This easy to make tool has been in my inventory for 30-plus years. It has come in handy while camping as a scout, serving in the Marine Corps and even on the ground in the Gulf Coast as a First Responder after Hurricane Katrina and during Hurricane Rita.
Once assembled it is primarily a stove, but a bit of its contents can be cut away and used as a fire starter, and–if the area is properly ventilated–a heating device. That’s right, a single, self contained, water proof unit consisting of just three materials of which many of us have and throw away.
- Dryer Lint (About a one-pound coffee can full)
- Empty 12 oz. Tuna can (Clean and dry)
- Wax (Approx. 12 oz) [JWR Adds: Plain paraffin is available wherever home canning supplies are sold.]
- Fry Pan
- Small Pot
- Small stick (Popsicle type. I use my fingers but the wax is obviously hot!)
- Place an inch or so of water in the fry pan and bring to a mild boil.
- Break or cut wax into small pieces and place into the pot.
- Place Pot into the water and allow the wax to melt.
- Pack as much lint into the tuna can as possible.
- Slowly pour wax over the lint. The lint is going to absorb the wax and contract.
- Continually add lint. One tuna can will hold almost all of the lint that you have collected.
- Once the tuna can is almost full, top off with just a bit of wax.
- Let the wax cool and harden. I place it in the fridge to expedite the process. Even in the fridge it will take several hours to cool thoroughly.
Once assembled the total weight will be approximately 12.5 ounces.
How to use
Acting as a wick the lint burns the wax just like a candle. The Flame base is wide, almost the circumference of the can used, so it’s large enough to make quick work of a plate of food or a pot of snow. Take your utility knife and pierce the contents about a quarter of an inch and gently pry up creating little peaks you can easily light.
If you are having trouble getting that fire started, just grab your handy knife and carve a bit of the lint and wax away and place it under your kindling.
With wax as the fuel source once this handy item cools it is also water proof. I will admit it is a bit heavy however for three days in the field about half a can will work.
Different containers, e.g. an empty shoe polish can, will make a smaller stove with a lid. A larger can will burn much longer allowing for larger items to be heated.
JWR Adds: All the oft-repeated safety provisos on open flames and stove ventilation apply. Also, keep in mind that once ignited, you are dealing with liquid paraffin, so it will create a napalm-like burning puddle if the stove is tipped over. So show great caution when using your stove. Once you are done cooking, it is best to snuff it out by covering it with a tight-fitting steel lid. And of course let everything cool down completely before moving the stove.