“One man's trash is another man's treasure.” This common saying is true for the general populace, but it's absolutely essential for survivalists. It serves as a reminder that garbage and often-discarded items can be re-purposed into valuable resources. We've seen this in the past through life-hacks like constructing a hobo stove from a tin can, and making cordage from plastic water bottles.

The materials necessary for a tin can stove. Any of the three fuels pictured will work.

This “trash into treasure” philosophy also holds true for the penny stove—a device that's built from nothing more than a few soda cans, a copper penny, and some alcohol for fuel. The penny is positioned atop the stove, and it acts as a fuel pressure regulator, preventing the alcohol fuel from escaping too quickly and burning out. It's important to use a 1982 or earlier penny for this stove, as later coins have much higher zinc content and may melt more easily.

Penny stove 2


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Here's a list of the materials you'll need for a penny stove:

  • Two empty, clean soda cans or beer cans
  • Pre-1983 penny or other copper coin
  • Push-pin, small nail, or drill with 1/16″ bit
  • Ruler, book, or block of wood (to use as a measurement device)
  • Scissors or a sharp knife
  • Needle-nose pliers or plier-equipped multi-tool
  • Heet automotive fuel system cleaner, denatured alcohol, or isopropyl alcohol for fuel

See the video below for instructions on how it all goes together, from YouTube user jiujitsu2000. For those who prefer text instructions, here's an excellent step-by-step guide by Mark Jurey that uses a slightly different design.


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