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How to Make an Emergency Car Heater

Updated on February 20, 2011

  When traveling, it’s important to be prepared.  When traveling in inclement weather, it’s even more important.  You should be sure to have blankets and extra food/snacks, but it can also be helpful to pack an emergency car heater.  In some areas or in a particularly bad storm, it could be hours before anyone can help you, so an emergency car heater can be a life saver (or at least a life sucks-a-bit-less-because-I’m-not-completely-frozen maker).  The best part is, you can give yourself piece of mind with just a few dollars worth of supplies.

You will need:

· Metal coffee can or other similarly sized can

· Toilet paper

· Rubbing alcohol

· Matches

· Aluminum foil


Optional Items


·         Flashlight

·         First aid kit

·         Snacks

·         Any other item you can fit that might be useful

·         Directions, especially if this is for someone else’s car (example:  I made a bunch of these as Christmas gifts—the recipients will need instructions so they know what to do with the odd assemblage in a coffee can)

 Put all items in the coffee can and store it in your car, somewhere you’ll be able to access it in case of an emergency.

Directions for Use

1. Remove everything from the can except the toilet paper.

2. Pour rubbing alcohol over the toilet paper. Allow it to soak for about 10 minutes.

3. Crack windows slightly for ventilation

4. Use a match to light the alcohol-soaked paper.

5. Set on a stable area so it won’t tip over. This should burn for up to eight hours.

6. To extinguish, use the foil to cover the coffee can. This will remove oxygen, and the fire will go out within a couple minutes.


Have you ever been stranded on the side of the road due to a car emergency?

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    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      Yep, I suppose so...

    • profile image

      Josh and Lindsey 7 years ago from Indiana

      It smells like burning rubbing alcohol--not the great, but not horrible, and it certainly beats freezing!

    • tmbridgeland profile image

      tmbridgeland 7 years ago from Small Town, Illinois

      This is clever. Does it smell? That toilet roll makes one giant wick! I gotta try this at home.