Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Home Made Sterno Burner

I remember when I was little, my mom made 72-hr kits for us.  Part of that kit was a homemade can of sterno.  This is super easy to make- stores forever, virtually indestructible, self contained, safe and it's waterproof!  All you need is:

  1. Tuna can
  2. Cardboard box
  3. paraffin wax or old candles

Makin' it.  Clean out the tuna can and take the label off.  Cut your corrugated cardboard to about 1" or the depth of the tuna can.  Wind up the cardboard as tight as you can and put it into the tuna can.  While you are doing this, get a pot of water boiling and put your wax into a mason jar or old tin can (I used an old jelly jar).  The jar goes into the boiling water (double boiler style) and after a few min, you have melted wax.  After the wax is all melted, carefully pour it into the tuna can with the cardboard in place.  It takes a while for it to dry (faster in a frig).

Startin' it.  It doesn't start as well as I thought it would.  It took some time with the lighter (the wind didn't help any either).  Once it lights good, it will stay lit.  After you get it going, you're going to need something to balance the pot or pan on.  Bricks are just the right height, but you could use rocks or specially designed metal to do the job.

Cookin' with it.  It took exactly 9 min 30 seconds for it to boil two cups of water.  It's not a fast cooker, but it will do the job.  *also, very important* DO NOT use your wife's best cooking pan to experiment with this!  It leaves black marks all over the bottom.  The fire is a little smoky and doesn't smell that great (I guess if you used incensed candle wax it might smell better)- but it does the job and may help you eat.  I cooked on it for 10 min and there looked to be PLENTY of cooking time left on it.

Puttin' it out.  Don't pour water on it!  It flares up something fierce!  (pretty cool though).  I recommend smothering the flame with the bottom of the pot (not the good one though).  Don't let it burn out cause you can use it again for next time.


Amy E said...

Thanks for the information! Got in trouble did ya? LOL!

Cindra said...

This is how I learned to make sterno type cooker in the Girl Scounts too. However, I saw on someone's blog that they put a wick in the middle of the wax to aid in starting it. Also, I use beeswax so the smell is much better.

Josh said...

To keep from getting smoke marks all over the pan coat the bottom of the pan lightly with dish soap. It never fails.

Jimmy (pen name) said...

Great advice. I'll have to remember that the next time I cook on the campfire.

Unknown said...

I place an old used birthday candle in the middle for ease of starting. Works well enough, as they burn down quickly. Just make sure your wax does not completely cover the top of your cardboard.