As winter creeps closer and temperatures drop, many people without homes will be looking for ways to stay warm and one man is hoping to help.

Mike Hay, a contractor and business owner from Nanaimo, B.C., has been making “hope stoves” to give to those in need.

Hay loves to camp out in Vancouver Island’s backcountry, and is familiar with how frigid the weather can be sleeping in a tent.

He and his wife take donated wax, wicks and paint cans and turn them into portable heaters that recipients can use to stay warm and heat up food. They melt the wax and pour it into the cans, filling them halfway, then add 5 cotton wicks to each can. The top half of the can and its lid all get holes punched into them for airflow.

The “hope stoves” have lids for two reasons: so they can be cooked on and to keep users safe. If the cans tip over, the melted wax will put out the flame.

“We definitely want to help people, not hurt people. With the paint cans, that lid can be banged on after it’s lit… wax will definitely spill out of the holes and make a mess but the fire’s completely contained in,” Hay said.

The couple make about 10 stoves a night. Each unit can burn for about 12 hours straight. They’ve paired up with thrift shops to set up drop-off points so people in the community can donate, and posted a video teaching others how to make the stoves.

Hay said people receiving the stoves were unsure about them at first but welcome them now.

“At first I was apprehensive but I just go up to them and say, ‘hey, can you guys use one of these?’ and they’re like ‘what do you have there?’ and I explain it to them and then it is nothing but smiles and appreciation and gratitude.” 

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