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Penny Stove 2.0 - Tecate Beer Cans
Original performance using Pop or Beer cans

Replacement for the Original Penny:

After a decade Heineken is no longer making those wonderful Keg cans and its time a Penny Stove that uses regular cans. I chose Tecate beer cans because there were many in my recycle bin and you can find the same can shape everywhere. Also, I liked the depth of the bottom dish, the soft exterior fold of the raised ring, and the way the top ring fit snugly over the bottom ring. You can use other standard cans, but since many are slightly different, the results may be slightly different.

So, after much building and testing and inspiration from Niek Lambert, I have perfected a competitive replacement for the original Penny. The 2.0 looks and performs much like the original and uses the same construction techniques. The 2.0 primes faster, is lighter and smaller, and is easier to make - but not as indestructible as the original.

A typical test:
Using two cups of 70° water and 30 ml of fuel (one ounce or two tablespoons), half in the stove and half covering the penny on top, showed the following results:

0.0 - light the stove
1.5 min - jets light fully
2.0 min - top fuel drains under penny
4.5 min - water starts to boil
5.0 min - simmer ring dropped onto stove
5.0 min - 20 min. - full boil continues
21 min - stove out of fuel

If you've made a Heineken Penny before:
Basically its the same construction technique, with the cup 1 1/8" tall, and the burner 3/4" tall. The simmer ring is 3/4" tall strip, and the base is 1/2" tall - cut from the top of the can. The pot support is the same - holding the pot 1" from the cup top edge of the stove making it about 2 1/2" high.

Two Tecate beer cans and one penny.
knife (exacto), scissors, drill with 1/16" bit ( or short push pin).
Other helpful stuff includes a Sharpie, a small book, and needle nose pliers.
You will also need a wind screen and pot support used with the original stove.

Mark & cut the cans:
Use a Sharpie (or sharp knife) trapped in a book to mark one can 1 1/8" from the top for the cup, and another 3/4" fro the burner.
Using the knife or point of the scissor, rough cut both cans in half.
Use the scissors to spiral down to the Sharpie line and make a clean cut. Wash the inside of both cups to remove any dried beer.

Or, try Keven Kenny's suggestion. He finds it "considerably easier to make the cup, burner, cap/stand and simmer-ring by clamping a utility knife to the bench, in the same book that holds the Sharpie for marking. Spin the can against the blade, with a fairly light touch. for several revolutions. If the can starts oil-canning, you're pressing too hard, and fatiguing the metal. Once the knife starts to penetrate the can, stop cutting and flex the can along the cutting line. It parts cleanly with nary a burr, and makes a beautiful straight cut."

Mark & drill the jets:
Mark the bottom center of the burner (3/4" high cup). Spin the can and expand the dot until it is centered, then add three dots just outside the center.
Mark the crease just outside the ring, then add 6 equally spaced marks. Start with two across from each other Check to make sure they align with the center dot.
Then, add two equally spaced on each side. Again, use the center dot to line these up - expanding the dots to adjust jet locations.
Use a 1/16" or #52 bit to drill the 6 outside holes and 4 center holes. Make sure the drill is 90° from the surface - start slow then drill fast. If you use a push pin, bend & spin to open up and expand the hole as much as you can.

Keven Kenny "found that a nice way to get the burner holes evenly spaced was to wrap a strip of masking tape around the edge of the burner, mark one pair of corresponding spots, and unroll the tape. Now you can measure the circumference with a ruler and mark off six equal parts. Wrap the tape back around the burner, and there are your hole locations."

Make 12 Dimples in the burner:
Turn the burner over and mark a line half way up the flat side of the burner. Using this as a guide, use needle nose pliers (or fingers) to bend down the edge - use the 6 jet holes as a guide. Then, bend down 6 more centered between the jets. Adjust these dimples and bend in any high points extending outside the radius of the can. Finally, drill a 1/16" hole in the dimple above each jet hole.

Press the burner into the cup:
Put the burner in the freezer (stream or snowbank) for 5 minutes. Then put the cup on a trivet (hot pot or hot rock) to warm it up. Remove both and force fit the burner into the cup. I like to slowly tap the burner down using a wooden stick or spoon. Some like to put the burner face down and hand force the cup over the burner. Once burner is flush with the cup lip, carefully drive it to the bottom using the top of an empty can. The burner ring should sit about 1/8" below the top edge of the cup when it hits bottom. If the burner was made carefully, there should be a tight smooth ridge all the way around. If not, it will leak and you will need to fill it with JB Weld epoxy.

Cut the base:
At this point you will want to light it, but the base is an integral part of the burning process - it insulates stove allowing it to prime automatically and burn evenly. it also raised the stove the optimum distance from the pot, and acts as a top to hold the penny in when traveling.
If the can has been opened, bend the tab back to fill the hole. Then spin and break off the poptop tab. If you want an intact hole, drink the beer from a hole in the side of the can - best to do this when you're alone.
Turn the can top upside down and make a Sharpie mark 1/2" from the table. Cut here to make the base.

Cut the simmer ring:
Mark and cut a the second can top to make a smooth level cut. Mark and cut again to make a 3/4" strip of aluminum. Wrap this into a tight spring to overlap the edges. Adjust the size until it fits perfectly into the inside edge of the cup. To drop it on, I hold it slightly compressed, then let it spring out after I drop it on the lit burner.
Note: simmer ring should never be used without the pot in place - it will not work and it will melt.

