Make a Stove Out of a Soda Can

Written by Mike Young

Imagine that you are in a winter storm blackout and all you have is your six pack of soda to get you through the emergency.

This article will teach you how to take your favorite soda and make it become an awesome survival stove! Follow the instructions below to see how you can do it!

You’ll Need:
• Soda Cans – minimum of two
• Exacto Knife or Knife
• Scissors
• Drill with 1/16th Bit

Directions:
Drill 10-12 holes into the rim of a soda can. These holes will become the gas jets and should probably be big enough to let enough gas out. That means that if you’re using a drill, use at least a 1/16th bit to drill your holes.

You’ll then want to drill three holes into the center of the concave base of the can. These will be used for filling the stove with fuel.

Use a knife to mark a consistent line around the can. Holding a knife at a level plane, rotate the can around, making a groove around the can.

Cut the tops off the cans about 1 inch above where your knife marked previously.

Working your way around the can, cut ½-inch wide tabs from the top to the groove that you created previously.

Bend each tab back and forth until it makes a clean break from the base of the can. Continue to do this with all the tabs until you have a clean break all the way around the can.

The next step is to next the two halves together. The top should fit into the bottom. To make this easier, you may want to make little indentations in the top half to slip into the bottom a little easier.

Slip the sections together – top half fitting into the bottom half. Be patient as this may take a long time to fit together correctly.

Once the top half is in place, gently apply pressure with a book to push the sections closer together.

The final result is a lightweight stove that can be carried in your pocket, in an emergency pack or on any backpacking trip.

Simply fill the concave cavity about 3 times with an alcohol-based fuel and allow it to drain into the can. Then you add a little bit of fuel to the outside of the can – as primer – and light that to start the burner. After the primer burns off, the fuel on the inside of the can should be lit and coming out of the holes in the top of the can!

Updated June 1, 2013

68 Comments

  1. Steve wrote:

    OK, unless I’m going blind, no where do you mention the type of fuel. I assume it is some kind of alcohol, but this could be a liability nightmare if someone assumes you can use gasoline, since you mention “gas” several times. Even in the list of “You’ll need” items, you need to mention the fuels you can use. Just warning you!

    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:08 am
  2. David A in OKC,OK wrote:

    Propane,Butane,Lighter Fluid?? WHICH KIND of Fuel!?

    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:23 am
  3. Peter in WV wrote:

    My thoughts exactly!

    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:53 am
  4. John wrote:

    I would think a lighter fluid for a Zippo lighter such as Ronson would be adequate.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 4:06 am
  5. Bking wrote:

    What “fuel”?

    June 3rd, 2013 at 4:40 am
  6. James C Pittsburgh, PA wrote:

    Yes, fuel should have been identified. Looks like you could gave a “loose cannon” here. You better not be trying to do this inside your tent!

    June 3rd, 2013 at 4:45 am
  7. Bryan wrote:

    Is it sitting on a stern can (that the bottom is removed)? Or perhaps filled with alcohol given the color of the flame.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 5:18 am
  8. Mark Hadley wrote:

    The best fuel to use is called NEET. It is just a form of alcohol and is found in the automotive section of Walmart, etc. It comes in yellow bottles, and in 4-packs; it is cheap, so stock up. Beyond that, you may use any denatured alcohol, but don’t use the watered-down rubbing alcohol.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 5:18 am
  9. Aislinn wrote:

    I see the paint burning off the can. That might
    be rather toxic in a closed in area, so i would
    say you should use this only in a well ventilated area.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 5:27 am
  10. Karen wrote:

    I think if I was going to stock up on specialty fuel, I’d remember to get a stove also…

    June 3rd, 2013 at 5:28 am
  11. Aislinn wrote:

    I just thought of something else. If that’s an electric drill and it’s a blackout, then you may have to use an ice pick or large nail to poke the holes in the can. Just a thought.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 5:29 am
  12. Cattrastrophy wrote:

    I have made & used these for some time now. Best fuel is 100% isopropyl alcohol (from your local hardware store) but 70% works also. Have not heard of or used NEET, cannot find any info. One difference is the the top with the holes is open to pour the fuel in. Put just enough to come the top of dome of the bottom part. You only need this to burn for approx. 5 minutes. Any more and the can will become over heated. Also, these are best for survival situations to boil water, not cook a meal.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 5:32 am
  13. DDearborn wrote:

