Thursday, May 19, 2011
Making a Buddy Burner
These are fun little “stoves, ovens or heaters” for camping or an emergency. It could save the lives of your family in a winter no-heat emergency. Make them and store them until needed. These can be made with mostly materials you have on hand. It is a good idea to make up several of the wax filled cans and have them on hand for an emergency.
If you have not used these before, then you should try them. They are fun for kids to cook their own meals on. You can improvise and use empty tin cans to cook in but it is much easier if you have small sauce pans for fry pans to cook with. Check to see what you have that you could use in an emergency so that when you need something you don’t have to search for it. Just like with everything else in preparedness, planning ahead will be much easier than trying to figure things out in the middle of an emergency.
Materials needed to make a buddy burner:
Plain corrugated cardboard (not printed with bright inks or coated with wax or plastic)
Flat tuna cans, flat pet food cans, and/or flat pineapple cans with their lids (Pineapple cans work best because they are a little taller)
#10 cans (the large institutional size)
Candle wax or paraffin
Tools needed to make a buddy burner:
Rotary can opener
Punch type can opener
Materials needed to use a buddy burner:
Concrete block or bricks
Small clean cans or pans for cooking or baking on top of the #10 can
An additional #10 can if you wish to turn your stove into an oven
Pliers, aluminum foil (optional), pot holders
Cut the cardboard in strips whose width is the height of the tuna or pineapple can you are using -- across the corrugations, so that the holes in the corrugated cardboard show. Roll the strips until the cardboard roll fits snugly into the can. You want a very tight fit.
Melt the wax. It is great if you have an old pan you can use just for melting wax. It is best to use a double boiler, as if the wax gets too hot, it can burst into flame. You can improvise a double boiler by putting water in a large pan, and then setting a smaller pan (or even a large clean empty tin can (vegetable size) with the wax, into the water. Each tuna can will take about 4 ounces of wax.
When the wax is melted, slowly pour it into the buddy burner so that it runs down into the holes and saturates the corrugated cardboard and fill the can to the rim. You can put a small piece of cardboard sticking up or a candle wick in the middle to help start it, but this isn't required. Let it cool and harden. Your burner is ready to go.
Cut out one end of the #10 can. Use the tin snips to cut a 3" high and 4" wide "door" on one side of the can at the open end. Cut across the top of the door. Bend this flap of metal so the door is "open". Take the punch-type can opener, and make 3 or 4 holes on the other side of the can at the top (this is your chimney). Gather the rest of you supplies for cooking and you are all set.
This is very important: Make sure to set the burner on a brick or concrete block. It produces a lot of heat and the flame can be 6-8” high. It isn’t unsafe if you use it carefully. Do not set it on the floor where it can be kicked or where it can catch carpeting on fire. Set it on a concrete block or bricks and set it on a table or stand. If using indoors make sure you have adequate ventilation – keep a door open to the rest of the house and if cooking, open a window just a bit because of the smoke. Don’t let kids play with it; however it will be fun for toasting marshmallows.
To light your buddy burner:
To light it, set it on a brick or concrete block. Put a lighted match in the middle of the can or light the wick. The flame will spread across the top of the can; that's OK, that's what it's supposed do.
To use for cooking:
Place the #10 can over the Buddy Burner and place a pan with whatever you want to cook on top of the #10 can.
To use for baking:
Using tuna cans as little pans, anything you would bake in a regular oven can be baked on top of the #10 can stove. Simply place another #10 can over your baking pan and it’s an oven!
To regulate the flame:
For heating or cooking, use the can lid as a damper but be very careful. Place the lid over all of the flame to extinguish the fire, or cover it partially to regulate the amount of flame. You can also use a piece of aluminum foil (several thicknesses folded), that is larger than the tuna can. Handle the damper with a pair of pliers (ideal), or a pot holder, or punch a couple of holes in the edges of the lid and use some wire to make a handle.
To refill the buddy burner:
Place small amounts of wax on the cardboard while the burner is operating. As long as it has wax, it will function.
To use for Emergency Heat:
Don't put the #10 can over the buddy burner, as it makes more smoke with the #10 can than without. Light the buddy burner; let it warm up a room and remember that it is easier to heat a room than a house, and it is easier to heat a room if you are bundled up warmly. This means a winter no-heat emergency is not a time to expect that you can walk around the house barefoot and in shorts. As soon as the room is warm, extinguish the buddy burner.