Keep Kids Entertained with a Hobo Stove

Need a fun and inexpensive project for the kids? How about letting the kids sleep in a backyard blanket tent and showing them how to cook their own dinner on a hobo stove? Make the stove first as a craft project. It’ll keep them busy all afternoon!

Today’s post about hobo stoves is written by Diana’s long-time friend Joan Husby (www.RainsongPress.com). Back in the 1950s when Joan was a counselor at the Camp Fire Girls’ Camp Killoqua, she led the girls in this fun project. Recently, she also taught her granddaughter Annie how to make a hobo stove. Now you can teach your kids to make one too using materials that, for the most part, would just go into the trash or recycle bin.

HOW TO MAKE A HOBO STOVE

Materials needed:

  • newspaper or newsprint
  • string
  • paraffin or old candle stubs
  • 1 or more tuna cans
  • 1 soup can for melting wax
  • A saucepan of hot water
  • 3-lb. empty coffee can
  • punch-type can opener

The top of the coffee can will become so hot that you can heat a pan of soup, toast a sandwich, or even fry a hamburger on it.

Annie made Toad-in-the-Hole on her new hobo stove. Photos and step-by-step instructions for this fun recipe appear below these next photos showing how to construct the hobo stove.

SAFETY ALERT! Be very careful when handling the hot wax. Also be sure not to touch the lighted tuna-can burner again until the fire has gone out and the can has cooled.

© 2009, The Savage Sisters

1. Fold a newspaper page in half, then fold it in half again, creasing well, and repeat until you have a strip narrow enough to fit just below the rim of the tuna can when it’s rolled up and placed on edge inside the can. Make several of these strips.

1. Fold a newspaper page in half, then fold it in half again, creasing well, and repeat until you have a strip narrow enough to fit just below the rim of the tuna can when it’s rolled up and placed on edge inside the can. Make several of these strips.

2. Lay a 4-inch piece of string across the end of the strip, letting a half an inch or more stick out from either side. Roll the strip tightly around the string. Add more strips until your coil of paper is the right size to fit inside the tuna can. Press the coil down inside, making the surface as even as possible. Be sure the string wick projects from the center. The tighter the coil, the longer it will burn.

2. Lay a 4-inch piece of string across the end of the strip, letting a half an inch or more stick out from either side. Roll the strip tightly around the string. Add more strips until your coil of paper is the right size to fit inside the tuna can. Press the coil down inside, making the surface as even as possible. Be sure the string wick projects from the center. The tighter the coil, the longer it will burn.

3. With pliers, crease the rim of the soup can to make a pouring spout. Heat an inch or two of water in a pan on a stove burner or other heat source. (An adult should supervise this part.) Put a piece of paraffin or candle stubs (two or three ounces is plenty) in the can, and set the can in the hot water. When the wax melts completely, turn off the heat.

3. With pliers, crease the rim of the soup can to make a pouring spout. Heat an inch or two of water in a pan on a stove burner or other heat source. (An adult should supervise this part.) Put a piece of paraffin or candle stubs (two or three ounces is plenty) in the can, and set the can in the hot water. When the wax melts completely, turn off the heat.

4. Using a potholder to prevent burns, slowly pour the wax over the coiled paper, and let it soak in well. Allow it to cool. Take care not to splash the hot wax on yourself or on the stove. If you make several tuna-can burners (also known as buddy burners) at once, you won’t run out of heat before the food you’re cooking on the hobo stove is done.

4. Using a potholder to prevent burns, slowly pour the wax over the coiled paper, and let it soak in well. Allow it to cool. Take care not to splash the hot wax on yourself or on the stove. If you make several tuna-can burners (also known as buddy burners) at once, you won’t run out of heat before the food you’re cooking on the hobo stove is done.

5. Turn the 3-pound coffee can upside down. Use the can opener to punch triangular holes at intervals below the bottom of the can, which has of course now become the top of the can. The holes at the stove’s top will allow oxygen to feed the lighted burner below. The holes don't show up well on the dark coffee can, so we're using a juice can here to illustrate.

5. Turn the coffee can upside down. Use the can opener to punch triangular holes at intervals below the bottom of the can, which has of course now become the top of the can. The holes at the stove’s top will allow oxygen to feed the lighted burner below. (The holes on the dark coffee can didn’t show up well in the pictures, so we’re using a juice can here to illustrate.)

6. When you’re ready to cook, light the wick and set the coffee can over the wax-filled tuna can.

6. When you’re ready to cook, light the wick and set the coffee can over the wax-filled tuna can.

1) Butter a piece of bread on both sides.  2) Cut a circle from the center of the bread slice, using a cookie cutter or the top of another can.  3) Place the buttered bread on the hot hobo stovetop, break an egg into the hole, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

TOAD-IN-THE-HOLE: 1) Butter a piece of bread on both sides. 2) Cut a circle from the center of the bread slice, using a cookie cutter or the top of another can. 3) Place the buttered bread on the hot hobo stovetop, break an egg into the hole, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

4)  When it’s toasted on one side, flip the whole thing over with a pancake turner, and let it toast on the other side.

4) When it’s toasted on one side, flip the whole thing over with a pancake turner, and let it toast on the other side.

5) Slide the toad-in-the-hole onto a plate. While you eat it, you can also toast the cutout piece, as Annie is doing here.

5) Slide the toad-in-the-hole onto a plate. While you eat it, you can also toast the cutout piece, as Annie is doing here.

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