    Hmmm

    Lots of constructive comments here. But bear in mind the basic idea was that this was a winter emergency situation and your survival was at stake.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 6:11 am
  14. Scott wrote:

    Please see what Cattrastrophy wrote ^^

    He/She is spot on.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 6:38 am
  15. Kelly wrote:

    I had many of the same questions. One thing to remember if your using it as a heat source to cook with, I would recommend placing a circle of rocks (size depend upon what you are using. Pan, steel can etc.) this way the weight is NOT on the can itself. As for fuel it all depends upon what you have and the temperature the fuel burns at. For example a charcoal briquette will melt aluminum. Aluminum melts at approx 1,220 degrees Fahrenheit. I have to give out Kudos to pretty much all of these comments and suggestions one intelligent group of people

    June 3rd, 2013 at 6:39 am
  16. JJ wrote:

    An aluminum can is pretty flimsy material (and small) to make a device like this out of. What ever happened to the “hobo stove”? When I was a kid we made them out of 5 lb. coffee cans (about the same size as a #10 can). They’re steel, larger, use wood for fuel, they last and work great.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 6:58 am
  17. Kyle wrote:

    The NEET referenced is actually HEET, a gasoline additive in your automotive section. Its cheap and does work. 90% alcohol is best for fuel but as low as 70% will work, albeit harder to light. This is also good for Hexamine or Esbit tablets to burn in the concave section. The key here is that it will use any fuel that the fumes are flammable.
    This will require a stand above it for optimal use, as it will snuff out the fire if you put a small pot directly on it. There are other versions of this basic stove you can make with stabilizers should you want a sturdier stove, but this one is really great for minimum space and simplicity to use.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 7:05 am
  18. trailblazer wrote:

    Cat food flats work better, heavier metal. Also add insulation to interior to act as a wick, example a zippo lighter. Fuel is alcohol as stated above, anything else and something/someone gonna get burned. Also believe NEET should be HEET, a fuel additive. These little stoves are cute and for me a novelty. Most sporting goods carry a nice folding backpack type stove that uses sterno fuel and should be near item. These you can cap to extinguish, they burn hot and last many hours, depending on size. Be sure to follow instructions on can. Persons could also use fuel, commercial made, for heating buffets used by catering companies, SAM’s Walmart branch carries them.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 7:27 am
  19. Sam wrote:

    Ok, does everything have to be spelled out for some of you? The choice of fuel, since this pertains to survival, is whatever the hell you have on hand or thought to have in preparation. Good god, not sure how some of you manage to get up in the morning and get dressed let alone survive anything.

    I’d like to add my own idea for a fuel cell, not a stove per se. Take empty, clean tuna cans and cut corrugated cardboard to fit the height. Spiral it and fit it in tight. Then take candle wax and burn it to cover the card board. Now you have a fuel cell that will burn slow. =D

    June 3rd, 2013 at 8:00 am
  20. Bettina wrote:

    Thanks for the snarky remark, Sam. Very helpful.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 8:24 am
  21. Redwing wrote:

    Well I DO carry scissors in my car but I sure don’t have an electric drill tucked in my glove box….

    June 3rd, 2013 at 9:13 am
  22. chuck wrote:

    Gasoline anti-freeze works best. Its alcohol, HEET brand is common. Yellow bottle @ auto parts store.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 9:56 am
  23. NameChuck wrote:

    Making these little stoves is a great, light weight backpacker exercise. You Tube has many different examples to chose from. I like to have several in my different kits. As far as fuel goes, I prefer Everclear. I’ve always been concerned about using fuel that is toxic by itself. Everclear – especially the higher proof versions – is a multitasker. It is good for wound sterilization, fuel for a fire, and as a drink to reduce stress and anxiety! :-) Yes, it costs more than HEET or 90% Isopropal alcohol, but I prefer it.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 10:17 am
  24. Ken wrote:

