DIY Buddy Burner

This is a tried and true project that provides you the means to easily cook food during a bug out or at home during a power outage.

You’ll need melted wax, corrugated cardboard, and an empty and clean tuna can.

First, cut the cardboard into strips as wide as the tuna can is tall. You want to cut the cardboard across the corrugation, so that when you look at the long side of the strips you’ll see the “holes” from the corrugation. Take the strips and wrap them around the inside of the can, rolling them around and around to fill the can completely. When you’re done, if you look down into the can you should be able to see all those corrugated “holes.”

Melt your wax in either a double boiler or just place a clean soup can in a pot of water, melting the wax inside the can. Pour the melted wax into the tuna can, filling all the spaces in the cardboard. You can also use a small piece of wax string to put into the wax as a wick, but this isn’t truly necessary.

When the wax is cool, simply light the cardboard or wick. These burners work great with the Hobo Stove I described in an earlier post. You can adjust the heat given off by the burner by placing a piece of folded aluminum foil over part of the can. When you’re done cooking, just smother the flame by covering the top of the can with foil completely or using some other heat resistant material.

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Jim Cobb

Jim Cobb has been a student of survivalism and emergency preparedness for almost thirty years. As a young child, he drove his parents nuts with stockpiling supplies in the basement every time he heard there was a tornado watch in his area. Of course, being a child, those supplies consisted of his teddy bear, a few blankets and pillows, and random canned goods he grabbed from the kitchen cabinets. Later, he was the first (and likely only) child in his fifth grade class to have bought his very own copy of Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Today, he is a freelance writer whose work has been published in national magazines such as Boy’s Life and Complete Survivalist Magazine. He is a voracious reader with a keen interest in all stories with post-apocalyptic settings. He maintains the Library at the End of the World blog and is also the Content Director for He currently resides in a fortified bunker in the upper Midwest, accompanied by his lovely wife and their three adolescent Weapons of Mass Destruction. Jim's first book, Prepper's Home Defense, was published late 2012 and his second book, tentatively titled The Prepper's Complete Guide to Disaster Readiness, will be out in mid-2013, both coming from Ulysses Press.

2 thoughts on “DIY Buddy Burner”

  1. I wanted to let you know that I made a successful buddy burner last night. I was very impressed. We lit the burner and watched the flames slowly encompass the entire cardboard. The flames get very high and when we put it out, I noticed the cardboard didn’t actually burn, just the wax. I intend to keep that one and I’ll add some more wax to it and then I’m going to make three more (just in case I ever need them).

    One tip I would like to share: Before placing strips of cardboard inside the tuna can, roll the cardboard strip up in your fingers as you would a bed roll. This way you can place the cardboard roll in the center of the can and it will unravel to the form of the can. This can be repeated with each strip.

    1. Great job! And an excellent tip on construction, thanks for sharing that with us. Did you have any trouble putting out the flame? Also, did you try to adjust the amount of flame by partially covering the burner?

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