DIY Buddy Burners

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    Building and igniting a fire over which to keep warm or cook a wilderness dinner is something we've all discussed many times. By now it should be burned into our brains (no pun intended) what we need to create a fire and get it roaring. Collecting items for that fire or improvising with other items in your pack is great, but so is getting right to the point by having something small that burns easily.

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    For sale in many online outlets and probably stores as well is something called a Buddy Burner. This is a handy little device that makes for a great camp stove or source of warmth and is intended for use inside of a larger can to heat the larger can so it is able to serve as a cooktop. This burner promises about 2 hours of emergency fuel and is easy enough to buy if you wish, but is also easy to make. The choice is yours, but if you wish to consider making some, you will need corrugated cardboard, paraffin wax, and some #10 cans. As far as the cans go, think tuna cans. If you like tuna, take this as an opportunity to have some tuna snacks and save your cans to make burners. If you do not like tuna, there are other canned foods that come in similar size cans for your snacking pleasure; just be sure to keep the cans when you are done.

    To get started, cut your corrugated cardboard into strips slightly narrower than the width of the cans you intend to use. You want your cardboard to come up to the top of the can but not much higher in order to keep the wax contained. Once your cardboard is cut, line it inside of your cans in a circular shape, such as if you are making continuous rings. Since a " thick cardboard wick needs to be placed into the center, it is easiest to wrap your cardboard around the intended wick. The cardboard does not need to be so tight that the holes in each ring are crushed, but you do want to have a good bit of cardboard in the can, so stop short of crushing those holes.

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    The next step is adding paraffin wax, which needs to be melted first. To melt it, you need to create a double boiler affect, such as with a couple of mason jars inside a pot of water which is then heated. Paraffin wax is flammable so take care not to expose it to any sort of flame when melting it. Be sure to melt the wax thoroughly until it is completely transparent or else it will be difficult to pour and might begin to re-harden before you get it all in place. Since spillage is likely, you might want to lay out some newspaper or old rags you are ready to discard before pouring the wax into your cans. Once you are ready to pour, start in the center of the can and pour until full. Don't worry about getting wax in every little hole and try to pour some sort of elaborate pattern as the wax will travel to fill each hole on its own.

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    Let your burners dry overnight and they will be ready for storage or use (whichever applies) the following day. Do keep in mind when making these that boiling water as well as melted paraffin wax are both very hot so take great care not to get either of them on your skin. Also exercise caution when placing your lit Buddy Burner beneath a can and when removing it due to the possibility of burns. Used carefully, Buddy Burners make for an easy heat source for cooking on the go and are also worthwhile items to have in your stash.

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