The Ammocan Stove may be the heating unit you need for a medium-sized tent, ice fishing shack or back of a vehicle. (I was not paid to do this review, and as of this publication, Ammocan stove is not an advertiser on SurvivalCommonSense.)
by Leon Pantenburg
I live in Central Oregon, where, for about nine months of the year, cool or cold weather is expected. Subsequently, I’m always on the lookout for effective heating methods or sources.
The idea of a stove built out of a steel ammunition can intrigued me: Not only is the Ammocan Stove made in Virginia, but it also demonstrates effective recycling. And, the concept of a small, portable stove that can heat small spaces is appealing. I contacted Ammocan Stove, about doing a review and received the Blue Ridge model in the mail about a week later.
First impressions were good: the workmanship is excellent.
Ammocan stoves are built on several sizes of American military ammunition containers. The Blue Ridge I tested is built on a .50 caliber size. It fully opens for easy cleaning with enough room inside it to store your fire kit and gear when it is not in use.
The stove will burn any dry combustible fuel, the manufacturer claims, including coal but works best with hardwood. This stove is large enough to heat a small to mid-size tent, canvas tarp shelter or wall tent and has a built-in cook surface. It is painted with high temperature stove paint.
Any gear testing I do is under field conditions, and generally takes several sessions. I set up the Blue Ridge in my backyard, and went dumpster diving at a nearby construction site to get some wood. The conglomeration of scraps collected would be similar to the wood debris that might be available after a tornado struck.
Using my go-to cotton balls and petroleum jelly firestarter, the stove fired up just fine until I shut the door. Even with the front door grate wide open, the stove wouldn’t stay lighted. Next, I tried some dry, split pine, which also didn’t work. Using pitchwood, cotton balls and petroleum jelly, and waxed firestarter, and with the addition of a piece of stovepipe didn’t matter. After six attempts, I couldn’t get the stove to stay lighted.
Some gear doesn’t work for me. I contacted Tim at Ammocan Stove, pointed out the problems and said I could not recommend his product.
And then I got something unusual: Responsive customer service. Tim asked some polite, reasonable questions about how I had been using the stove and asked me to mail it back.
About a week later, I got an email from Tim: My stove was defective. The spark arrester should have had about two-thirds more holes in it. Without that ventilation, it was like trying to light a stove with the damper or grate almost completely closed. Tim was apologetic, and mentioned that new quality controls would now be in place.
The stove was back about a week later. I set it up in my back yard, used some of the dumpster wood with cotton balls and petroleum jelly and fired it up. This time, the stove lighted easily, without any problems whatsoever. I let the paint cure for about an hour or so, as the directions suggest, feeding the fire with my dumpster wood. I played around with the draft on the front door, and it worked effectively to regulate the heat.
The next day, when the stove was completely cool, I started a fire using damp sticks and twigs picked up off the ground. The stove lighted easily, using waxed firestarter as an ignition source. I didn’t have any hardwood for fuel as the manufacturer recommends, so I used some small pieces of dry pine.The stove functioned well on pine cones, and other pine forest debris.
The stove functioned and produced heat well with the poor quality fuel, and burned cleanly down to fine ash.
Next, I deliberately overloaded the stove with wood to see how it would react to getting too hot. The roaring fire heated the metal near the stove pipe to red hot (Which should NEVER be done under normal operating conditions!)
There were no fire leaks, and very little smoke seepage during this abuse, and I was able to control the inferno by shutting down the front vent. When the stove cooled down, I checked it out thoroughly. The unit showed no damage or metal warping.
Observations: The Ammocan stove passed my field tests with flying colors. It should heat a properly-vented small to medium-sized tent or tarp shelter with no problems, and it appears to effectively use most biomass materials. (As with any open flame stove, never use this product in a sealed environment or any place that is not properly ventilated.) I haven’t had a chance to try coal, but I’m guessing that fuel would last a long time in the little stove.
Customer service is outstanding. When you contact Ammocan Stoves, chances are you will talk to someone who builds the product. Courteous tech support, attention to detail and a useful product make this company an up-and-comer. Support American small business!
The Ammocan stove can be a viable and valuable addition to your emergency preparedness plans.