From Soda Cans to Stoves
George Rue, Outdoor Skills Teaching Fellow
Students working on camp stove project

As we celebrate Earth Week here at Conserve School, we often consider the “ten R’s of sustainability”: Respect, Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Renew, Recycle, Responsibility, Rethink, Replant, and Restore. Last Friday, students in Outdoor Skills did a DIY project that captures the spirit of reusing – building their own camp stoves out of empty soda cans!

Cutting cans to create camp stoves

The first step in this project involved a little dumpster diving out behind the Lowenstine Academic Building. Finding the 32 soda cans needed to create the stoves required some digging, but there’s a lot of potential in discarded materials. Glass jars can hold food and spices, cardboard boxes make great organizing tools, and plastic bottles can be used to grow flowers and herbs. Just be careful not to get some Italian Dressing on your pants while you’re sorting through garbage. Seriously.

measuring and cutting cans

Once all the materials were assembled, the students began cutting, perforating, bending, taping, and filing their cans into shape. It’s a tricky process (involving lots of sharp edges!), but everyone was proud of their finished stoves! With the time left over, they made “stands” out of chicken wire to support pots while cooking in the backcountry. At the end of the class, everyone got to test their stoves outside using a little denatured alcohol for fuel! The entire group was delighted to have made their own pieces of camping gear. Many said they wanted to cook their meals during their solo campouts using their new stoves.

student holding a piece of an aluminum can

In Outdoor Skills class, we emphasize hands-on learning whenever possible – and often our most successful activities combine disciplines in surprising ways. Even though we’re constantly outside the classroom exploring Lowenwood, we strive to create spaces where students can use their imaginations. Using know-how and creativity, we teach that anything is possible – as long as you’re willing to get your hands (and maybe your clothes) dirty!

Students with their completed camp stoves

Photos provided by George Rue, Outdoor Skills Teaching Fellow.