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By Travis W. Hughey Faith And Sustainable Technologies www.fastonline.org Copyright 2007 All Rights Reserved
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The name for this burner is derived from the term “Spirit” which, in Kenya, is the general term for Methylated Spirits, a common household solvent that has many uses. It is basically denatured alcohol which has been dyed (purple) to deter people from drinking the stuff. This burner also works well with denatured alcohol found in the paint department of many hardware stores. This little burner would also be very handy in emergency situations. I live in a hurricane prone area in South Carolina and think this burner would be a smart addition to any emergency preparedness kit. One could use it not only to cook but to boil water to make it safe to drink as well. The burner in the picture above boiled a liter of water in just 6 minutes and burned for a total of 15 minutes on 3 oz. of fuel. It would easily cook a meal for one person and if a longer burn time is needed, simply remove the used up one and replace it with a fresh fueled unit. The first could then be cooling and refueled to replace the previous (when cold to the touch – never put fuel in a hot burner!!) and so on. Some would wonder why to even put out the instructions for such a small burner when there is already so much good information on small homemade alcohol fuel stoves on the web. Simply do a Google search on pop can stove and you will find many variations on this design. I by no means invented this type burner but rather simply built it out of tin cans. I will go into the reasons why shortly. But first, a little information about why use an alcohol stove anyhow. Much of the developing world is in a crisis of sorts. This crisis is the need for safe, reliable and inexpensive cooking fuel. We here in the United States have various resources to cook our meals such as gas and electric ranges and are pretty much oblivious to the struggle day to day that much of the world goes through simply to cook food and purify water. We get a small taste of this when the power goes out. Imagine living 24/7 like that without pre-packaged convenience foods and you begin to get the idea. Much of the world, however, still uses wood or charcoal as the primary fuel for cooking meals. While, traditionally, wood and charcoal are cheap and easy to use they do have some drawbacks that make them a poor choice for everyday use. The first of these is for health reasons. Many women in the world suffer from respiratory illness due to the constant exposure to smoke. Girls start at an early age starting a fire and cooking for the family. While this practice may seem quaint to the casual observer it has much the same affect as starting to smoke at age 5. Needless to say the constant exposure to smoke at such an age will give one a high chance of lung disease by their middle age. In fact, respiratory disease is one of the major issues in health care among women in many parts of the world. The soot that comes off of using such fuels is also problematic as far as cleaning the pots and pans and making the enclosed environments of their homes less than healthy.
One of the drawbacks of using alcohol as a fuel by the poor of this world has been the expense of the stove itself. The byproducts of its combustion are carbon dioxide and water. is actually cheaper than wood or charcoal (which is now illegal to use in many places) and only produces carbon dioxide and water when it burns…. 2. would not pollute the house. They simply aren’t available so another material has to be used.Second is the environmental impact of burning wood and charcoal. The good news is it’s no longer the case with the Kenyan Spirit Burner. and can stand on one and not crush it. are fast growing and easily renewable so it’s easy on the environment. Making and selling this little burner in developing countries can also help produce income. It is built with materials that are commonly thrown away. 3. It does not produce carbon monoxide like gasoline. In some places deforestation due to the manufacture of charcoal has had devastating effects on the environment. What if we had a wonder fuel that would burn clean. No wonder the Water Hyacinth is such a problem with such nutrient rich water! A third issue with the use of wood and charcoal is time. unlike trees. My son and I held a workshop in 2006 at Antioch Bible School in Karatina Kenya (where the average per capita income is currently $400. I weigh 250 lbs. This is valuable time that could be spent doing income generating ventures. This is what Appropriate Technology is all about. Alcohol can be made from a variety of plant materials that. On the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya top soils are seriously eroded due to the lack of root mass holding the soil. It is easily stored and compared to other fuels inexpensive to use.. in your lungs or on the pots and pans. Couple that with the need to fertilize subsoil’s to get them to produce a harvest and one can see where even more fertilizer is added to the lake. So we see that the use of (or should I say misuse) wood and charcoal on a continuous basis has a devastating effect on the health.00 per year) and showed bible school students how to build the burner and help support themselves in the bush instead of depending on donations. Are you ready to build one? Or two or three…? 3 . Aluminum pop cans haven’t made it to many parts of the world yet. or more accurately . I guess another benefit to this is it reduces rubbish (a huge problem everywhere) as well!! It only takes a few minutes to build and is incredibly durable. Enter alcohol. environment and economy of a household. When the phytoplankton decomposes it uses up the oxygen in the bottom of the lake and fish die off. Women and girls sometimes spend as much as three hours a day working with this method between gathering wood and tending the fires while getting them lit. will begin heating immediately with no wait time. Needless to say they were very excited!! The reason we are using tin cans is simple. It’s a clean burning fuel that doesn’t put soot into the air.ethanol. The topsoil’s run off into the lake and add to the over fertilization of the lake aiding the formation of algae blooms that choke out the phytoplankton. Unfortunately it is in this deeper water where the larger fish live that are the primary reproductive “engine” in the lake which contributes to shortages in fish stocks. 4.. A few of its benefits are: 1.
