Altoids are curiously strong mints and the tins they come in are curiously useful. Of course, there are innumerable variations out there for survival kits that fit into an Altoids tin. Those kits are fun projects, especially if you’re a fan of putting together puzzles. This Altoids alcohol stove project is a bit simpler than trying to Jenga-fit a bunch of odds and ends into a small kit.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Altoids tin
- Metal window screen
- Scissors or tin snips
- Denatured alcohol (the higher the grade, the better)
Rinse out the empty Altoids tin and dry it with a towel. This isn’t absolutely necessary but starting with a clean slate, so to speak, is never a bad idea.
Pull out a handful of perlite from the bag and pick through it, finding the larger chunks and dropping them into the tin. Fill the tin with perlite all the way to the top.
Lay a corner of the screen over the open tin and use a marker to draw an outline that is the same size as the tin. Use scissors or tin snips to cut this rectangle out. You’ll note the tin has rounded corners so trim the screen the same shape.
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Next, fit the window screen over the top of the perlite and tuck the sides and corners into the tin. I’ve found using a butter knife works well for this purpose. The window screen serves to keep the perlite in place as you carry the tin around.
Note: rather than buying a roll of window screen just for this little project, you can either use an old screen you don’t need anymore or you can buy a window screen repair kit. That kit will come with a few small “patches” of screen that you can put together for this project.
Using the Altoids Alcohol Stove
That’s all there is to it! When you are ready to use the stove, add three tablespoons or so of alcohol to the perlite, then lay a lit match on the screen to light. This will burn for about ten minutes or so, long enough to bring a quart of water to a boil.
If you carry your little stove in a bug out bag, you can keep the fuel in a well-sealed plastic container. Keep that and the Altoids tin inside a Ziploc bag, in case the container leaks.
You can’t place your cooking pot or pan directly on the stove as that will smother the flame. Instead, place a small brick on each side of the stove and lay your pot on the bricks.
If you need to lower the heat level a bit, place a square of aluminum foil over part of the screen. You can also douse the flame completely the same way or by flipping the Altoids tin lid over the flame but it is safer to just let it burn out and cool down before storing.