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1/4 Ounce Adjustable Simmer Attachment For Soda Can Stove
I had been experimenting with various designs for a functional and adjustable simmer attachment for the soda can stove for quite a while before I came up with this one.
Actually, the design came about from the suggestions of several friends. Sue Buak ("Bookworm") mentioned using muffin tins for flame snuffers for the soda can stove. A person on the ATL list (I don't remember who) mentioned using aluminum foil to adjust the flame. I came up with the idea of cutting the muffin tin into its present configuration, and Brawny suggested using two of them so the simmer attachment would be adjustable. I didn't think that the cups would be durable enough to stand up to the flame, but in my tests, they weren't damaged at all by either the heat or the flame.
Not that it has any application for backcountry cooking, however, using 3 ounces of alcohol as fuel I kept a soda can stove on continuous low simmer for just over 2 1/2 hours (2 hours, 34 minutes to be exact) using this item.
All that is needed to make the simmer attachment are 2 of the three inch diameter muffin tins (see photos below), a knife and scissors. The muffin tins I used are very light (the word "flimsy" comes to mind), feel like thick aluminum foil and could easily be crushed in your hand. They are about 1 1/2 inches deep. The brand name I used is "Handi-Foil". They are advertised as 4 oz. cups and made by the Handi-Foil Corporation of Wheeling, IL 60090. I found them at a local Winn-Dixie supermarket on the baking goods aisle. There are 8 cups to the package. Thicker, heavier or larger tins could probably be used, but these are very light and seem to work well.
Use the knife to make an incision into the bottom (which, for our purposes, is the top) of the muffin tins, then cut a "half-moon" shape into each with the scissors (see photo below). Also, remove about 1/8 inch from the sidewall of the tin that is directly below the half-moon cut-out. The completed simmer attachment weighs just under 1/4 ounce (about 3 grams on our scales). One attachment can be made that can be configured as shown in both of the above photos.
To use the simmer attachment, fire the stove as usual and wait until it reaches maximum output (the flame fully burning through the small burner holes). Place one of the cups directly over the stove. Decide how much simmer you want, and then place the second cup over the first one. You can rotate the muffin tin that is on top (to adjust the flame) with tweezers, a pot lifter or while wearing gloves. A bandana may also be used, but be extremely careful when any flammable object is in close proximity to the flame.
Brawny and I have developed slightly different methods of protecting our simmer attachments in our packs.
I carry a tuna can as a flame snuffer. I put the soda can stove into the simmer attachment, then put the soda can stove and simmer attachment into the tuna can. I then put the entire ensemble in a sandwich size zip-loc bag and secure it with a very long twist-tie. This little package fits snugly inside my one-ounce coffee can pot support. Everything (including my wind screen and aluminum pot lifter) will still fit inside my Wal-Mart Grease Pot with room left over for a Bic-lighter and hex tablets.
She doesn't carry an empty tuna can for a flame snuffer, but uses a (uncut) muffin tin instead. She places the 3 muffin tins together (flame snuffer + simmer attachment) and puts them inside her homemade cup she made from a soda bottle (see the "Alternative Gear" page at TrailQuest). The cup (with muffin tins inside) fits inside her pot support, which in turn fits inside her pot.
Our "Baking With The Soda Can Stove" page contains photos, recipes and instructions for trail meals we have prepared using the simmer attachment (the pizza rivals anything I've ever had at Pizza Hut).
David "Rainmaker" Mauldin