Set the penny:
To make sure that the penny seals the center holes, grind the penny around the center of the cup with your finger. It will grind off any stamped numbers - soon you will feel a smooth fit that will hold fuel in the top of the stove.

Pot support and wind screen:
You can use any of the original pot supports shown on this site. It should hold the pot 2 1/2" high and/or 1" from the top cup lip.
Any wind screen will work as long as there is a good air supply at the bottom or side and it leaves at least 1/2" gap around the pot. I prefer a screen that leaves an opening so that I can see the stove and slide it in and out between the pot support.

Packing for travel:
Put the simmer ring in place, then set the base ring side down onto the stove. Note that the simmer ring and base are flush and both help the protect the stove cup edge. I wrap this in a paper towel and cary it in my pot and/or cup.

Lighting the stove:
For best results, put about half of the fuel you intend to use inside the stove and half on top - covering the penny. That way you have fuel for the priming flame, and fuel to start the boil inside. For standard 20 ml (2/3 oz.) burn, fill the center cup then slide the penny aside and let it run into the stove. Then refill the center cup to overflowing - fuel should run over to cover the jets. Light immediately. The stove should already be under the pot support so that it is not moved. Put pot and wind screen on immediately - the reflected heat will help get things going. Don't forget the base and have the simmer ring ready to drop as soon as the jets light, or water boils.

To extinguish the flames instantly:
At any time in the process, lift the pot, slid the pot support away, and set the pot on the stove. Once cooled you can pour remaining fuel back into your container. This makes it one of the safest backpacking stove ever made - IMHO.

You may want to also review the Instructions & FAQ's page for production and performance tips.



Options and Input

  Yee Simmer Ring
Conway Yee proposed a simmer ring that isn't easily bent out of shape and is easier to get onto the stove while lit.

Yee suggested that "Instead of taking the simmer ring from the middle of the can, take a ring from the top! The top conical section (after removing the actual can top) is similar to your old Heineken simmer ring, is more substantial and easier to place on the stove while lit. If sufficient (material) is removed from the smaller aspect of the top, the six holes of the stove are on the inside of the simmer ring. I tried it and it appears to work well. Proviso...Statistical sample of ONE. YMMV."

I made one and found that it worked just fine. I cut the can about halfway down the bevel - remove too much and it will not set on the burner, too little and it will not clear the jets. Since it sits higher than the original, it should be about 5/8" high rather than 3/4". This will also let it pack flush with the base as with the original simmer ring.

My only concern is that it's harder to make and unless it sets completely down on top of the burner, flame from the jets can get behind it and overheat the cup. This shot shows the kind of gap that you do not want to leave when you drop the ring onto the burner.
  Murphy Simmer Ring
Alan Murphy likes to "make the simmer ring out of the same aluminum dryer vent material as the windscreen, cut to 3/4" width and pulled over a workbench edge to get it round, then cut to about 1/2" of end-to-end overlap when it's placed around the burner ring. It is easier to place and so far none of those have burned up, whereas all the simmer rings I made from aluminum cans burned up within a few tries due to all-to-easy misplacement over the flaming burner. It controls the flame nicely, evidenced by about 25 minutes of burn time when cooking the rice dish."
  Jeffrey Wong Simmer Ring
Jeff says: "I have been making a few super cat stoves as well as a bunch of the penny stove 2.0. While looking the former, I found that the Libby Vienna Sausage can when inverted fit right on top of the Penny 2.0 without leaving much room for flames to burn outside its rim making for easy placement on a hot burning stove as a simmer ring, when cut to the right size."

Jeff also sent these interesting alternatives.

Jeff Says: "I made a few more simmer rings. at rear left in the photo I show a section from a 24 oz beer can...cut to the height that a simmer ring would raise the stove (I just slip the 24 oz can section over the stove)--it seemed to work pretty well, letting 15 gm of fuel burn to 15:00 after I dropped it on at 4:00.

Next are the rings made from aluminum flashing. On the right, I have a penny 2.0 in back, a penny 2.0 with a simmer ring with pinch handles and in front a simmer ring with slightly shorter pinch handles--these rings work well, despite a small gap between the handles--the gap permits easier placement. Minus: bulkier than we like.

The front left simmer ring is a two piece job. The ring has two small hooks that match hooks on the jerry rigged tweezers, which I have used to squeeze & place the ring in the penny 2.0. Minus of this one: easy to lose tweezers. So far the Vienna sausage rim is the best."

Paiolo Simmer Ring and Pot Stand
I cannot indorse the efficiency or safety of his pressurized stove, but Goggle "Paiolo Stove" for complete Italian instructions on making these beautifully crafted additions to the stove.

Paiolo finds that "it lets you adjust flame level (full, midle, low, very low...), you can slide it up and down when you want without burning yourself (simple press the handle and move), can be used also to move the burning stove (take the handle without pressing it), it is foldable, and it is easily built with a clip and with what is left from the can after building the stove."

"it is a foldable pot stand built from a wire coat hanger; it doesn't use small (and difficult to find) pipes to keep together the wires, but simply... the side wall of the second can rolled around the wires to form a virtual "pipe"."

"an easy way to prevent the penny from jingling inside the stove during the travel is to leave the tab of the base and to use it as a nice penny holder."


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©2011 mark jurey