I was reading through some older posts on Hammock Forums (www.hammockforums.net) and found an interesting idea for a ‘twig stove”. A twig stove is a backpacking stove that doesn’t require you to carry any fuel with you, but you simply gather twigs and small sticks when you reach your campsite to make a small fire to heat water/cook with.
There are several commercially made models available, but the posts I read mentioned a simple DIY (do-it-yourself) model made from titanium foil. The simple design intrigued me, so I proceeded to make plans for my own version. My plan was to make a working prototype for my stove out of aluminum foil, and once I had a design i liked I could use my titanium foil (which is substantially more expensive).
For my first attempt I used harvested my foil from a disposable aluminum cookie sheet. While ultimately it worked and I was able to get two cups of water boiling, the “stove” itself was wayyyy too flimsy and was not viable after just one use.
So after my first failed attempt I took the lessons learned and went back to the lab again to cook up a new fire ring.
This time I purchased a heavier grade disposable aluminum roasting pan like you’d use for a turkey. I cut two pieces out in the proper dimensions , one was about half inch longer all the way around than the other, if that makes sense. Then I folded the smaller piece inside the larger piece along the top and bottom to give my ring a little more structure than just a single layer would provide.
After that I drilled 1/4″ holes in the piece one inch from the top and bottom at 1″ intervals for ventilation.
Then I was ready to test again so to the back yard I went. I spent a few minutes gathering and processing fuel (pencil sized and smaller sticks) until I was sure I had enough to achieve a boil.
Once the fire was going good I put my water on to boil. One load of sticks got me to a good simmer, but ultimately I had to take the pot (repurposed tomato can) off the fire and add a little more fuel. It was a very simple process, thankfully. That did the trick, and a boil soon followed. I made a cup of coffee as a reward for my efforts and thought about lessons learned this time around.
- The reinforced aluminum worked SO MUCH BETTER. It really helped having the extra structural integrity to work in and with.
I fashioned a small “screen stake” out of a piece of wire hanger. Just a few inches long with a bend in it. It held the screen in place beautifully, which was something I had trouble with in my last failed attempt.
- Notches in the top for cross-pieces/pot rests instead of trying to thread them through the ventilation holes. So much easier!
- I can’t say enough how much I love my Vargo Ultimate Fire Starter. I started the fire with the ferro-rod and kept it going and blazing hot by gently blowing through the tube. Great piece of kit.
What I need to work on:
- A reliable closure for the screen. The least little pressure seems to make it want to fly apart at the closure. I’m going to study what Zelph did on my recently purchased windscreen for ideas.
- Something to protect the ground with. Both times the piece of aluminum I placed underneath my burn melted through.
- My fire skills. This is mainly a patience issue, really. I get in too much of a hurry.
- I need to find a pot with a good lid. Both times I’ve done this, I’ve had “smokey” coffee!
- A way to store my screen and pot, and to clean them. The can I am currently using is super sticky and sooty after just two burns. Some cleaning and maintenance will definitely be required.
I’m almost ready to make the final product, I think. Before I do, does anyone out there have any ideas or suggestions for me to improve my concept? Comment below! Thanks!