stove can be a big cost saver.

In a survival situation, water needs to be purified and food needs to be cooked. The first example will cover the categories of Water and Food by building an Alcohol Stove from a Soda Can.

Soda Can Alcohol Stove

Making a stove out of a soda can has long been a cheap way to make a very light weight backpacking stove. Also known as the “Penny Stove”, this device allows you to cook food and purify water when you have no other means.

You’ll need:

  • 1 Soda Can
  • 1 Box Cutter or Sharp Knife
  • 1 Pair of Gloves or Towel to protect your hands from sharp edges.
  • A blunt object. (Your head does not count.)

Make an alcohol stove:

  1. Place a Box Cutter or Knife horizontally on a thick, sturdy work surface of your choosing.
  2. Place the Soda Can bottom down on the work surface and bring it into contact with the blade’s tip.
  3. With gentle force, pierce the can and slowly rotate it on the blade’s tip until the bottom 1/2 inch or so has been cut from the rest of the can.
  4. Turn the can over and bring it to the blade’s tip as before. Careful, the cut edge is sharp.
  5. With gentle force, puncture the can and slowly rotate it until the top of the can has been cut from the remnants.
  6. Place the top of the soda can on a piece of wood or rough surface, cut edge down. With just a small amount of pressure, begin to rotate the top of the can against the rough surface. Two revolutions should be plenty.
  7. Place the bottom of the soda can on the wood or rough surface cut edge down. Using the amount of pressure, begin to rotate it against the rough surface for two revolutions.
  8. Join the two halves by feeding the top half into the bottom half.
  9. Set the can bottom side down against your work surface. Using your blade and the blunt object, puncture holes every quarter of an inch along the beveled top of the can all the way around. Just use the blade tip… the holes don’t need to be very large.
  10. Fill ½” deep with alcohol and light. Wait 60 seconds.
  11. Flames should pour out of the holes you punctured in the top. Place a metal container on top to begin cooking or heating water.


You have a stove.

Part II will address starting a fire.


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