There is just something about cooking over an open flame.
One of my favorite camping activities we did in Girl Scouts was learning to make and then cook on a buddy burner stove.
I couldn’t wait to try the activity with my own kids. Your kids will enjoy cooking outside as part of some fun backyard camp activities this summer.
Whether you are looking for a camping activity to do with kids, or you are searching for a DIY emergency cooking stove, learning how to make a buddy burner and tin can stove can be a great family experience.
Your kids will also have fun learning how to mark a trail with sticks & rocks.
Buddy Burner Stove
- corrugated cardboard (not printed with bright inks or coated)
- short, flat tuna can or pet food can
- candle wax, old crayons, or paraffin
- empty large metal coffee can (or other #10 can, like the large vegetable cans schools use)
- punch style bottle opener
- tin snips
- empty soup can (to melt wax in)
How to Make a Buddy Burner
Start by cutting your corrugated cardboard into long strips the same width as the height of your tuna can. (We cut ours a bit too wide, causing it to stick out and our stove to get too hot.)
Make sure to cut across the corrugation so the holes show on the sides. Roll your cardboard tightly and fit it into the tuna can.
Next, melt your wax.
You can use an old double boiler, or improvise by placing your wax in an empty soup can and then placing it in a pot of water on the stove. (Be sure to use tongs to remove the soup can, as it will be hot!)
Carefully pour the melted wax over the cardboard in your can. Make sure the melted wax goes into corrugation holes.
Fill the can at least 1/2 way with wax.
Then let the wax harden.
This may be the perfect time to do a few camping crafts with the kids to get them excited about camping.
Tin Can Camp Stove
A DIY tin can stove can be used for camping or as an emergency stove.
Use your can opener to make punch marks approximately 2 inches apart, all around the bottom of your #10 can.
Next, use your snips to cut a rectangular opening at the top of the can. You want the opening to be just big enough to slide your buddy burner through.
Buddy Burner Cooking
To cook with your buddy burner and tin can stove, simply light the buddy burner and slide your #10 can over it.
You can cook directly on your large can, if you want, or you can use an empty tuna fish can or even a small skillet.
If you choose to cook directly on the can top, spray it with a bit of cooking spray first to prevent food from sticking.
We made simple cheese quesadillas on ours by placing a tortilla on top, adding shredded cheese and folding the tortilla in half.
Lightly brown each side, using a spatula to flip the quesadilla over half way through cooking.
With a bit of salsa and sour cream on the side, they turned out pretty yummy.
You can also use your camp stove to cook eggs (even egg in a basket), grilled cheese, pancakes, and more.
Caution: The can will get very hot. Children should be supervised at all times. Please consider the ages of your children. I would not attempt this with kids under 8.
When you are finished cooking, do not try to blow the buddy burner out. (The wind will make it flair up.)
Using tongs or oven mitts, flip the #10 can upside down and use the flat end to smother the flame.
You can re-use your buddy burner by adding more wax to it. (In fact, you can add pieces of wax to it while it is still burning, making sure it is ready for the next time you plan to use it.)
Learning to make and cook on a buddy burner stove is a fun camping activity you can do with the kids in your own backyard.
More camping activities you may like:
- How to Make a Duct Tape Sit-Upon
- Awesome Camp Crafts
- Let’s Go Camping with Kids: 40 Tips, Activities, Games & Recipes from Mom with a Lesson Plan
Originally published July 31, 2016.