Friday, August 16, 2013

Hobo Stove and Walmart Grease Pot Test

Over the past few years I’ve read many discussions of the Walmart IMUSA grease pot for use as an inexpensive, lightweight cooking pot while camping. I was at Walmart earlier this week and decided to pick one up to try. For about $6, why not?

(For whatever reason, I can’t find the grease pot at, here is the same pot at Amazon.)

The wife and kids were out tonight so I stopped at the local Asian grocer and bought a few different kinds of noodles to try, including the pack of udon that I cooked tonight. Here’s the udon pack, grease pot, hobo stove, and fuel that I used.


Not shown is the strainer included with the great pot, since I didn’t use it tonight.

For fueling the hobo stove I used a firestarter that I’d made up a few weeks ago. It’s part of a cardboard egg carton stuffed with oak shavings, then saturated with melted Gulf canning wax (paraffin). Once the melted wax hardens, you get a waterproof firestarter that lights easily and will burn hot for several minutes. They are great for starting campfires, and I wanted to see how it would work in lieu of sticks in the hobo stove.

The stove is one I made a couple years ago from a 1 pound coffee can. It has several ~1/2” holes around the bottom to allow for a draft, several more around the top, and a window at the top for adding fuel in the form of sticks or split wood.

I put 1.5 cups of tap water into the grease pot and placed it on the stove, then lit the fuel. After a couple minutes it looked like this.


Remember, that’s one of these firestarters.

I didn’t hear any boiling so after about 3 minutes I removed the lid, and found that I had a rolling boil.


So I put the udon in and let it cook for about 3 minutes. The firestarter burned out about 2 to 3 minutes after I added the noodles. I figure that it burned for about 6 to 7 minutes.



I did end up transferring the udon to a bowl, because the grease pot is too tall to conveniently eat from.


For six bucks, the IMUSA grease pot carried by Walmart is a great deal if you want a light, cheap cooking pot for camping. It’s even  big enough to hold one of those small butane powered stoves. It’s made from thin aluminum, so don’t expect it to withstand much abuse, but if you keep that in mind it’s a great deal.

The IMUSA grease pot would also make a good basis for a car survival kit. It can hold some survival supplies, e.g., tea bags, bullion cubes, a cup, space blanket, matches, firestarters, Esbit tabs or Trioxane fuel bars.

I was pleased with the performance of the firestarter when used as cooking fuel. If the pot had more than 1.5 cups of water in it I would have needed more fuel, however.

One caveat about using this kind of firestarter as a fuel bar is that it leaves a lot of thick, greasy soot on your cooking pot. If you plan on using this, better carry a plastic bag to put your pot in so everything else in your pack doesn’t turn black.

Performance of the hobo stove was good. It could probably be improved with something to hold the fuel closer to the bottom of the pot, such as a metal grate or the bottom of a smaller, empty can inverted and placed inside.

This goes to show you that you don’t always need to spend a lot of money on gear if you exercise a bit of creativity.

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