How do I make a stove out of a log?

This is a great trick for creating a working stove when you don’t have much equipment with you. The process is time consuming and slightly difficult, but if you don’t have a stove or a grill, or you want a cool camping party-trick, the log stove may be a good last resort.

All you need to create the stove is a saw, and axe, and a large (about 18-inch diameter) dead log.

To start, cut a 12 to 18-inch segment of the log. Cut it as flat as possible on both ends, as it will need to stand up straight, and be flat enough to support whatever pots or pans you will be using. Strip away the bark with a rock or an axe, leaving just the stump.

Logstove - 1.png

Next, cut the stump into 4 vertical quarters. Big logs can be difficult to cut in one swing, but there are some tricks you can use to keep the cut open in order to get a second shot at it, like wedging in small woodchips. Alternatively, you can use the saw to cut it in half, and then use the axe to cut the more manageable halves into quarters. The result should look like this:

Logstove - 2.png

If you’ve cut the bottom and top of the log flat, the pieces should be able to stand on their own. This is important, as they’ll need to stay up throughout the process. If you made a mistake, you can always surround the base of the log with rocks, which will help keep the pieces standing.

Keeping the pieces standing upright and facing each other, make a small amount of space between them. It should look the picture above. Next, take birch bark, small twigs and sticks, and anything flammable, and wedge them between the gap in the centre of the circle. Leave the four gaps on the side relatively clear, as they will be needed for airflow.

Logstove - 3.png

Next, light up the birch bark at the bottom, and make sure that the fire climbs up to the top. The birch bark and other kindling should ignite and create a small narrow fire at the centre of the four logs. As this fire heats up, it will ignite the inside portions of each of the logs, and should continue to burn at a steady pace for a very long time.

Since the top of this contraption is flat, pots and pans can be placed on it, using the fire and heat within as a stove!

A few things to be careful of:

  • If the log is too narrow, the pieces will not be able to stand on their own. A similar problem can occur if the pieces were cut incorrectly. If you are unsure, prop up the pieces with rocks.
  • If the log segment is too long, the pieces will also be unsteady. The length of the segment should be determined based on the diameter to keep it as stable as possible.
  • If the fire is off centre, it will burn through two of the segments instead of all four. Eventually it will collapse sideways as these deteriorate faster than the others.
  • Space needs to be made between the logs to allow airflow to keep the fire burning.
  • No matter how stable the logs appear, keep a close eye on them. Logs burn and the stove becomes less stable as time goes on.