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Oven from a Cardboard Box   Vagabond Stove   Charcoal Stove    Buddy Burner


How to Make a Campfire Oven
from a Cardboard Box
Click Image Above for a little more detailed diagram

A great way to make cooking fun and memorable for the kids is to construct an oven from an aluminum-foil-covered cardboard box. Any recipe that can be made in a conventional oven is suitable for a box oven. Supervise the construction and actual use for safety reasons. Making it at the campsite is a good activity and may inspire interest in helping to cook over the weekend.

 Parental supervision is necessary with this project due to hazard of fire or personal injury

Materials needed:

Corrugated cardboard box, flaps removed and at least 2 inches bigger than your baking pan
Heavy duty aluminum foil
Empty soda or small juice cans
Oven roasting bag (optional, but recommended for the first try)


Cover the entire inside of the box with heavy-duty foil, shiny side out. Continue up the outside of the box completely covering it. Tape foil to the box, if necessary. Optional is to cut a small square in the top of the box (which is actually the bottom) and tape an oven roasting bag over it to act as a window to check cooking progress.

Fill the cans halfway with water or sand and place them in the area where you will have the fire, on the ground or barbecue. Space apart enough to support the pan you will be using.

For every 40 degrees of heat use at least one charcoal briquette, or as many as 12 for a 9x13-inch pan. Place the briquettes in the middle of the arranged cans and light them.

When coals are heated evenly, spread charcoals out and place prepared pan on the filled cans.

Place prepared box over the baking pan and cans. The box should touch the bottom of the pit or barbecue and encompass the coals. Be sure there is gap for air circulation to keep charcoals burning. A small rock can be placed under one end of the box to prop it up slightly or a small vent flap can be cut at one or both end.

Bake the item for amount of time indicated in the recipe.

Using oven mitts remove the box and pan from the heat.
 Let cool slightly and enjoy.

Vagabond Stove
Hobo Stove


Simplicity itself. 
Made of nothing more than a tin can, and powered by anything that burns - 
charcoal, sterno, or a buddy burner

 It can be used to boil water, fry hamburgers or bacon, toast bread or bake small items.


One gallon (#10) tin can 
Can opener 
Tin snips 
Punch opener 

Cut out one end of the #10 can. Use the tin snips to cut a 3" high and 4" wide "door" on one side of the can at the open end. Leave the top of the door uncut. Bend this flap of metal up so the door is "open". Take the punch-type can opener, and make 3 or 4 holes on the other side of the can at the top (this is your chimney). Light the tuna can as described below, and place the #10 can over the Buddy Burner and place a pan with whatever you want to cook on top of the #10 can. This "#10 can stove" can be adapted to fuels like twigs, charcoal or charcoal briquets, but these shouldn't be used indoors.
 Charcoal briquets should never be used indoors under any circumstances.
 The fumes will kill you before the cold does. 

Use with a small fire or a Buddy Burner 
(how to make a buddy burner).

Place the stove over the lighted charcoal, sterno, or a buddy burner

Cook directly on the top of the can as soon as it's hot enough

Do not touch the stove -
it will get VERY hot!
 Use the door to control the heat.  

 After the stove is heated up for the first time, 
wipe the finish off the tin can with a paper towel.


Buddy Burner

The emergency heat source


Shallow tin can (tuna, dog or cat can) 
Corrugated cardboard
(not printed with bright inks or coated with wax or plastic) 
wood chips (not sawdust)
Paraffin wax (best) or Candle wax
Roll-type can opener
Candle wicks
Double boiler

Using the regular can opener remove the top from the can

Depenfing on Fuel type:

Cardboard - cut into strips only tall enough to reach the top of the can.  Roll the cardboard strips into a coil and place into the can across the corrugations, so that the holes show until the can is full. 

Wood chips - Fill can with wood chips, compressing as tightly as you can. Don't use sawdust as it doesn't burn as long.

Fit a wick in the center of the fuel. 

Melt paraffin in a double boiler, never directly over heat. 

Pour paraffin into can so that it runs down into the holes and saturates the corrugated cardboard and fill the can to the rim

let cool several hours

Light the Buddy Burner with a match.
To light it, set it on a brick or concrete block. Put a lighted match in the middle of the can or light the wick. The flame will spread across the top of the can; that's OK, that's what it's supposed do.

Use with a Vagabond Stove or for emergency fuel or drive four 6" nails into the ground around the Buddy Burner to make a pan rest.

To extinguish the Buddy Burner, remove the Vagabond Stove with a pot holder.
Do not pour water on the flame. 

 Stove will be VERY hot.
Smother the flame with a larger tin can lid or something similar.

 The paraffin wax will be liquid and very hot -
wait till it hardens and cools before handling it.

To use for cooking:

Use a Vagabond Stove

To regulate the flame for heating or cooking, use the can lid as a damper. Place it over all of the flame to extinguish the fire, or cover it partially to regulate the amount of flame. You can also use a piece of aluminum foil (several thicknesses folded), that is larger than the tuna can. Handle the damper with a pot holder, or a pair of plyers, or punch a couple of holes in the edges of the lid and use some wire to make a handle.

To refill the buddy burner, place small amounts of wax on the cardboard while the burner is operating. As long as it has wax, it will function.

Baking: Using tuna cans as little pans, anything you would bake in a regular oven can be baked on top of the #10 can stove. Simply place another #10 can over your baking pan and its an oven!

Emergency heat: Don't put the #10 can over the buddy burner, as it makes more smoke with the #10 can than without.
Light the buddy burner, let it warm up a room and remember that it is easier to heat a room than a house, and it is easier to heat a room if you are bundled up warmly. Which is to say, a winter no-heat emergency is not a time to expect that you can walk around the house barefoot and in shorts. As soon as the room is warm, extinguish the buddy burner.

Charcoal Stove

The charcoal stove has been a basic for years because of it's simplicity, portability, and ease of use.
Made of nothing more than a tin can (at least 4" round) and a few wires.


Tin can (4-10" diameter) 
Clothes hange gauge wire 
Can opener (type that makes triangular holes) 
Regular can opener 
Drill (1/8" bit) 

Procedure (refer to picture for examples):

Using the regular can opener remove both ends from the can. 

Using the other can opener, make a series (8) of holes around the bottom of the can.

Using the drill, make 3 holes on one side of the top of the can, then make 3 more holes directly opposite the first set

Do the same near the middle of the can. 

Run the wire through the holes, from one side to the other, first in the middle holes, then in the top holes.

Crimp both ends of the middle wires down so that they don't slide. 

Crimp one side of the top wires (not both sides), they need to slide in and out for access to the middle wires.


Put paper in the bottom section of the can as tinder for the charcoal. 

Put a couple briquettes (3-4) in the middle section, on the wires. 

Slide the top wires through the holes. 

Ignite the paper so that they start the coals burning. 

After the coals are heated (white) place your pan on the top wires and cook!


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