    I believe everyone is being confused by a key mis-strike.The alcohol fuel to use is called HEET,not NEET.This comes in a red bottle,and a yellow bottle.You want to use the YELLOW bottle.Do NOT use the red bottle.It is not the correct alcohol formula,and is dangerous to use in these stoves.I have been making these for myself and my buddies for many years.We used to call these “penny stoves”.The reason was we made the center hole larger to facilitate the entrance of the fuel,then controlled the air flow by placing a penny over the hole to regulate the air by moving the penny around to open or close the hole.I make mine with the top piece about 1/4″ longer,and drill the holes around the side about 1/8″ down.This allows you to set your billy,or pot,directly on the top of the stove.Much more efficient.Also,these stoves benefit greatly from using a wind break.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:47 pm
  25. Eileene wrote:

    Sam , I’m glad you talked about the cardboard fuel stoves. This is what I keep in our food storage area and in our 72 hour kits. They burn very well. Also I use a candle wick in the very center of the cardboard spiral. Thanks again for mentioning this.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 3:50 pm
  26. Carol R wrote:

    Way back in my yonder years, & since then, I have often used 2 #10 cans to do this same type of thing but leaving one can whole & cut the other in half for the top and leaving more space in the bottom can for different types of fuel, solid like charcoal or wood as well as liquid or gel types of fuels. Then I can use a pot or frying pan or other cans on top to boil water & cook food etc. Works great for emergencies or camping! Lining the top of the top can with foil shiny side up will also provide extra light! Cutting holes etc in the the cans & now you have a lantern or a heater to help keep you warm as well! Imagination is the only limit!

    June 3rd, 2013 at 7:00 pm
  27. Joan D wrote:

    I like this article and some of the feedback. It’s called “prepping” for a reason. That doesn’t mean wait until you’re “up a creek without a paddle” to look for resources like fuel or a drill. As a kid we made stoves from a #10 can but I think for a vehicle the soda stoves would save space and carrying HEET is good for he stove or the vehicle. We need all the options we can get. If the SHTF and you have these little stoves, a bottle of HEET, and matches prepackaged perhaps you can use these as a bartering item.

    June 3rd, 2013 at 9:41 pm
  28. Bad Dog wrote:

    Nobody mentioned white gas, Not sure if that would work, if it would be too hot, or must be pressurized. Also, if a ventilation hole is allowed away from the flame the stove could convect. If the holes were the right size, a flame would be allowed to burn hot outside, but would be stopped from entering the can and overheating it.

    June 4th, 2013 at 10:19 am
  29. Ken wrote:

    Sorry,Bad Dog.White gas is not a good idea.The alcohol stove is called that for a reason.It depends on essentially burning the surface vapors,which then self-pressurize.White gas is,well,GAS.It is literally an explosive,and depends on pressurization to vaporize.You would run the risk of heating your coffee over a mini-bomb.As for convection,there is a stove called the “Volcano stove”.Pricey,and bulky.I think many are missing the point of these little stoves,and that is that they are small,light (less than an ounce),and can literally be carried in a cargo pants pocket.My set-up consists of a stove,wind break (which is sheet aluminum wrapped around the stove),and a small 2 0z.bottle of Heet.This weighs 4 oz.,and takes a space of 2 1/2″X 4″.

    June 4th, 2013 at 11:48 am
  30. roblan wrote:

    I have a stove like this except it is purpose built for the Swiss Army it has a wind break and a small bottle for extra alcohol. It uses denatured alcohol, from the hardware store, couldn’t find any at Walmart. Takes about 2 minutes to heat water and is light with a cap that fits it to snuff out the fire when done, just make sure you take out the rubber gasket before you do.

    June 4th, 2013 at 12:09 pm
  31. Smart one wrote:

    Gas seems like it would blow up! >> BoOm

    June 4th, 2013 at 1:36 pm
  32. Ken wrote:

    @roblan The stove you are talking about is called the “Trangia” stove.You can buy them commercially,and with various types of stands,but they are also pricey.Much more than a discarded soda can.

    June 6th, 2013 at 1:00 pm
  33. Randy wrote:

    Use dry gas usually called “HEAT”

    June 10th, 2013 at 10:54 am
  34. rita wrote:

    this is an awesome idea thanks so much an i kno it works cos my husband made us one an we lived in a tent in Alaska in the winter thanks:)):

    June 12th, 2013 at 12:08 am
  35. Rambo Moe wrote:

    Cool Article, I’m going to share it!

