The only hard part about making an oven out of a #10 can is finding a can actually still made out of metal. Once upon a time you could walk into any grocery store and buy a metal can of coffee, but plastic is king now and those days are gone.
Boy Scouts have been making tin can cookers to use a portable outdoor stoves for decades. If a 10-year-old boy can make an oven out of a #10 can, so can you. This project requires the use of just a few simple tools and only about a half an hour of your time.
One of the best attributes of tin can cookers, or hobo stoves, is the small and varied type of fuel they need to operate. You can use just small chips of wood, fairly dried brush and twigs, or even cardboard that has been coated in wax.
How To Make An Oven Out Of A #10 Can
There are several different ways to turn a #10 can into a survival oven. Before you begin the project, you must decide if you want the can to have a bottom or a top.
If the stove is made with a bottom you will be able to fill it with your chosen fuel before placing it in a location to cook. If you make a stove that does not have a bottom, which is fine even though it poses a bit more if a fire concern, fuel cannot be loaded until the #10 can oven is place in the cooking spot. Most can ovens that do not have a bottom are placed upon a grate oven an open flame or over a smaller tin can – like a tuna can, to hold the non-liquid fuel.
If you choose to make a stove with a top still on the can, a skillet or pot can be placed directly on top of the can – allowing it to be used like a grill. If the #10 can oven does not have a top, the pot or small skillet will heat more quickly but not be quite as stable during the cooking process.
• #10 Can – A metal 3-pound coffee can works perfectly..if you can find one. A 1-gallon bulk or commercial metal food can works well also.
• Tin Snips
• Metal Punch or a hammer and nail
• Can Opener
• Permanent Marker
• Can Opener
1. Use the can opener to remove ONE of the lids on the #10 can to make a bottom for the stove.
2. Measure and mark a space about 3 inches by 3 inches on the side wall just above the bottom of the #10 can. You are making a door to use as a damper – cut only three sides of measured area so the door or flap can be adjusted to control the heat inside the tin can stove.
3. Near the top of can, use the metal punch or the nail and a hammer to make holes for air ventilation. Typically, it is recommended to make holes all the way around the top rim of the can, spacing each hole about two finger’s width apart. If you have chosen to make tin can oven without a top, the can may bend somewhat when pounding in the nail – brace the can on or around something solid to avoid denting or damaging the metal can anymore than absolutely necessary.
4. Remove any labels on the can to avoid scorching and a foul smell when the oven is used. In a survival situation you want to eliminate as much smoke and odor during the cooking process as possible.
5. If you have chosen to make a stove without a top, placing a slightly smaller can inside the opening to create greater stability during cooking, is highly recommended. A smaller tin can placed inside the larger one will need support to not fall all the way through the bottom.
Simply make four more holes in the #10 metal can and use stiff wire or coat hanger wire to serve as supportive rods to hold the smaller can (cooking surface) in place. This same process can be used if you saved the lid and shaved it down so it can be placed slightly inside the top of the can and used as a cooking surface, as well.
How To Use A #10 Can Oven
1. Build a fire in the oven if it has a bottom or under the stove in a fire ring if it does not have a bottom
2. The tinder you will need to generate enough heat to cook upon or boil water must be fairly dry and fit entirely inside the can to avoid starting far more of a fire than you intended. Leaves, twigs, lint, or chopped up pieces of firewood like you would use in a smoker, work great.
3. Once you have a fire going inside of the tin can cooker, continue to feed the flames by adding more tinder – the smoke will roll out the ventilation holes you poked into the can.
The heat emitted from the #10 can oven will be both intense and uneven. Cast iron or camping cookware is highly recommended for use to avoid damaging cookware designed for a conventional oven.
Practice using the survival emergency oven long before you need it to better gauge fuel usage and cooking time. Start with something simple like making a hot dog or boiling water before advancing onto making stew or large cuts of meat on the #10 can oven.
Tara Dodrill is a homesteading and survival journalist and author. She lives on a small ranch with her family in Appalachia. She has been both a host and frequent guest on preparedness radio shows. In addition to the publication of her first book, ‘Power Grid Down: How to Prepare, Survive, and Thrive after the Lights go Out’, Dodrill also travels to offer prepping tips and hands-on training and survival camps and expos.