DIY wax-powered backpack stove: operation - Frank Groffie's miscellany

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You’ve followed what's on the Construction and Preparation pages. Now you’re ready to run your stove, perhaps even in subzero windy weather on a super-remote wilderness trek.

Operating this stove means, more or less, lighting a candle and switching on a fan. Strange, yes, for a backpack stove. But the stove will dependably blast away given proper treatment. Follow these instructions to operate the stove in the wilderness and keep it fueled.

1. Select a level place, outdoors, to set and use the stove. A safe location will one be free of dry combustible plant material and fabric.
2. If there is a breeze, turn the stove so the air inlet and windscreen face upwind. Use this and any stove outside of any tent !

Life-or-Death Warnings !

Do not use any stove or flame in a tent or in any other enclosed, restricted, or poorly ventilated space. The dangers are many:
  • Stoves create carbon monoxide, an odorless, invisible gas that can kill you without warning. It kills 430
     people per year on average in the U.S.
  • Stove use consumes oxygen.
  • Stove flames can light tent fabric, hair, and clothing on fire.
  • The wax stove’s fuel, while it's molten, may be actively burning, and if spilled can burn skin, fabrics,

    and forest materials. Never tilt the stove while hot.

This stove and portable stoves in general will perform safely.
However, careful operation by competent persons, outdoors only, is critical.

3. With the diffuser plate removed, spray a small amount of starter fluid down into the fuel bowl.
4. Light the wick.
5. Place the difuser plate on the stove.
6. Switch on the supercharger, and mate the air tubing on the supercharger with the air inlet hole in the stove.
7. Watch as the flame grows to its maximum, which should take about 2 to 4 minutes. Cookware can be placed on the stove midway during the warmup process.
8. To moderate the flame, the supercharger may be partly disengaged (and left running) or fully disengaged (and switched off).
9. Check the fuel level within the stove periodically. A chunk or two of fuel may need to be added every few minutes. The wax level should always leave about ¼ to ½ inch of wick exposed.


  Don’t let the wick go “dry” and burn up. The wick itself can burn up and destroy itself if there isn’t some
  wax to burn. Maintain at least ½ inch of wax in the stove.

10. To extinguish the stove,

  • Disengage (and switch off) the supercharger.

  • Remove the diffuser plate.

  • Place on the lid.

11. After use, allow at least 10 to 20 minutes, depending on ambient temperatures, for the stove to cool and the wax to solidify before handling the primary stove unit.
12. Protect the supercharger from rain or overnight dew.


Execute this DIY project and use any resulting product solely at your own risk.

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