How to Make an Oven out of a #10 Can

The only hard part about making an oven out of a #10 can is finding a can actually still made out of metal. Once upon a time you could walk into any grocery store and buy a metal can of coffee, but plastic is king now and those days are gone.

Boy Scouts have been making tin can cookers to use a portable outdoor stoves for decades. If a 10-year-old boy can make an oven out of a #10 can, so can you. This project requires the use of just a few simple tools and only about a half an hour of your time.

One of the best attributes of tin can cookers, or hobo stoves, is the small and varied type of fuel they need to operate. You can use just small chips of wood, fairly dried brush and twigs, or even cardboard that has been coated in wax.

How To Make An Oven Out Of A #10 Can


There are several different ways to turn a #10 can into a survival oven. Before you begin the project, you must decide if you want the can to have a bottom or a top.

If the stove is made with a bottom you will be able to fill it with your chosen fuel before placing it in a location to cook. If you make a stove that does not have a bottom, which is fine even though it poses a bit more if a fire concern, fuel cannot be loaded until the #10 can oven is place in the cooking spot. Most can ovens that do not have a bottom are placed upon a grate oven an open flame or over a smaller tin can – like a tuna can, to hold the non-liquid fuel.

If you choose to make a stove with a top still on the can, a skillet or pot can be placed directly on top of the can – allowing it to be used like a grill. If the #10 can oven does not have a top, the pot or small skillet will heat more quickly but not be quite as stable during the cooking process.

can oven tools


• #10 Can – A metal 3-pound coffee can works perfectly..if you can find one. A 1-gallon bulk or commercial metal food can works well also.
• Tin Snips
• Metal Punch or a hammer and nail
• Can Opener
• Permanent Marker
• Can Opener


1. Use the can opener to remove ONE of the lids on the #10 can to make a bottom for the stove.

2. Measure and mark a space about 3 inches by 3 inches on the side wall just above the bottom of the #10 can. You are making a door to use as a damper – cut only three sides of measured area so the door or flap can be adjusted to control the heat inside the tin can stove.

3. Near the top of can, use the metal punch or the nail and a hammer to make holes for air ventilation. Typically, it is recommended to make holes all the way around the top rim of the can, spacing each hole about two finger’s width apart. If you have chosen to make tin can oven without a top, the can may bend somewhat when pounding in the nail – brace the can on or around something solid to avoid denting or damaging the metal can anymore than absolutely necessary.

4. Remove any labels on the can to avoid scorching and a foul smell when the oven is used. In a survival situation you want to eliminate as much smoke and odor during the cooking process as possible.

5. If you have chosen to make a stove without a top, placing a slightly smaller can inside the opening to create greater stability during cooking, is highly recommended. A smaller tin can placed inside the larger one will need support to not fall all the way through the bottom.

Simply make four more holes in the #10 metal can and use stiff wire or coat hanger wire to serve as supportive rods to hold the smaller can (cooking surface) in place. This same process can be used if you saved the lid and shaved it down so it can be placed slightly inside the top of the can and used as a cooking surface, as well.

How To Use A #10 Can Oven

1. Build a fire in the oven if it has a bottom or under the stove in a fire ring if it does not have a bottom

2. The tinder you will need to generate enough heat to cook upon or boil water must be fairly dry and fit entirely inside the can to avoid starting far more of a fire than you intended. Leaves, twigs, lint, or chopped up pieces of firewood like you would use in a smoker, work great.

3. Once you have a fire going inside of the tin can cooker, continue to feed the flames by adding more tinder – the smoke will roll out the ventilation holes you poked into the can.

The heat emitted from the #10 can oven will be both intense and uneven. Cast iron or camping cookware is highly recommended for use to avoid damaging cookware designed for a conventional oven.

Practice using the survival emergency oven long before you need it to better gauge fuel usage and cooking time. Start with something simple like making a hot dog or boiling water before advancing onto making stew or large cuts of meat on the #10 can oven.

