By R. Maxine Lundquist
Buddy burners are little heat sources you can make yourself. They’re easy to construct and easy to refuel, and the satisfaction of creating your own heat and cook source can’t be beat. Water boils after about 6 or 7 minutes on a buddy burner outside when it’s cold, so they are very effective little things, and they throw off a lot of heat. There are a few easy precautions that need to be taken, however, to ensure that your buddy burner doesn’t fill your room with poisonous gases. I’m not kidding.
What you need:
- A tuna or pet-food can. Caution #1: many cans today come with a coating, or lining, on the inside. Using these cans for your buddy burner can cause toxic fumes, leading to a condition known as metal fume fever. This is a serious illness that requires prompt medical attention. When making a buddy burner, make certain the can doesn’t have the inside coating, which is why tuna or some pet-food cans are recommended. Pineapple cans also work.
- Paraffin wax. In emergency situations you can also use a solid fat, such as clarified butter or other animal fat, but as this results in a great deal more smoke paraffin wax is best. Beeswax is excellent but expensive.
- Little birthday candles, trimmed at the bottom to height of can
- Corrugated cardboard, cut in lengths to the width of the can
How to put it all together:
Make sure you keep the lid of the can and set aside. Roll cardboard up and place in tin so that the corrugated pattern inside is showing. Place a birthday candle in center of rolled-up cardboard, so that the wick is showing. Melt wax over a double boiler and pour carefully around cardboard until tin is full. Allow to set.
Your buddy burner is now ready for use! Caution #2: Once fully lit the buddy burner creates quite an impressive flame. Be aware of your surroundings and never leave it unattended.
If you wish to put it out, just blow on it or replace lid on top to extinguish the flames. Refuel by placing pieces of was or a tea candle on top while the flame is still going. The wax will melt down into the can.
What you need:
- 1 #10 can, also unlined (a # 10 can is about 13 cup size, or a really large coffee can size)
- A pair of tin snips
- An awl or hole punch
- A pair of safety gloves
What to do:
Wearing your safety gloves and using your tin snips, make two 6″ cuts down the side of the open-end of the can, approximately 4″ apart. Bend piece outward and remove by cutting off with tin snips.
Around the outside of the covered end of the can make a series of holes with the punch. This will allow smoke to escape and improve ventilation.
Light your buddy burner and when the flame is going nicely, place the can upside down over the burner, using the bottom of the large can as the stove top. Place your pot or fry-pan on it for cooking. Caution #3: Be sure you are wearing safety gloves or oven mitts when you want to remove the stove to put the buddy burner out. Sides of can are extremely hot.
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