Winter Survival TP Heater

You're stranded in your car or truck in the middle of winter and you have no winter survival kit in your car. No relief in sight. This TP heater may save your life. This requires a empty coffee can with the plastic lid, at least two 16 ounce bottles of rubbing alcohol and one roll of unscented toilet paper. It's easy to make:


1. Knead the toilet paper roll in your hands to loosen the inner cardboard core. Remove the core,compress the roll and place inside the coffee can. I used a small roll of TP and put it in a 13 ounce metal coffee can.

2. Pour one bottle of rubbing alcohol into the can, let it soak in and -carefully-light the top of the paper. It should burn with a clean flame.

3. Set the can in an area free of flammable materials. The heater will produce deadly CO2 so crack the windows on both sides to provide ventilation. Fuel is running low when the edges of the toilet paper starts to brown. Blow out the flame. Add another bottle and relight. Each bottle will provide flame with intermittent use for 18 to 24 hours. Now get your winter survival kit stashed in the trunk of your car along with the TP heater.


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By Teri (Guest Post)
February 18, 20050 found this helpful

Another way and much simpler is to just carry a candle in a metal coffee can.

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By sandy (Guest Post)
February 18, 20050 found this helpful

i would hope that if someone had all those products in their car they would also have an emergency kit.

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By (Guest Post)
April 28, 20050 found this helpful

I have never tried this but I dont think a candle gives off as much heat as a the toilet paper alcohol combo. Just responding to the comment by another user.

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By Kathy (Guest Post)
August 16, 20050 found this helpful

I have used this method for years, but not as emergency in winter. Wonderful idea, but I live in Alabama now, lol. Here are some more hints about it: Get a large cinder block (two sided) and use cans that can fit into the cinderblock. This way the cans cannot be accidently tipped or kicked over. This is a great method for camping if you do not want to bother with a campfire, but the kids want to roast marshmallows, lol, and you will be very surprised at the light and heat this thing throws off. I have used it for cooking, reading, and even warming up a bit on cooler nights. It ends up being like one of those burners they use for heating for fondue pots, etc or buffet lines. Also, using the brick method, you can use a small pot or frying pan and cook over it, particularly if you use the old castiron type square grids from the older gas stoves.


These are wonderful! I was told about it from an individual that did a lot of crosscountry hitchhiking in the 60/70 time period, who said that it was very light-weight for if you needed to camp out and needed light/heat and a cooking source. He of course did not haul the cinderblock around, but came up with that later. I have never really had any trouble with fumes, though, not that it couldn't happen. Also, you can pinch out the flame, and seal the can, then just relight it when you are ready, if it will be soon, or squeeze out the TP and pour the alcohol back into the bottle. It is much cheaper than the little heater things.

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By don greenwalt (Guest Post)
August 16, 20060 found this helpful

What everyone should have is a cell phone, even if you dont have a contract, you can still use the phone for 911 calls, just remember to keep it charged.

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By some guy (Guest Post)
December 15, 20070 found this helpful

i just tried this, it gives off a lot more heat than a candle, but seems like it would consume a lot of alcohol pretty quick. It worked good for a little while though.

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By Mike Harriman (Guest Post)
January 6, 20080 found this helpful

I like to use 1 pound coffee cans and denatured alcohol to make the heaters, TP fits in the 1 pound coffee cans really well. Denatured alcohol is used on small boats for a fuel for the stoves because it burns so clean.

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By Jonathan Barnhart (Guest Post)
January 18, 20080 found this helpful

When I first started Deer hunting, when I was 10 or 12, we used to use these. However, we did a few thing differently to get as much yield out of them as we could. First we went with the larger coffee cans. Mainly because we were trying to fit as many rolls of toilet paper in as we could. I've seen as many as three rolls crushed flat and packed in side by side together. But, usually it was only two. Then we would pour as many bottles of rubbing alcohol into them as we could soak in before it began to "puddle" up. Then usually we tried to come up with some sort of string rig to carry it around with and popped the lid on. But, now that I've looked at some alcohol burning stove made out of soda cans, I think that maybe we would have been better served to use denatured alcohol.


I also think that maybe one of the old style steel canisters, that people used to keep for flour and sugar and such, might be a better vessel. Something like that could have a permanant carry handle added with pop rivets or something. Either that or maybe a clean steel paint can, since it would already have a handle on it. Either one would be able to snuff out and seal off the heater with their lids. Just some thoughts I had right now while I was rigging up a heater to take with me tomorrow for doe only third deer season. Facing temp. in the teens tomorrow morning.

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By Rosalita (Guest Post)
December 5, 20080 found this helpful

A candle does work but you do not get enough heat to survive being stranded in your car during a blizzard in South Dakota with wind chill factors of -30 to -40.

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By Cate (Guest Post)
February 2, 20090 found this helpful

FYI, CO2 isn't particularly deadly; it's just carbon dioxide. CO is carbon monoxide, and it is deadly.

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August 18, 20100 found this helpful

This may be a disaster waiting to happen! I'm sure it is better than freezing to death, but alcohol burns with a flame that is almost invisible. If you spill the alcohol, or pour additional alcohol into the heater thinking it is out, you may have a major conflagration on your hands!


You would then either be on fire, or your car would be, and then be forced into the cold. I think alcohol also gives off water vapor when burned. I could be wrong. What ever you do, be super careful! A can with a couple of candles may be better.

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March 6, 20140 found this helpful

For those who are suggesting a candle in a coffee can... please remember that this is a tip for winter SURVIVAL when stranded. A candle will not even come close to the life-sustaining heat this sort of toilet paper heater can provide. I do not live in an area with extremely cold weather, but if I did I would have one of these ready to go in my vehicle.


My father used these when I was a child to heat an old truck, and they are very warm and very safe when used properly.

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