A Simple Stove, Built For Beans

Sitting around a campfire or fireplace is an aesthetically pleasing experience in most situations, and can even provide some warmth. But unless you have a modern wood-burning appliance, it’s likely that most of the energy available in the biomass is escaping as un-burned vapors. Surprisingly, solving this problem is almost as easy as buying a can of beans at the store, and the result is a very efficient stove which can be used for heat in a pinch.

[Robert] is demonstrating this gasifier stove, not with beans but using both a can of peas and a larger can of potatoes. Various holes are drilled in each can in a specific pattern, and then the smaller pea can is fitted inside the larger potato can. Once a fire is going, the holes allow for air to flow in a way which traps the escaping un-burned vapors from the fuel and burns them as they flow through the contraption. No moving parts are required; this is all powered by the natural airflow that’s produced by the heat of the fire.

The result of a build like this is not only a stove which can extract a much higher percentage of the available fuel, but also quires much less fuel for a given amount of heat, and produces a much cleaner, less smokey fire. [Robert] also added a screen mantle which allows for this to be used more as a heat source, but similar builds can also be used just as effectively for cooking, too.

17 thoughts on “A Simple Stove, Built For Beans

  1. A really disapointing video. All critical steps are ‘behind the scene’ and replaced by useless extensive comments. The ‘drawing’ looks really strange ( airflow from the top ?) and my overall feeling is that it does not work as expected. I think 3 pictures would easily replace this lengthy clip, and a real explanation well deserved to demonstrate the effect claimed to be at play here.

    1. Actually these stoves work exactly as he shows and beware it can take you down a fun but consuming rabbit hole building and testing the various methods that are out there.

      His best point is about the mantle and is a very good contribution to the basic idea and purpose of these things.

  2. Actually fairly close to my hiking ZipZtove from the 1990’s except that is uses a small electric fan to help with the air flow. His design makes sense as air is provided at the bottom to be used two ways. First is to provide air to get the fire going and also routed along the gap between the cans to get pre-heated to assist in the second burn ( Gasification ) Not perfect but for such a simple use of materials it is worth the time to make one and experiment.

    1. I have a small nesting camping woodburner from the far east that works in a similar way, channeling and burning the wood gas. It’s stainless steel, packs down nicely and only cost about $20. They really are efficient with fuel – twigs, pinecones, dead branches are all sufficient. DIY is cool; we made hobo stoves (big apple-juice tins and a candle) in Scouts, but for camping, the $20 SS stove works better, packs better, and will last longer than a couple of tin cans.

      Also in the realm of efficient camping: google the Kelly Kettle.

      Please folks do not use ANY of these little burner things indoors or in a closed space like a tent. They can kill.

  3. Meanwhile in Europe, uneducated people die left and right from carbon monoxide poisoning from running stoves and bbq’s indoor (without ventilation) to keep warm with the current unaffordable high energy prices.
    Electricity is now at almost $1/kWh .. Many people are spending their entire paychecks on heating.

    1. In Europe (I’m in Romania) we have stoves and chimneys from long time ago. Your comment is offensive. I’m 50+ years and I never have never seen indoor stove or barbecue without chimney. By the way, barbecue indoor is made rarely and only in a stove (with good draft) or a gas cooker (and so on), regular barbecue are made only outdoor because of smoke and smell.

        1. Sir, I’m speechless. Never imagine to hear this in Europe. Here in Romania such cases are extremely rare and only because of bad stove or ventilation, but never because of open fire (without ventilation), and we have plenty stoves in rural areas. Never seen such information in our press about how desperately are people in West Europe.

  4. As a person who’s split dozens of cords of wood, I can say anything that burns more efficiently is a huge bonus and most wood stoves are complete garbage. As pointed out above, burning wood well is non-trivial.

  5. I have had a little camping stove somewhat like this for years. The “bush buddy”. A wonderful thing. I can use small sticks to boil water and use it backpacking. It is very much like what is shown here. It would be fun to try making my own from cans I have laying around.

    The only downside of it is it coats pans with soot. Left to itself it burns completely clean and smokeless, but once the flame is touching the pan, combustion is not complete.

    It does need to be steadily fed fuel and tended when in use, but it is satisfying to use small twigs to cook and not to be using commercial fuel from a can.

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