How to Build a Small TLUD Burner and Make Tea Using Bamboo As Fuel

A TLUD stove use pyrolysis to burn bio-mass (commonly wood) in a super efficient manner. Among "camp stoves" or "hobo stove" designs, the TLUD version is probably the cleanest burning. Bamboo turns out to be a very hot, efficient and well sustainable fuel. This model uses two cans from the recycling bin and very simple tools which you might be able to build almost anywhere.This project has sharp edges and fire. There is potential for injury, so you should not try this at home with out adult supervision.


  1. 1
    Prepare a typical soup can, one slightly larger can, medium size nail, small nail, can opener and a hammer.
    • This larger can had a pull top so it was flattened to allow good airflow.
  2. 2
    Aim for about a 14 inch (0.6 cm) or 5mm gap between the cans.
  3. 3
    Use the small finishing nail to poke one row of holes all around the base of the smaller, inner can.
  4. 4
    Use the medium size nail to make holes in the ash grate (smaller can top). If you are careful, you can also poke out the concentrator hole at the same time, in the larger can.
  5. 5
    Punch out the concentrator hole in the bottom of the larger can. It is approximately 1/3 of the diameter of the actual can.
  6. 6
    Flatten out the burs on the concentrator hole. (Be careful of sharp edges here!) On the left you can see the ash grate with holes made as we prepared the concentrator.
  7. 7
    Use the metal from the concentrator punch out, as a space on under the ash grate. This will allow lots of air flow from the small holes in the inner can.
  8. 8
    Insert the larger nail and space up through the center of the ash grate.and lower the assembly into the smaller can. It will be a little floppy at first, but when the fuel is put inside, it should be relatively level. The nail can be used later to remove the assembly.
  9. 9
    There should be a 14 inch (0.6 cm) or 5mm gap between the inner can and the concentrator hole. We used the can opener to shorten the inner can by cutting off the rim. It can be a little tricky the first time since the can wiggles around. Lying the can on the side helps it remain steady so the can opener makes a clean cut. You could also elevate the outer can a little bit later on, but that might be less reliable. One other way to do this is to leave the cans the same height and poke larger holes all the way around the top of the inner can using your large nail.
  10. 10
    The concentrator hole is on the other side, this image just shows that there is a now about a 14 inch (0.6 cm) or 5mm gap in the heights.
  11. 11
    We used a seasoned bamboo stick to make fuel. It was weathered at least a year or more and split very well just by stomping on it. The piece in the image was about 3 feet (0.9 m) long and filled the small can.
  12. 12
    This common brick happened to make a nice size fuel shaft when we split the bamboo into short pieces. This produces some splinters, so watch your fingers.
  13. 13
    The can is full of wood sticks. And we packed in some paper napkins and drizzled a small amount of vegetable oil on the tips of the sticks and the napkins for a hot start. The napkins work as a little wick at first and heat up the cans and wood very well. Poke those napkins in between the wood sticks very gently and carefully. Use a fork or dull knife to avoid splinters.
  14. 14
    Place the inner can on two bricks with a nice gap between them to allow lots of air flow. Then light all the paper napkins and slide the outer can on top. The fire should come out the concentrator hole very clean, with low smoke.
  15. 15
    The working flame is about as the same height as the cans in this experiment.
  16. 16
    Build a stove around the burner using bricks stood on end. The fire should hit the middle of the pot and touch it, but should not spread out beyond the sides. The ring of small bricks around the pot concentrates the heat on the sides of the pot very well. At the end of burning, all the bricks were quite warm too.
  17. 17
    On another try, I added a small chimney made from an aluminium beverage can on top of the burner. I think the draft was slightly improved and heat directed even better at the pot. Still the bricks were all quite warm too.
  18. 18
    Tea Time! The water boiled rapidly after about ten minutes and boiled fiercely for at least ten minutes too. I made two cups of tea.
  19. 19
    All in all, this small can of bamboo burned around 30 minutes. I was quite surprised by that power output (hot enough to boil water outside on a freezing cold day.) The overall clean burn was also impressive. Starting produced a little smoke though. I think it was mostly due to the burning labels on the cans and the plastic linings in the food cans. It produced a small amount of charcoal. This can also be used for heat.
  20. 20
    I put a long section of drain pipe on the small can to produce a high draft. This forced air in through the small holes at the bottom and the charcoal burned with intense heat.


  • Don't pack the bamboo sticks in very tightly. Leaving sufficient space for air to flow is important.
  • Another test might be that if you turn the fuel can upside down, the bamboo still slides out as a full set.
  • The bamboo will fit tightly, since it is smooth on the sides. If the fire goes out or only the center of the fuel is burning, you can put a little less fuel in the can. You should be able to slide a typical dinner knife all the way down between the fuel and the can at any spot on the can.


  • Do not touch the can when it is burning.
  • Don't try this at home.
  • This project has sharp metal edges that can easily cut your skin. Wear thick gloves if are unsure.
  • This project makes fire. There is danger of burns.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby at all times.

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Categories: Tea | Cookware Hacks