The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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DIY Budget Outdoor Burner

By Vicki McClure Davidson


Boy and Girl Scouts, youth groups, homeschoolers, and campers have been making these budget outdoor burners for years.

Cheap and efficient, you can make a number of them in a short period of time.


Cut the cardboard into a strip that is as wide as the tuna can is high. Roll it to fit tightly inside the tuna can. If you want to add some dryer lint to make this burner ignite better, put it in now (not too much).

In a double boiler (this is a large pan filled halfway with water with a smaller pan on top of the water; don't let any water get into the pan that will hold the paraffin), put in some paraffin chunks. Cook on the stove at a low to medium heat until it's melted. Carefully pour the melted paraffin into the tuna can—this is extremely hot, so use caution and potholders.

Cut a square-ish flap on the lip of the coffee can, and punch two holes on the opposite side of the can, near the can's bottom. This will serve as your cooking station. The holes and flap allow air to get inside so that the flame from the burner will stay ignited.

To cook, on a flat surface (the ground is the best), light the paraffin in the tuna can and place the coffee can over it. Place a pan on top of the coffee can to cook.

Note: The can used to make this burner doesn't have to be a tuna can. Any other short can of the same dimensions, such as cat food, single-serving diced fruit, or minced seafood, can be used to make the burner.



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