    June 14th, 2013 at 6:48 pm
  36. John in Ut wrote:

    Personally for this type of setting I like the simple wood gas stoves made out of cans. There are many ways to make these and shown on YouTube. You can use your electric drill if you choose to make them ahead of an emergency, but if you don’t have power they can be made with a Swiss army knife as well.
    As for fuel all you need is twigs or I have even used dried blackberry vines. I made one for my daughter and she took it camping and loved the way it worked.

    June 22nd, 2013 at 9:55 am
  37. Anonni Moose wrote:

    I learned to make this ALCOHOL-burning stove from a YOUTUBE video. There are lots of variations in the design. It’s very similar to the Trangia alcohol burning backpacking stove design, which is factory-made from BRASS, and has a central open well where you start the flames.

    I have burned 91percent Isopropyl alcohol, and of course, this design works with HEET and denatured ethanol, or even with 151 proof RUM from a liquor store.

    DO NOT USE GASOLINE! VERY GREAT DANGER OF EXPLOSION.

    Within a minute after ignition, the alcohol is evaporating from the heat, and the vapor begins to expand and jet from the holes around the rim. Those holes can be VERY tiny and work fine. Don’t overfill the stove. About one-quarter of capacity will burn long enough and convey enough heat to a metal pot or cup to bring water to a boil in less than five minutes normally. Just enough to make hot soup, coffee, chocolate, or oatmeal. You can’t reasonably expect to make a stew or potroast, but you can certainly boil enough water to make a serving of just about ANY freeze-dried entree. You can make several of these and heat each person’s serving separately instead of in succession. About a third of a cup of 91 percent alcohol is enough to boil 1 & 1/2 cups of water. YOUR RESULTS MAY VARY, depending on your altitude, the start temp of the water to be boiled, and the alcohol content of the fuel.

    June 23rd, 2013 at 3:43 am
  38. Backpacker wrote:

    Okay, so if I need to make this, then carry it and some Coleman fuel into the woods then why wouldn’t I just bring along a proper stove to begin with? I thought the whole point was to make a stove in an emergency?

    Here’s a better idea: bring some waterproof matches, build a rock fire-ring, burn some wood and use the can as a pot.

    July 15th, 2013 at 12:00 pm
  39. Don wrote:

    Imagine that you are in a winter storm blackout and all you have is your six pack of soda to get you through the emergency.
    This being the case, if you have a six pack of soda, where do you get the stuff needed when all the stores are closed? Having been in black outs (lived on Donner Summit for 10 years) I know that you have to have the stuff you need in advance and would have to make this in advance. If you are going to do that, why not just have a camp stove and Sterno ready to go? Or build a fire and cook over that? This looks like a good way for a novice to kill themselves. Sorry, been a mountain man in 67 feet of snow one winter, did search and rescue, and know the danger of those who do not know what they are doing.

    August 28th, 2013 at 2:10 pm
  40. Manny Fragoza wrote:

    Someone mentioned about the toxicity of the paint on the can.Good observation! You should sand the can down completely before you start any cutting.

    November 30th, 2013 at 1:32 am
  41. GRG wrote:

    Heet in the YELLOW bottle is a good fuel but be careful it burns very “hot” and is hard to see it burning in the day light. You could get burnt if you are not careful.

    February 16th, 2014 at 1:26 am
  42. Gonzo wrote:

    Check out the Solo Stove
    it can burn just about any fuel

    February 16th, 2014 at 2:38 pm
  43. Get2Prep wrote:

    Obvious these stoves are not the ideal, nor the safest way to warm up, especially if there are other choices.
    But with caution & common sense, they can be useful when left with no other options.
    For those who have just begun learning about survival, homemade alcohol burning stoves are inexpensive & simple to make.
    Fuel should be used with common sense. I sincerely doubt and HOPE most people reading this would even consider using gasoline as a fuel.
    Keep it inexpensive, portable & safe. An alcohol based gel hand cleanser (unscented if possible) will work nicely. One can find 2 bottles for $1.00 at many discount stores. Always use a small amount to start. Always use in an open-air space – never indoors!
    As to the suggestions made to just purchase a portable stove, there are those who may just not have the $.
    Finally, for “drilling” holes, it is doubtful that in a survival siuation one would have a power drill on hand. Just carefully use the tip of a knife.

