I first heard of alcohol stoves a couple of weeks ago while browsing the forum at backpacker.com. “Alcy stoves” burn denatured alcohol and are meant specifically for boiling water. You cannot easily control the flame on an alcy stove, the way that you can with canister stoves, so they're not ideal for cooking food where regulating heat output is important. However with thoughtful construction, ideal flame propagation can be achieved to boil water as quickly as possible. Other pros that come with using an alcy stove are: They're tiny, light weight (less than 1oz!), reliable and have a simple design. In fact, they're so simple in design that I made one myself. Special thanks to zenstove.net for the detailed instructions & tips!
The Theory:The theory behind the side burning stove that I made is simple. The stove consists of an inner and outer fuel chamber that are connected by weep holes on the bottom of the inner chamber. When initially lit, the alcohol burns in the inner chamber. This action, essentially, pre-heats and primes the stove. The burning alcohol in the inner chamber heats the fuel in the outer chamber, vaporizing it and forcing it out the 24 jets drilled in the side of the can. The escaping vapors are then ignited. When a pot of water is placed on top of the stove the inner chamber is extinguished leaving the 24 jets to burn and heat the pot above.
The stove consists of these three pieces, from left to right: a bottom (20mm tall), the inner wall (40mm tall with a 47mm Ø and three fuel ports/weep holes) and a top (with 24 evenly spaced, .6mm Ø jets, placed 15mm from the top). For the top piece, Use a can-opener to lightly cut the bottom out of the can.
The bottom 20mm piece must slip over the 30mm top piece, sandwiching the inner chamber wall between the two. This requires some dilating (stretching) of the bottom piece. To do this, use an unopened can and force it into the bottom piece several times. It helps to polish the unopened can before doing this. After dilating the bottom piece, smear a light coating of J-B Weld along the inside of the bottom piece.
After the J-B Weld has set overnight, you can then polish the stove if you wish. I opted to polish mine by removing the paint with sandpaper and then shining it up with steel wool. I may even get some aluminum polish and put a nice shine on it, but I'm sure it's going to get beat up pretty good in my pack this summer.