How to Build a Soup Can Stove: An Easy Way to Cook in the Wilderness

How to Build a Soup Can Stove

Cooking is one of the most challenging tasks when it comes to camping. While it is convenient to bring pre-packed foods at the campsite, some prefer eating something fresh that they can cook by themselves. If you are one of these people, then you will need a stove.

There are tons of options for portable stoves in the market. They can be expensive, bulky, and heavy. So, if you are packing light and would want to save money, you need to learn how to build a soup can stove, which is exactly what we will be talking about in the rest of this brief guide.

Cans of pre-made soups, such as Campbell’s, can be a lifesaver at the campsite. With a single tool and a little effort to spare, it won’t take long before you can have a make-shift stove and start cooking delicious meals even without a fully-functioning kitchen at the campsite.

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Build a Soup Can Stove

Ready to take your camping cooking skills to the next level? Below are the steps on how you can convert a simple can into an amazing stove.

1. Find a Can

The first thing that you need to do is to look for a soup can. The most popular choice is a can of Campbell’s soup. Find a can that is large enough to hold the fuel or anything else that will help to sustain the fire in the stove. It is also important that the can is large or sturdy so that it can hold a pot or whatever will be placed on top as you cook.

2. Punch Holes at the Bottom

Once you have the can ready, the next step is to make the air inlets. These are the holes that you can find in the top and bottom part of the can. This is where the air will pass through, making it easier to keep the fire burning while also controlling the smoke.

You will need an old-style can tap or opener to make the vents. To create the air inlet on the stove, there are three simple steps. Start by punching a hole on the side wall near the bottom of the can. Next, punch a hole in the bottom of the can, exactly under the first hole that you have just punched. This part of the can is thicker than the upper portion, so you will need to exert more effort when punching a hole. Insert the can punch back into the first air vent that you made. Push the metal flaps toward the bottom of the can. Bend it under the can until it becomes stable enough to create a stand. Do it three more times since you need four air intakes in a standard-sized soup can. If the can is bigger, you will need to punch more holes.

3. Punch Holes at the Top

Now, proceed to the top part of the can. You need to make more holes, which will help to keep the smoke and fire inside the can. This is simpler than punching holes in the bottom part of the can. Punch eight holes around the can depending on its size. Make sure to bend the edges on the top of the can so that you won’t end up hurting yourself.

4. Light it Up and Cook

Find a surface, preferably flat, and set-up the soup can stove. Adjust the feet of the stove to make sure that it remains stable. For some people, they use a metal base to hold the pot or pan, while in most cases, you can cook directly on the top of the can. However, make sure that the pot or pan is not too big or too heavy as it will make the soup can unstable.

Before you cook, fill the bottom part with small twigs, preferably the size of a matchstick. Then, fill it with bigger twigs. On the top part, use branches that are almost the same size as your index finger. Light it up, wait until there is fire, and you can now start cooking!

Pro Tips

Now that your stove is ready, below are some tips to keep in mind when you are cooking outdoors using your soup can stove.

  • Keep it simple. Do not stress yourself out by choosing recipes with complicated steps and a lot of ingredients. The key to survival when you are outdoors is to have a filling meal without exerting a lot of effort.
  • Look for a place where you can cook. Ideally, this should not be where there are dried leaves or branches. They can be serious fire hazards, so stay away from items that can easily burn and cause fire to spread.
  • Place the stove on a level surface. If not, it will be wobbly when you have the stove or pot on the top. It can flip anytime, which means that your food will go to waste or you can accidentally set the campsite on fire.
  • Bring an aluminum foil before you head to the campsite. This will be a useful material when it comes to cooking. You can wrap meat, fish, and vegetables in the foil and set it on top of the fire in your soup can stove. This way, there is no need to go through the hassle of bringing pots and pans.
  • If you are using pots and pans, one of the best practices is to coat the exterior with a dish soap. This makes cleaning them easier once you are done with cooking. However, make sure that soap does not get into the interior of the pan as this will affect the flavor of whatever dish you are preparing.
  • Find an area that is away from direct wind. When it is too windy, it will be more difficult to sustain the fire and the make-shift stove can be easily knocked down when the wind is too strong.  


Even with something as simple as a soup can, you can make a stove yourself! As shown in the steps mentioned above, this is easy. Even if you are a novice camper, this will be almost effortless on your end. Within a few minutes, you can have a makeshift stove that you can use for preparing mouthwatering food even when you are outdoors.

How to Build a Soup Can Stove: An Easy Way to Cook in the Wilderness
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About the author

Michael Everett

I am Michael, I like camping and have camped many times over the place. I'm the creator of blog, through my blog I want to share my camping and travel experiences for people, there are explanations, questions and things you need.

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