    February 22nd, 2014 at 12:55 pm
  44. Clay wrote:

    If power is not available for your drill you can use a thumb tack to poke holes in the can.

    February 24th, 2014 at 4:41 pm
  45. NameCarl wrote:

    I would use Coleman Fuel. It’s available any where there’s a store with sporting supply department.

    March 7th, 2014 at 6:59 am
  46. Madelaine wrote:

    I think whoever made this stove needs to find a new hobby. Talk about a lot of work for little gain. The chances are extremely remote that if you ever found yourself in such an emergency, that you would have a drill, knife, scissors and, oh yeah, some fuel in your back pocket. Clever use of too much time on your hands, friend.

    March 13th, 2014 at 9:31 am
  47. GYPSY wrote:

    Too complicated and carrying a knife or Swiss Knife or pointed scissors is a crime. Finding them in your trunk or glove compartment or on your body is CARRYING a CONCEALED DEADLY WEAPON.

    USE A FAT 6 inch candle and a rack or FONDUE BOTTOM. Always have a candle with you. Fondue sets are best for emergency beverage heating.

    March 23rd, 2014 at 6:15 am
  48. Theuns wrote:

    Obviously there are better ways to cook. Use you electric or gas plate if you have it. Use your wood fire if there is wood around. Use the cardboard wax if you have that, or always carry a candle!

    but just maybe, you’re out in the desert, with no wood to burn. By happy chance you have a bottle of high-alcohol liquid or HEET, with you and some sort of can. Then you use this.

    Don’t assume your one camping experience or 67 years of experience is the sum-total of humanity’s experience…

    April 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am
  49. atasteofcreole wrote:

    Article quite plainly states “Simply fill the concave cavity about 3 times with an alcohol-based fuel and allow it to drain into the can. Then you add a little bit of fuel to the outside of the can – as primer – and light that to start the burner.”

    HEET is not good. I’d use sterno or alcohol.

    August 20th, 2014 at 5:58 am
  50. Lee wrote:

    First lets put this article in perspective, it says for emergency situations, where all you may have is a 6 pCk of soda for survival. Second most people that have drills have cordless drills and keep them charged for the critics that will say they won’t be charged. Third the article says to use an alcohol based fuel. Not Coleman fuel or white gas for the idiots that are trying to blow themselves up. Alcohol based fuel rubbing alcohol with at least 70% alcohol or drinking alcohol with 100% or higher alcohol or in some cases some men’s colones or ladies perfumes or other products that may contain high amounts of alcohol. These are meant to be used in we’ll ventalated areas. It is not meant to use in a car as it gets hot and the dash the carpet and the seats will all melt and give off toxic fumes. Use common sense here. It’s survival not rocket science.

    August 20th, 2014 at 9:15 am
  51. Alan Satow wrote:

    This article was badly written on the “penny stove”, a simple stove with too many shortcuts on the build.

    August 20th, 2014 at 9:28 am
  52. Tom wrote:

    Imagine that you are in a winter storm blackout and all you have is your six pack of soda to get you through the emergency. You should have also said imagine you have all these other items handy. If all you have is a six pack of Soda, your a dead man (or woman).

    August 20th, 2014 at 11:32 am
  53. Hal wrote:

    What is the point of critiquing the article? If you don’t like the suggested way to do it, don’t do it! The article is designed to help out in an emergency. It is just a way to make one think of possible solutions. It, along with some of the comments, has given me food for thought.

    August 20th, 2014 at 11:46 am
  54. Frank wrote:

    Good article even with the minor mistakes or omissions. The main thing here is to realize that these little homemade or in the field expediency stoves can be made from whatever you have on hand or can find at the moment.

    You can vary the type of cans and the size, the dimensions of your design or the number of holes to create what you think will work best. And for those who are less familiar with such gear, you never use gasoline and alcohol or lighter fluid are the better and most common choices. And the can or tin filled with oil or wax and fitted with a wick are also just as good and the wax or other solid fuel is easier and usually safer than carrying flammable fluid.