11 thoughts on “How to Make an Oven out of a #10 Can”

  1. Yes, at least the metal #10 cans are recyclable as well as their lids, but the cans made of plastic or coiled metallized cardboard are not recyclable. TIM HORTONS coffee cans are not metal anymore.

  2. You can still buy #10 cans at some home supply stores like Lowes, but I’m not sure of their build quality – they may not take the same abuse as the older materials. You are correct – plastic and even paper cans for oatmeal and raisons rules now. Pity as I used to collect the metal coffee cans from the office and take them home.

    Maybe the nut storage cans might do ?

    Thank you for the article – this is something I can do this weekend.

    • Anonymous, If you make one this weekend, please share some pics and videos of your project on our social media pages. Yep, I just hate plastic, I recycle it out of a sense of earth stewardship, but I still hate it. I can vaguely remember returning glass pop bottles to the store when I was forced to go on the weekly grocery shopping trip as a little girl. I still get so excited when I come across those little glass bottles of Coke a few times a year, usually at Christmas. An ice cold Coke just tastes way better out of glass than it does from a plastic bottle or a can.

      • Tara,
        If you have a hispanic market near-by, check in there, Coke and Pepsi made in Mexico are still bottled using real sugar not hfcs. We call them “MexiCola” to differentiate between the better tasking Mexican bottled versions. They are usually a dollar each. A lot of hispanic markets import familiar products from the old country.

    • I cook things like spaghetti sauce and chili in very large quantities and frequently use #10 cans of diced tomatoes from COSTCO. They are great for many uses. Also, I recycle tuna cans by filling with paraffin and one piece of paper, for easier and quicker lighting. They burn for at least four hours and can provide heat for cooking or for warming small spaces in emergencies.

  3. Hi Tara,
    My name is Linda W and I’m a member of the MeWe site Prepared Seniors & Friends run by Carol Bama. We were chatting and she suggested I get in touch with your group. She said to tell you Livinthedream sent me. I would be interested to know if you know of any local (Lancaster, Ohio or surrounding area) prepper groups that I could contact to meet like minded people who are working toward the same things.
    Thank you,

    • Linda, it is very nice to virtually meet you! I do not know anyone in Lancaster, although by country standards it is close by. I may know some in the Logan area, which is very close to Lancaster. I will do some checking. Feel free to contact me via email – [email protected]

  4. Stoves made out of #10 cans are neat. If you can carry it or are in a static location.

    Learning how to cook our C-rations was literally one of the first things we were taught in Infantry Training Regiment in the Marines. We learned how to make a small stove out of the can the John Wayne crackers came in using our John Wayne can openers (P-38s). We primarily just used solid fuel (trioxane – nasty fumes), but in Vietnam, a small amount of C-4 explosive was frequently used instead (hotter flame). For those that don’t know, C-4 can be safely burned as it requires not only heat, but high pressure to explode (a blasting cap). I’ll bet its still in heavy use in the sandbox to cook coffee since the MREs now have water activated heaters to warm the main meal and no cans at all to make into stoves.

    I started carrying a German Esbit stove after we switched to MREs (pre-meal heaters) to cook my main meal and coffee. Small and light weight, it could use C-4, USGI trioxane, or German hexamine solid fuels. A GI canteen cup was required so water could be heated to cook the MRE (and the coffee, of course).

    • Zulu 3-6,

      Thank you again for your service. Intriguing information about using C-4 as fuel. I am intrigued, John Wayne crackers?

      • Tara,

        Thanks for your thanks. I volunteered, so I subjected myself to all the resulting fun and games. 🙂

        In the Marines, we nicknamed a lot of stuff John Wayne **whatever**. After all, John Wayne was always the tough guy. I think it mostly dated from his tough Marine sergeant role (Sgt Stryker) in The Sands of Iwo Jima. One of the few movies John Wayne was killed in. Primarily, it meant the P-38 can opener. If someone said, “Hey, toss me your John Wayne.” He meant the can opener.


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