How to Build a Pot Support
You've already created a soda can stove, but now you need a pot support. There are as many pot support designs as there are people to design them so use what you prefer. With that said, here's the one I use for my soda can stoves.
- hardware cloth (a.k.a. rat wire, chicken wire, etc.)
- flexible wire (I used twisty ties with a metal wire through the center)
- wire cutters (or scissors, nail clippers, or anything that can cut the hardware cloth)
- the pot the pot support will be used with
- ruler (optional)
Step 1: Cut a strip of hardware cloth about 3 inches wide
The pot support should rise about an inch taller than the stove. If you used the standard stove size suggested on this site (35mm or about 1.5 inches), your pot support should be about 2.5 inches tall when it is completed. I added an extra half an inch for reasons you'll see soon enough. If your stove is particularly tall or short, however, just add about 1.5 inches to its height and cut a strip that wide.
Most of you will likely want to use wire cutters to cut the strip. I don't have wire cutters, however, and didn't want to ruin a pair of scissors. I did not mind, however, ruining a nail clipper and cut my strip with those. =)
This pot support is designed to fit inside of your pot, so you'll want to make sure the width of your strip is no wider than the height of your pot. Unless you have an unusually shallow pot that looks more like a frying pan, this shouldn't be a problem, but if you do have such a pot, you'll want to find some other pot support design for your soda can stove. (Or just use rocks found around your campsite!)
Step 2: Shorten your strip to the circumference of your pot support, plus a few inches
The diameter of your pot support depends entirely on the size of your pot. It needs to be about an inch smaller than the diameter of your pot. My pot, which I took a photo of to show you, has a small bump around the edges that can help hold the pot on the pot support. If your pot has such a bump, make your pot support just large enough to fit inside those bumps.
If you want to be very precise, the circumference of your pot support is the pot support's diameter times pi (about 3.14). My pot needs a stand with a diameter of 3.5 inches, which means a circumference of 3.5 * 3.14 = 11 inches. Add a few inches to account for the overlap, and I needed a strip of hardware cloth about 14 inches long.
Step 3: Loop the strip and connect ends
Loop your strip of hardware cloth in a circle with the correct diameter. Rather than measuring this stuff, I just compare it directly to my pot and hold the strip in place. The hardware cloth strip should overlap by a few inches. Run a wire through the overlap and twist the wire to hold the strip in place. I used four twisty ties, one near each corner of the overlapping hardware cloth, then ran the extra length through the holes.
I used twisty ties that I picked up in the produce section of a local Safeway. This works especially well for this tutorial since it makes them easy to see in my photos, but really, you just need a wire that won't melt. These twisty ties do burn, but the metal wire that runs through the center does not.
Step 4: Fold over rim (optional)
This is the reason I added an extra half-inch to the height of the pad support in step 1. I like folding over the rim where the pot rests on the pot support. You don't have to do this, and I've made and used pot stoves that don't, but I like to fold over the rim of the top of the pot stove. It keeps the sharp points facing inward, scratches the pot less, and just makes things seem sturdier.
If you choose not to do this step, make sure not to add that extra half-inch to the width in step 1.
Step 5: Burn the twisty ties (if necessary)
If your wire has an outer covering that can burn, you can burn them now. Light your stove and burn away. You might find it easier to burn them before attaching them to your pot support, or you can just let them burn the first time you actually use your stove with the pot support. If you have a wire that didn't have a sheath around it, this is not something you have to worry about.
I'll also point out, you can do this step at any time, and you might find it easier if you burn off the outer covering before anything else. The main reason I did this step last is because the green twisty ties show up well in my photos. If I burned those off first, it's a lot harder to see what I've done since the metal wires look exactly the same as the hardware cloth.
Alterantive Step 3: Loop the strip and connect ends
I prefer using twisty ties for pot supports, but one time I didn't have them around while making a pot support. So instead, I used the high-temperature tape left over from my stove to tape the overlapping areas in place. It worked well enough, and I carried this pot support during my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. The tape even acts as a wind block, albeit not a very good one but still better than nothing if it's gusty outside.
If you do use this method for your pot support, you'll have trouble folding the rim over in step 4. You could choose to ignore this step completely (as I did with my pot support shown in this image), or you can fold the rim over before securing it in place with the high-temperature tape.