Open-source blueprints are inspiring activists to distribute tent-safe heaters that can be built for as little as $7.
By Ella Fassler, January 27, 2022
As temperatures fall sharply and the number of unhoused people swells throughout the United States, anarchists are forming a decentralized network that builds and distributes tent-safe, alcohol-based heaters to those without shelter.
“The project wasn’t something new, it was developed over the years, in many different forms,” wrote members of HeaterBloc, a Portland-based collective that released the open-source guide for building heaters, in a message to Motherboard. “It starts off with an idea, then that idea is built upon. It evolves, it spreads, it takes on a life of its own. This year, we were just fortunate enough to settle on a safe and cost efficient design.”
The units cost about seven dollars each when components are purchased in bulk, and they can be used for both cooking and warming small indoor spaces for hours at a time. If the heater tips over, the flame automatically burns out and, with proper ventilation, the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is minimal because isopropyl alcohol combusts cleanly.