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July 13, 2012

RECYCLING STERNO FUEL CANS. Using cardboard and wax.


If your survival gear includes Sterno ‘canned heat’, or if you camp often enough to use up the gel fuel, save the empty cans. You can recycle them with some cardboard strips and paraffin wax.

Cut the cardboard into strips about a quarter inch shorter than the inside of the can is tall. Cut against the ‘grain’ of the cardboard, so that the open ends are upwards as you see. Loosely pack the can.


Melt any old candle wax from stubs or whatever you have handy, or if you wish, buy the packaged “Gulfwax” from your grocery. Pour the melted wax as you see here, into the cardboard to within about a quarter inch of the top of the cardboard. Let cool, which will take a while.

When ready to use your recycled fuel can, just light it off with a match, and after a couple minutes of spreading, the flame will be nice enough to cook with.  Use the lid to extinguish the flame.


There are also other methods for recycling your fuel cans. Strips of cloth rolled into a bundle that will fit inside the can can be used as a wick for burning denatured alcohol. Make the strips similarly to your cardboard and wax method. Add the alcohol carefully until the fabric is well saturated, but not ‘swimming’ in the alcohol. You will have to be more careful while lighting this fuel, it will tend to “poof” at you as you approach with your lit match. So, I recommend staying a few inches back and sort of toss the match into the can. No waiting required to begin cooking with this method.

Silas Longshot.

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