The Buddy Burner  is rumored to be the emergency heat source preferred by Scouts, WW II GI’s, HOBO’s, Hikers, Woodsmen and of course homeless people everywhere.they have been called by many names like the trench stove, Hobo heater and more but we like Buddy burner cause its more funner!

We made up a few with some excess material and had fun with them while camping. We thought of some other easy uses for this cheap and easy heat source. You lnow it actually could save the lives of your family in a winter no-heat emergency. As a family project you could make them and distribute them to homeless people, or even people who look homeless. We could give them to charities involved with providing assistance to homeless people who don’t live in shelters.

We gave them as christmas presents. Yes, we are frugal givers and they were stocking stuffers for family and friends. It also gave us an opening to talk about preparedness with an act of kindness. Sure many probably tossed them while questions my birth rite but for those who inquired thought it was a crafty idea, I am The Salty Dawg not the Crafty Dawg but they got the point!

These are pretty simple to make and can be done cheaply.

Most of the Materials can be found anywhere. The paraffin was the biggest pain to find cause they aint selling it everywhere. The Materials are as follows. Some Plain corrugated cardboard (not printed with bright inks or coated with wax or plastic) Brown Boxex works great the larger the holes in the corregation works best forsaturation, flat tuna cans, flat pet food cans, and/or flat pineapple cans, and their lids. Now this was where we opted out because of the sharp edges and the Girl scouts twernt a good combination!

#10 can (the large institutional size) candle wax or paraffin. We also had people saving us their spent candles for the past year and we melted those down to add color and some smells good to the mix.

The original recipe called for these Tools: punch-type can opener tin snips to make a storm stove out of the #10 can but we recommend a Kelly Kettle and or the Eydon ketle those are fantastic! We also elected not to use the lids from the tuna cans as a cap or cover because the lids had sharp edges and so we chunked ’em. (oops, we recycled them)

These are the easy Steps to creating the Buddy Burner

Step One:

Cut the cardboard in strips whose width is the height of the can — across the corrugations, so that the holes show. Roll the strips until the cardboard roll fits snugly into the can.

Step Two:

Melt the wax. It is best to use a double boiler, as if the wax gets too hot, it can burst into flame. You can improvise a double boiler by putting water in a large pan, and then setting a smaller pan into the water. Each tuna can will take about 4 ounces of wax. We stuck the cans of wax right in the water and it got soft enough to pour. We softened the used candle wax left in jar by placeing them in the sunoven until itgot soft enough to spoon out into a larger jar and then we placed that in the water until it was soft enough to pour.

Step Thrice:

When the wax is melted, slowly pour it into the buddy burner so that it runs down into the holes and saturates the corrugated cardboard and fill the can to the rim. You can put a small piece of cardboard sticking up or a candle wick in the middle to help start it, but this isn’t required. Let it cool and harden. To light it, set it on a brick or concrete block or anything stable right now. Put a lighted match in the middle of the can or light the wick. The flame will spread across the top of the can; don’t freak out mate, that’s what it’s supposed do.

To use for cooking: Cut out one end of the #10 can. Use the tin snips to cut a 3″ high and 4″ wide “door” on one side of the can at the open end. Leave the top of the door uncut. Bend this flap of metal up so the door is “open”. Take the punch-type can opener, and make 3 or 4 holes on the other side of the can at the top (this is your chimney). Light the tuna can as described above, and place the #10 can over the Buddy Burner and place a pan with whatever you want to cook on top of the #10 can. This “#10 can stove” can be adapted to fuels like twigs, charcoal or charcoal briquets, but these shouldn’t be used indoors. Charcoal briquets shouldnever be used indoors under any circumstances. The fumes will kill you before the cold does.


To regulate the flame for heating or cooking, use the can lid as a damper. Place it over all of the flame to extinguish the fire, or cover it partially to regulate the amount of flame. You can also use a piece of aluminum foil (several thicknesses folded), that is larger than the tuna can. this is what we used and our leather gloves gave us plenty of insulation from the heated surface but be sure to Handle the damper with a pot holder, gloves, or a pair of plyers, or punch a couple of holes in the edges of the lid and use some wire to make a handle or whatever keeps you from burning your little fingers.


To refill the buddy burner, place small amounts of wax on the cardboard while the burner is operating. As long as it has wax, it will function. It is sometimes hard to see the top end of the flame so be careful when you are pouring in the wax.


Baking: Using tuna cans as little pans, anything you would bake in a regular oven can be baked on top of the #10 can stove. Simply place another #10 can over your baking pan and its an oven! We use our oven for the oven portion but I suppose if this is what you got then “eh it will do in a pinch.


Emergency heat: Now this is where this got practical in a hurry. Don’t put the #10 can over the buddy burner, as it makes more smoke with the #10 can than without. Light the buddy burner, let it warm up a room and remember that it is easier to heat a room than a house, and it is easier to heat a room if you are bundled up warmly. Which is to say, a winter no-heat emergency is not a time to expect that you can walk around the house barefoot and in shorts. As soon as the room is warm, extinguish the buddy burner. We used it in the truck, yeah I know you are not supposed to have an open flame in a closed off space, its good that you know that but we cracked a window and vented the space as we were heating the space. You wouold be amazed at how much it helped to be able to warms your fingers and how much heat was actually produced off of this little burner. I was so impressed that we made some more and covered thm with several wraps of alluminum foild ( to be used as a cover later) put them into zip lock bags (in case it got to warm and it got messy) and put them in with our winter go bags for the vehicles.

All in all this was a fun, informative project that everyone participated in. We used them in pratical real time situations as well as used them in what if scenerios and these simple little burners worked like a charm. I dont supposed if the lights went out tomorrow it would be  all fun and games scrambling around to find all the ingrediants and the materials it takes to build them. If someone had a preparedness kind of outlook they could make the babies up and have them hanging around in case some Buddy needs a Burner ( did you see how I turned that little phrase?)


I hope you try this little project with your family and remember to laugh along the way.


The Salty Dawg

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