How to Make a Portable Heat Source
Let’s say you are tent camping in the pouring rain, and you are soaked to the skin. Your commonsense tells you to make a fire quickly, but every available stick and kindling you find is equally soaked. What would you do? Not a fun situation to find yourself in, especially if the temperature begins to fall. If you are not careful hypothermia can set in quickly, so it goes without saying, making a fire as fast as possible is vital to your well-being.
Hopefully, you will never find yourself in this circumstance or countless other scenarios where you need to make a fire fast. However, if you do, here is one speedy way to craft a small portable long burning heat source. An added bonus is it also provides plenty of light, it’s cheap, and super easy to make. You could even cook over it if needed. However the best part about this little device is you do not need any wood or kindling to get this fire burning, and keep it burning, making it ideal in many situations. All you need is four household items. All are readily available, inexpensive and relatively lightweight, making them ideal to carry on a camping trip, or to store in your vehicles emergency kit.
You will need a medium-sized metal coffee can with plastic lid, one regular-sized roll of toilet paper; the quality multi-ply seems to work better than the generic single ply paper-thin variety. One or more bottles of isopropyl alcohol also referred to as rubbing alcohol. Finally, you will need matches or a lighter to light your homemade heater. I keep a stash of strike-anywhere matches in a plastic baggy tucked into the center tube of the roll of paper.
Start by placing the roll of toilet paper into the metal coffee can—ideally the roll will fit perfectly into the canister. Second, pour the entire bottle of alcohol over the toilet paper let it soak in completely. The final step is to light the alcohol-drenched toilet paper and let it burn.
A 16 oz. bottle of alcohol can burn for several hours. If you need more burn time, wait until the flame goes out completely or suffocate the low flame with the lid. Turn the toilet paper over, slip it back into the can and saturate the same roll with another bottle of alcohol. This process can be repeated numerous times, as long as you keep the paper wet with alcohol—a good reason to carry a few bottles of alcohol with you.
As with any flammable liquid, do NOT pour any alcohol on an open flame, wait until the fire goes out completely before you add more alcohol. Be extremely cautious when handling as the can maybe hot to the touch. Flames may go above the top of the can, especially if it is windy, so be sure to place your homemade furnace away from flammable items such as clothing and place furnace on a safe surface while burning.
When you need a fire in a hurry, this quick and cheap furnace provides a heat source ideal in emergency situations and works well for an extended period of time in smaller spaces.