How to Make a Hobo Stove

If you’re stranded in the wilderness, a hobo stove can be your only lifeline. This stove is made from scrap materials and does not require matches or fire to work. It’s easy enough for even novice crafters to make with just a few tools like wire cutters, an old pot lid and some aluminum foil. You could also just find one on Craigslist or other classified ads site if you know where to look!

The “how to make a hobo stove out of a tin can” is a simple project that requires only the use of two materials. The first material is an empty tin can, and the second material is some type of fuel.

Hobo stove tin can fire.

The simple hobo stove originated during the Great Depression. Before the Depression, No. 10 tin cans had become a typical container of food items such as coffee and fruit, and they were abundant. Hobos created luggage, water containers, and stoves out of cans due to a lack of supplies. Today, the hobo stove is utilized by hobos as well as budget campers. The small weight of the container makes it an ideal hiking burner.

The hobo stove is basic in construction yet quite effective. Air is drawn into the stove by convection via the open door and air vents at the bottom of the container and up towards the open top. The metal reflects the heat back into the fire, enabling the stove to produce a lot of heat in a small area. Once the fire is lit, just lay a skillet or pot on top of the can, and supper will be ready in no time.

Here’s how to make a hobo stove for all your cooking and warming requirements whether you’re seeking for a cheap, lightweight alternative to traditional backpacking stoves, find yourself in an urban survival scenario, or just desire to live the hobo lifestyle.

Assemble your materials

Hobo stove supplies tin can bottle opener knife.

A can, a knife, and a can opener are all you need to construct a hobo stove. Any can will suffice. I used a large coffee can, but any sort of can would do, even a soda can with the top cut off. A larger can is simpler to cut into and produces a larger fire/more heat, but if you’re carrying it hiking, you’ll definitely want to opt for a smaller can.

Cut Door

To feed wood to the stove, we’ll need to carve a “door” into the container. Make it a little bigger than usual – broader rather than taller. If you’re using a can the same size as mine, aim for 6 inches broad and 4 inches tall.

Instead of positioning your door so that the open mouth of the can sits on the ground, cut it so that the metal bottom of the can sits on the ground. There are a few benefits to the former orientation over the latter: For starters, it enables you to remain anonymous. Because your fire burnt on the metal bottom rather than the earth, you won’t leave any burn scars on the ground when you leave your spot. Second, the metal bottom reflects heat more effectively, resulting in a hotter fire. If the open top is facing the ground, you won’t receive that.

Hobo stove marking door at bottom of can.

Drawing the shape of your door on the can with a Sharpie marker isn’t required, but it may assist.

Hobo stove cutting door vent in bottom of can.

Cut off the stove door with a knife. If you like, you may cut out the complete square. However, I simply cut along the sides and bottom, leaving the top uncut. This makes a jerry-rigged damper, which you may use to regulate the fire. When you’re putting wood in the stove and getting the fire going, fold the door up and open; when you want the fire to die down and the heat in the stove to keep you warm, fold it down and closed.


Hobo stove cut vent in bottom of can.

If you do opt to keep the flap connected to the can, fold it up carefully. You’re dealing with some sharp metal edges. To help pry it up, I used my knife. Wearing some work gloves while doing this is a good idea.

With a can opener, create air vents.

Hobo stove using bottle opener to put vents in tin can.

To burn, fire need the presence of oxygen. While our container has a large entrance, we could utilize additional routes to let air into the stove. Create air vents all over the bottom rim of the stove using a can opener.

Hobo stove vents in tin can from bottle opener.

Do the same thing with the top.

Can that has been completed

Hobo stove for camping backpacking hitchhiking.

She isn’t very attractive, but she will get the job done.

Set ablaze

Hobo stove gathering fuel tinder kindling for fire.

For your fire, gather lots of tinder and kindling-size sticks. Your fire will burn hot and quick with this stove. It’ll need all the gasoline it can obtain.

Hobo stove lit fire in a tin can.

Get a fire going. As the other ends of the twigs burn down, you may push them farther into the container. If your cooking pan isn’t big enough to go over the top of the can, you can make a grate out of metal screens or a collection of metal coat hangers criss-crossed on top of each other to fit on top of your hobo stove. Improvise.

Hobo stove for camping backpacking hitchhiking.

Take a look at that scavenged stove! Perfect for playing the harmonica while preparing turtle soup.



The “rocket stove” is a type of stove that uses a rocket fuel to create heat. It can be used for cooking, heating water, or boiling water.

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