Creating an Emergency Heater for Camping

While watching a show about a father and son camping, I realized that the characters never had a time when they could not get a fire going.  Through rain, sleet, high winds, and snow the fire started with not much effort or at least not real world effort.  What do I mean by real world?  Well, I have camped through a hurricane, snow, and even rain that was blowing sideways.  Through it all, my campfire never seemed to light up like the one on the show I was watching.  While a fire is very important, it is extremely important anytime you get cold and/or wet.  These two conditions can quickly end an enjoyable camping trip but what can you do if you cannot get your fire started?  Learn to be prepared by educating yourself on how to create an emergency heater.


No, you do not need a bunch of fancy equipment nor do you require a lot of supplies.  Everything you need should be at your campsite and/or in your backpack.  To begin the process, you will first need to gather a few items.  This includes a large metal can such as those that you need to carry out with you.  A roll of toilet paper and 70% isopropyl alcohol are the remaining supplies.

Next, place the toilet paper inside the can.  Once that is done, pour the isopropyl alcohol over the toilet paper and then light. The toilet paper acts as the wick while the isopropyl alcohol is the fuel.  Since the alcohol that is exposed to the air is the only thing burning, you do not have to worry about the bottom of the tin can becoming hot.

While this is a great little emergency heater, you will need a couple to really heat things up.  Also, if you plan on moving the heater to your tent be very careful.  This should only be done in a dire emergency and the heater itself should be put up on a table.  It should also be place in the center of the tent to keep the tent material itself from catching on fire. 

Part of being a responsible camper is learning skills that will help you survive in an emergency.  While I wish all camping trips were like the movie I was watching, the fact is that sometimes you end up wet and cold without a fire.  The simple but effective emergency heater described above, now gives you the basic skill to stay warm even when the fire will not light.

It's great if you are able to create an emergency heater when camping, but when it comes to installing or maintaining a heater at home, it's best to leave this to professionals. Check out for professional services in Manassas.