When the zombie apocalypse comes, I’m happy to have a Girl Scout in my corner. A standard of survival training for Boy and Girl Scouts since I was a Tenderfoot. Hobo stoves use recycled cans to make an easy, efficient and portable cooking station to use when camping, during power outages, or when you need to grab a quick bite before throngs of zombies descend to eat your brains.
Assembled using a tuna can, a cardboard box and old candles or paraffin, a “buddy burner” provides a quick and efficient heat source for cooking in the field. Small enough to tuck into a backpack, buddy burners are an easy choice for camping, but a surplus supply stored at home can also come in handy for those times when a blackout threatens to put the kibosh on dinner.
But what’s a burner without a cooktop? Hobo stoves, made from large recycled cans perforated to allow airflow, provide a stable, windproof and fireproof housing for buddy burners with a level top on which to cook and even a damper to control the cooking temperature. Pork and beans may be a camping staple, but with a hobo stove, everything from lasagna to stir fry becomes campsite cuisine.
Hobo stoves take few tools and just a couple of minutes to make, so you can pack a full can and construct your stove on-site after you’ve used the contents. Gourmet aspirations aside, ours was, in fact, full of pork and beans.
Melt wax from old candles or store-bought paraffin and pour slowly over the cardboard. Once full, wait a couple of minutes and re-fill after the cardboard has soaked up the wax. Repeat if necessary until completely saturated. Allow to dry completely and store in a cool, dry place until ready to use.