Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Doomsday Prepping Family Night: DIY Buddy Burners

DIY Buddy Burners or Emergency Fuel Sources
**I have written these two other posts on preparedness you may be interested to check out!**
Letters to My Sister: Time to Prepare!
Letters to My Sister: Things to Read, Buy, Learn and Do to Prepare

See?! I told you I'd get these done this month! Just in case you are wondering what "these" things are let me fill you in. These are called Buddy Burners. They are emergency fuel sources that can burn for about 2 hours each. They are usually put inside a of #10 can with a small cutout, while lit, so that they can heat the #10 can's surface - creating a nice makeshift stove while camping or enduring an emergency of some kind. Because the paraffin wax is flammable, the whole top surface of these cans will light once you get them going.

They cost between $5-8 a piece if you buy them online. Or they cost about a $1 a piece if you make them yourself. We bought a 10lb. slab of paraffin wax from Hobby Lobby for $21.93, with shipping. The rest of the supplies we acquired over time (tuna fish cans, and cardboard boxes.)

A ten pound slab of paraffin will make about 20 or so Buddy Burners. (We made 16 with about 3/4 of our slab, but ran out of cans to fill.) The whole process took us about 5 hours from start to finish. Hopefully this blog post could help the process go a bit faster for you!

Here's how you make your very own buddy burners at home:

Measure those tuna cans!
Step #1: Cut up cardboard into even strips so that the corrugated edge shows along either side. We had three different sizes of tuna cans. Accordingly, we cut up strips into 1.25, 1.5, and 2 inch wide strips.

Strip on left side - WRONG. Strip on right side - CORRECT.
Step #2: Wrap up strips around a centeral cardboard wick piece to fill the tuna cans. Wrap them so they are snug, but not squishing the corrugated openings closed. 
Cans ready for wax.
Step #3: Chisel your slab of parafin wax up into small chunks and shavings.

Or, just chisel up Daddy's workbench. That works, too. ;)
The chiseled paraffin wax pieces.

 Step #4: Prepare a double boiler to melt the wax. I used my pot, steamer insert, and three glass jars. Melt the wax inside the glass jars until it is completely clear.

Just getting started. . .

Almost ready to be poured! Just a few more pieces to melt.
 Step #5: Using a rag you don't care about, and an oven mit, pick up a jar with melted wax. Slowly and steadily pour the hot wax from the glass jar into the cardboard-filled tuna cans.  Expect spillage. We did the pouring on a piece of wood to keep our counter clear of wax. I found pouring with the lip of the glass jar near the top of the wick, and letting the wax spread out through the can on its own was the easiest way to get an even pour with the least amount of spillage.

Wax spillage.

Keep a scraper handy to scrape up and remelt spilt wax. Waste not, want not!
 **Tips: Make sure the paraffin wax is completely clear and melted before you start to pour! I made the mistake of being too impatient, and pouring when it was only halfway there and this was the result - it dried up at the top before the wax could drip down and fill all the holes! Also, remember to just pour from the center. The hot wax will fill each round of holes and spill over to the next without you having to pour all over the place. Just keep pouring from the center, slow and steady.

What your buddy burners will look like if you don't follow my tips.
See the difference between them? Have patience and pour from the center.
Wax-filled buddy burners, just cooling off. :)
Step #6: Let them sit out overnight to cool - and congratulations! You're done, and you have some awesome cheap little fuel sources ready for whenever the apocolypse happens . . . or for when you decide to go camping. ;)

Happy Buddy-Burner-Making!!


  1. I found some old-school bulletin board border that was corrigated . It was a little wavy and it fit perfectly into a can like you see above. Just roll it up, stuff it in and fill it full of wax. Burning inside will cause some smoke due to the burning of the cardboard so may need to be an "outdoor" cooking fire. But still, it works great. And if worse comes to worst........ a little smoke can be tolerated I'm sure. I found the corrigated bulletin board border at a flea market..... 8 rolls for $1 !

  2. my cans were not tuna cans...... mine were chicken cans (little larger and taller)



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