Nice looking DIY alcohol-burner

Cheap to make, re-use of something you probably already have (the aluminium-can at least), practical for the outdoor activities we all should do more of, and nice to look at. What an awesome idea!

It sure looks awesome

But is this particular image just a good looking representation of a seems-to-be clever product, or is it actually something you can (and maybe even should) make by up-cycling (re-using) something you could potentially have tossed out as trash?

The can is cheap and available, but the leather might not
The can is cheap and available, but the leather might not

The aluminium can is probably the cheapest component of this product, even if your country has a return policy on them. They are probably plentiful and accessible, and they are all in the same standard cylindrical shape and dimension. But the glass part of this product, the part that is the bottom container where the fuel goes; is it really the same size as a standard aluminium can? And if you have one that is, are you willing to sacrifice it for such a project?

Looking through my own kitchen-cabinet I come to realise that glasses come in all shapes and sizes – both drinking glasses and old glass jars from jam and olives. In my case, none of them had a perfect fit for the empty can but I think a few of them could be ok to use if I made sure to properly fill the space between the two components properly. Some silicone sealant could be used, as long as it makes it completely sealed so that no liquid is able to escape. The sealant also need to be able to handle kerosene and alcohol, and be approved for a high enough temperature. It would not be very pleasant it started to leak fuel all over itself (or you) while the wick was lit. The sealant might also work to isolate the glass from the (probably) hot aluminium, to prevent it from cracking (aluminium is a great conductor of heat).

Ok ok, but it looks so good

What really makes this product so good-looking is the combination of the transparent bottom with the liquid and submerged wick, and the thick fabric wrapped around the edge between the top and bottom. Most aluminium cans don’t initially look truly awesome. And they for sure don’t look awesome when they are cut across their side and get that rough and rugged edge you have to keep your fingers away from. So the fabric that is wrapped around is great for potentially covering this up, both for good looks and for good safety.

Cheap parts, maybe even the glass jar. A great DIY solution
Cheap parts, maybe even the glass jar. A great DIY solution

So if you want this product to look this good you better make sure you have some leather or heavy fabric available, and that you are handy enough to join it together in a way that end up similar to this. I think a thin belt could work for this purpose, so if you have an old one that you are willing to sacrifice make sure you also have some idea on how to combine the ends in a touch and pretty merge. It looks like a “punch gun” has been used for the green fabric version of this, joining the ends with those attachable rings. I’m not sure how common tools that is or what the prices are, so the alternative could be to use thread and needle instead. For something as thick as a belt you might need something stronger, but it is possible with the right needle and some thick thread. In any case it should be joined tightly around the aluminium can to avoid it being able to fall off accidentally. In a way it is just a handle, but in this case it pretty much makes the product stand out. Without it the design would not be the same…

Oh the details, it’s such a beauty

Last, but not least, you will need a wick! A hole needs to be drilled so that a wick of similar size can run through. Make the hole a little bit smaller so that it holds tight. If you have some shoe-laces laying around, those will probably work for this purpose. Without the plastic on the edges of course. I am pretty sure that most thread/twine would work as long as it is made of something natural. Choose something that burns without melting at least, and make sure that it’s dense enough to handle the heat of the flame. If its too thin it might just turn into sot, possible burning up quicker than intended and potentially bringing the flame down into the fuel. It should also be loose enough for the fuel to be able to seep through it. Try it out first, just be careful! To fill it with fuel you should probably add the other hole too, and then plug it with a … button? The images don’t give away much, and in a way it is uncertain if it is intended to use the hole for filling or if the top can actually be unscrewed to open it.

Most frugal DIY version, but doesnt look as good as the decorated versions
Most frugal DIY version, but doesnt look as good as the decorated versions

Therefore I am a bit unsure if I would actually recommend anyone building this product. It should be done with great caution, it really seems risky and many key elements are not mapped. I guess I will have to try to make one first before I can decide where I stand on this. If I do recommend it you will be able to get instructions to this in the digital learning content section here on the site, and it will carefully guide you through the process (step by step, and with the needed details) in the most safe and thorough way possible. Would be cool if it could be made easily, right?

Thanks for reading, and… stay safe!

By |2018-03-12T11:15:33+02:00August 31st, 2016|Categories: Longread, Opinion|Tags: , , , |

About the Author:

Inventor through instinct | Born curious, fascinated by natural complexity - and technology | Natural problem-solver | Inherent need to Create | Perceptual | A creative soul, fundamentally Artistic | Headstrong, mostly | Idealistic, knowingly Dreamy | Engineer, Entrepreneur | Thorough, Responsible, Careful | Concerned