    August 20th, 2014 at 11:54 am
  55. DiniName wrote:

    Well very interesting comments, and some helped my depression! LOL!

    August 20th, 2014 at 11:58 am
  56. Lynn wrote:

    Emergency is the key word, not going camping or playing in the woods

    August 20th, 2014 at 12:18 pm
  57. Lynn wrote:

    Emergency is the key word

    August 20th, 2014 at 12:19 pm
  58. Tom wrote:

    I always carry a pint of grain alcohol for emergencies! I started a car once with it using it as a primer after putting diesel in the tank because that was all I could get my hands on. I put diesel in the tank and poured grain alcohol down the carburetor and she fired up coughing, smoking and knocking but at least I didn’t have to walk. If your situation really goes down the tubes you can always say **** it and drink the stuff!

    August 20th, 2014 at 12:59 pm
  59. Ray wrote:

    You use alcohol. Isopropol or dry gas. Use the dry gas in the YELLOW container NOT the red one.

    August 20th, 2014 at 3:17 pm
  60. Donna wrote:

    rubbing alcohol works great, put it into a smaller screw top bottle ex. medicine bottle,and stash inside the heater. You pour the part that doesn’t burn back into the bottle after it cools. Saw it on you tube.

    August 20th, 2014 at 4:15 pm
  61. Ken wrote:

    I read alcohol based fuel; Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Isopropyl

    August 20th, 2014 at 6:03 pm
  62. That Guy wrote:

    GYPSY wrote:
    Too complicated and carrying a knife or Swiss Knife or pointed scissors is a crime. Finding them in your trunk or glove compartment or on your body is CARRYING a CONCEALED DEADLY WEAPON.

    Really?? Really??, since when? and please also state for the record what repressive state or country you live in, where everyday carry items like a Swiss Army knife is a crime??

    August 20th, 2014 at 9:10 pm
  63. The Masked Prepper wrote:

    I was reading though the comments and a few misleading fuels are listed. I only fuel I would use is Alcohol, like Ethanol, Mentholated Spirits or an approved camp stove fuel such as rubbing alcohol.
    Never use it in your tent, apart from the obvious fire hazard it will very quickly suck air from the tent and that would just suck as you pass out and die :(

    August 21st, 2014 at 4:00 am
  64. Old Timer wrote:

    One of my EDC knives is a very small Swiss Army Knife with scissors. I made the stove with this knife and a can (no other tools) in less than 5 minutes.
    BTW: In most states carrying an opened bottle of consumable alcohol in a car is against the law. Keep the seal intact on the bottle of HEET or you might violate the law!

    August 21st, 2014 at 2:24 pm
  65. Stevo wrote:

    Retards! If you are in a winter storm with nothing but a 6 pack a soda, you probably deserve to freeze your ass off.

    August 22nd, 2014 at 5:11 pm
  66. David March wrote:

    Highly entertaining to see the comments from people who evidently have not tried crafting or using a spirit stove. I can understand though. I was in Boy Scouts for a month as a kid before an injury put me out of the game till end of highschool. Living in EARTHQUAKE country for a decade made me want to learn a few self-reliance skills. I recommend a Red Cross Wilderness Emergency Response course, and learn a few different ways to make shelter and start and CONTROL fire for warmth and cooking. After decades of living in different regions with each its own disasters, I’m glad to have a few simple survival skills. Happy Prepping to All!

    August 22nd, 2014 at 9:55 pm
  67. Tom wrote:

    someone said they must be blind…because they did not see what kind of fuel…YEP…says right under the picture…Alcohol based fuel..I made one of these just to try it out..and worked pretty good actually…kind of fund

    August 24th, 2014 at 11:42 am
  68. G rimsock wrote:

    Some clown said: “Here’s a better idea: bring some waterproof matches, build a rock fire-ring, burn some wood and use the can as a pot.” – not an option during an indoor emergency. we used penny stoves during the last big blizzard and they worked wonderfully…and no, a rock ring and wood fire on the kitchen counter wouldn’t have worked…

    October 18th, 2014 at 9:33 pm

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