Building this project involves the use of sharp tools and materials (sheet metal from the cans). have someone you know who is knowledgeable of such things build it for you or show you firsthand how to do it. I cannot and will not be held responsible or liable for any injuries to anyone doing this project. Be very careful and use appropriate safety equipment such as gloves. If you are not up to this yourself.First. Be patient. safety glasses etc. I personally have built dozens of these and if done carefully you will do fine. work slowly and always be aware of where your hands are in relation to sharp objects. The last thing I would want is for anyone to get hurt while building this little burner. a word about safety…. When working with tools and sharp objects there is always the risk of getting cut. While we are on safety… Alcohol is the ONLY fuel recommended for this burner! DO NOT USE GASOLINE OR ANY OTHER FUEL THAN ALCOHOL!! 4 .
Not the kind of things we want to be breathing into our lungs!! Using this burner indoors can result in DEATH to all persons inside when using the wrong fuel!!! Hopefully I am very clear on this subject!! Now. let’s get to building! 5 .Gasoline produces a very large flame and massive amounts of smoke and Carbon Monoxide!! The photos above are burning on gasoline as the fuel. Notice the huge flame and large amount of smoke being produced.
to layout the cuts. DO NOT use polyester blend type cloth.) 6 oz tin can with both ends removed and cleaned (tomato paste or.First we must gather the materials and tools. in Kenya.) 6oz tuna cans (do not open and empty the contents before beginning this project) (AR) Cotton batting. It will melt inside the burner. Materials: (1ea. cotton balls or pure cotton fabric pieces. sardines come in this type can). pencil etc. Tools (1 each): (1) Nail (2) Flat file (3) Needle nose pliers (4) Hacksaw blade (5) Thumb tack (6) Can opener (7) A sharpie marker. Here is a photo of the things you will need (makes two burners). 6 . (2ea.
Use the flat file to do this. This is the tool you will use to cut the top out of the tuna can later. The next step (if you haven’t already done so) is to remove the ends of the tomato paste (or sardine) can. When you are finished the end will look like the photo below. It will look like this: 7 . The nail works well though and is easy to get in places where the screwdriver set may be hard to find. Make sure it is very sharp. wash out the can and dry it.The first step is to sharpen a flat chisel end on the nail. A whole set can be had very cheaply if you don’t want to sharpen a nail. Being careful to not cut yourself. I have also used the small screwdrivers used for repairing small electronics and such.
The whole arrangement will look like this: After you have scratch marked the two places on the can carefully cut the can using the hacksaw into two pieces as shown (note the center section in the background. Flip over the tomato paste can and do the same on the other end.Next take a tuna can and turn it upside down on a work surface. discard it): 8 . Lay the hacksaw blade (teeth facing back toward you) across the can and with the tomato paste can standing next to it rotate the tomato paste can (clockwise) against the teeth of the hacksaw blade to score where the can is to be cut.
Laying the piece on its side. fold the jagged edge in along the sidewall of the can as shown by rolling it on the work surface.Using the needle nose pliers carefully roll down the jagged edge of the hacksaw cuts like this by rubbing the outside of the pliers along the cut and folding in the jagged edge. You will have to hold the can with your hand and rotate it (I had to take the picture so that is not shown). 9 .
After folding over both edges take one of the tuna cans and place it upside down on your work surface. Center one of the center pieces you just made as shown: 10 . The one on the left has not.When finished it should look like this: In the photo above the can on the right has had the edge folded over.
Using a marker of some sort and holding the center piece firmly in place make a mark on the inside of the center piece as shown: Do the same for both tuna cans? This makes the cut line on top of the tuna can. 11 .
as needed. You can use a small hammer or (I know you are not supposed to) I sometimes use the needle nose pliers to tap the nail to punch the holes. Using the tool you made from the nail begin making a series of small cuts just on the inside of the line as shown.Now. You will badly distort the can. Since the cans are full of tuna you will get a bit of water or oil squirting from the holes you are making. Don’t try to cut the center section out all at once. I drain it. Take your time and make the first pass look like this: 12 . for the messy part. as I go to reduce the mess.
Discard the center piece. Do the same on the other tuna can if making two burners. Clean and dry the can being careful not to cut yourself on the sharp jagged edge. 13 . Continue in this fashion until the center section is completely cut out as shown. The choice is up to you though. I personally use the contents to make tuna salad and have never had any trouble with metal in the food. Empty the contents of the can. Do what is comfortable to you.Make another series of cuts as before but punch out every other space between the previous cuts.
