How To Make A Hobo Stove: 9 Plans

  • Published on September 16th, 2015

how to make a hobo stove

For four years now, rocket stoves have been our biggest attraction here at sustainablog: my list of plans for making these super efficient wood stoves has topped our list of popular posts pretty much from its publication. As such, I try to keep an eye out for similar topics, even with our shift to a focus on waste. So, I’m scratching my head on why I haven’t gotten to hobo stoves sooner.

What’s a hobo stove? The name gives you a good idea: a portable cooking stove made from cast-off materials. Some rocket stoves even fall into the category – those made from tin cans, for instance – but while the rocket stove concept focuses on efficient use of wood fuel, the idea behind a hobo stove is reuse of materials and easy portability. While wood is often the fuel used, it doesn’t have to be: several of the designs I’ve come across revolves around other fuel sources.

Need a cook stove for camping? If you’ve got a coffee can, or even an aluminum drink can, in your recycling bin, you’ve got the basics covered. You can keep one around the house, too, for those times when the power goes out, or if you just want to try something different.

Use a hobo stove? Did you make it yourself? Tell us about the plan you used…

The DIY Hobo Stove: Nine Plans

The Super Basic Model: As the name implies, hobo stoves can be made on the go… and, as such, basic models require very little in terms of materials or tools. This design from Instructables is about as simple as it gets: if you’ve got a can and something to cut pieces out of it, you’re in business.

Another Very Basic Model: Pain Chaud’s video walk you through another fairly basic model. He does use power tools, but I don’t think you’d need them:

The Slightly Higher Tech Version: As you might expect, Mother Earth News has a hobo stove plan, and it’s just a bit fancier than the first one. You need some thick wire for this one… like a coat hanger.

The Hobo Stove with Pot Rack: Want some flexibility with the size pot you’re going to use? PracticalSurvivor.com’s hobo stove plan incorporates coat hanger wire as a pot rack.

The Plan with Options: Wikihow has thorough instructions for making (and using) a hobo stove that include several options. Think about how you might want to use your stove, and then build away.

The Soda Can Stove: This plan from eHow’s Jonathan Fong uses a soda can, and burns denatured alcohol for fuel. Very handy and portable, but a little more intensive in terms of making.

The Two Can Wood Gasifier: Treehuger’s Sami Grover found this plan at Permaculture Magazine:

The Hobo Stove with Tuna Can Burner: This plan from the DIY Network is a lot like our other basic models, but includes a “burner” in a tuna can. Don’t want to hunt for wood? Some cardboard and candle wax can also work…

The IKEA Hack Hobo Stove: I almost didn’t include this because it involves the temptation to buy materials rather than reuse, but if you’ve got an old IKEA cutlery stand around (or, ok, if you want to go buy one), you can easily make this hobo stove from our friends at Knowledge Weighs Nothing.

Photo credit: Screen capture from “How to…make a Hobo stove! HD” video

About the Author

Jeff McIntire-Strasburg is the founder and editor of sustainablog. You can keep up with all of his writing at Facebook, and at