A good trick is to roll the can while holding pressure on the edge and moving the pliers (mandrel) inside the can at the same time. carefully roll the jagged edge as shown in the following photo. 14 . Take note of the shape of the hole being formed and try to make it as round as possible. Patience and finesse is the key to success here. This may mean putting more effort (pressure) on some places than others.Next. Be careful and go very slowly. This may take a bit of practice to get the hang of it but thankfully tuna cans are cheap and tuna salad is a wonderful thing. What we are trying to do is roll an edge the center piece will fit very snugly into. This encourages the metal to roll inward. We want a good uniform press fit here for the burner to work best.
When done it should look something like this: Keep working and test often until you get a nice tight press fit. 15 .
(I have actually used a variety of absorbent materials from perlite to floor dry but I think the cotton works best and is very easy to work with). Next insert the center piece and carefully press it to the bottom. This may require taking something and poking the wick back against the outer wall as you press the center piece home. This will form a wick for the stove fuel around the outer edge. cotton fabric. When done it should look like this: 16 . cotton balls. around the outer edge. etc.When you get the fit right take the center piece out and carefully (the edge that is rolled down is sharp!!) put cotton batting.
To make the orifices for the flames. take a marker and make marks in the top edge dividing the circumference of the tuna can in equal quarters as shown: 17 . If you want you can wiggle it out and trim some off the bottom to make it set in closer. Don’t worry about it sealing the alcohol from getting to the wick. I have never had one that had a problem absorbing the fuel. We want the inner piece to sit firmly on the inside bottom of the unit. Be careful though that you do not take too much off the bottom. I can’t tell any difference in the performance of the burner if the fit around the centerpiece is good.The center piece will stick up a bit.
It takes a bit of force and it sometimes helps to wiggle it a bit to get it started.Next make a mark centered in the middle of each of the first four marks and then another mark between each of the eight marks making 16 total marks spaced equally around the circumference of the tuna can as shown. Using the thumb tack. 18 . make holes on the top edge around the perimeter by pushing the tack through the metal.
Give yourself a big pat on the back and enjoy a tuna salad sandwich for a job well done!! 19 .Once the hole is started though. push it straight in and straight out making all the holes uniform. Your burner is now completed!! Do the same on the other unit to complete both of them.
the flame of an alcohol burner is very hard. very orange in color and leave a bit of residue on the pot. DO NOT USE GASOLINE OR ANY OTHER FUEL EXCEPT ALCOHOL!! I store my fuel in a handy two compartment bottle that helps me measure out the fuel. Be very careful when refueling that the burner is completely out and cool (learned this the hard way). the purer the better. Any water will make the flame cooler. A note of caution. Everclear. Methylated spirits found in many countries does well. My experience has shown that denatured alcohol is probably the best. They look like this: The small compartment on the left side is 1 oz. if not impossible. There are many suppliers for such bottles and I have found the best deals at janitorial supply houses. This gives me a cook time of about 15 minutes. Isopropyl found in many stores comes in various grades and it all has water in it. Some have also said pure grain alcohol (Vodka. If you have to use isopropyl get the 90%. It fills the compartment and the fuel can be poured into the burner. Simply take the lid off the left side and squeeze. Stay away from anything lower unless there simply is no choice. so to measure the fuel is very easy and not messy at all. Once again. To fuel the burner I usually use 3 oz. Immediately prior to using the burner. You will see the fuel level go down in the middle 20 . pour the fuel into the center section and give it a little time to absorb the fuel in the wicking. I try to stay away from methanol because of the health risks but if handled correctly it works well.) works nicely although I have had no experience with it. to see in broad daylight. etc. of fuel. Gasoline antifreeze such as “Heet” brand works also.Using the Kenya Spirit Burner The fuel for this burner is alcohol.
the tuna can version fits nicely in a Sterno folding camp stove. Way cool! The first question usually is “Can it explode?” The short answer is “very unlikely.Place the unit in either a homemade holder or. The flame on this burner looks like this: 21 . Yes. Using a match. I even use it in my Swedish military surplus mess kit. ignite the center area of the burner as shown. This is due to the fact that pressure buildup will bleed back into the center section and simply burn off. This is a very robust design. flames will start jetting out of the orifices much like a burner on a gas range. as in this photo. There are many variations that this burner will fit in. Very soon after igniting the fuel in the center. you have just built a pressurized fuel burner!! Fuel heating up in the outer wall will vaporize and jet out of the orifices. if not impossible”.
of fuel. We lit the burner at exactly 5:45.The pot on top of the stove has a liter of water in it. That’s 15 minutes of burn time on 3oz. (that’s 6 minutes) the liter of water is at a rolling boil! Not bad for a burner that was made from throw away tin cans!! As the fuel starts to be consumed the flame will get lower: The flame completely burned out at 6:00. 22 . Notice the clock in the following photo as the water comes to a good rolling boil: At 5:51.
com.org .I hope this has been an informative document.fastonline. This document is free of charge but any donations to help us continue our work are gladly accepted. And by all means visit our website at www.. If you have any questions or comments please email me at kenyahugheys@yahoo. Hughey Pres. I have a huge resource of information that is growing daily made available for all who can use it. God Bless. Faith And Sustainable Technologies 23 . Travis W.
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