Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Rocket Stove firing up



Rocket stove blasts off
My sun oven stays hanging on the wall on overcast days, of which there are many in a Hamilton summer.  Even on bright hot days my shabby old model is not efficient enough to bake or roast- its more of a slow cooker specialising in leftovers, rice and stewed fruit. For the pleasure of cooking outside and in the interests of minimising my dependence on the electricity grid I've been wondering what kind of outdoor cooker to bring into my new place.  Barbeques are ugly and getting a gas bottle refilled via bicycle would be a challenge.  Pizza ovens too big and inefficient, and besides I want to be able to boil pots not just bake bread.  No, the cutting edge of sustainable low-tech cooking these days is rocket stoves.

Feeding sticks into the rocket stove.
Rocket stoves are apparently easy to make, and I was starting to research designs and gather materials when my friend Chris Fairly brought around his new one for me to try. Chris is a talented potter and and he's just finished making this elegant stove entirely himself, right down to the glaze on the mosaic tiles. I think its by far the most beautiful and streamlined stove of all the examples I've  seen on line (which are mostly ugly industrial or gigantic hippy earth buildings).

The first stages of setting up a summer kitchen on the back porch (the sun oven is hanging on the back wall waiting for the sun to shine again)
This is Chris's first rocket stove, and now he's seen it in action he's planning to refine the design of the next one.  But I'm finding its a pleasure to cook on as well as look at. The stove had its first run cooking steak at my housewarming party in the weekend.  Since then I've been cooking simple meals every day using just a couple of handfuls of twigs.  I'm out of practice with lighting fires and while I am getting my skills back up that's the most difficult part of the operation (and its not that hard!). Once the fire is going you just have to keep feeding twigs and sticks in through the fuel magazine, so its not the kind of cooking you walk away from for long (but really, most cooking requires regular attention anyway).

Cheese toasty with spinach picked while I was cooking on the rocket stove

The fuel is the kind of twiggy wood that is not good for much else. I might have used it for kindling the woodburner, or more likely left it to slowly compost.  It's free fuel that I can collect in my garden or just walking around the neighbourhood.

 The pieces of wood or other material burn at their tips, increasing combustion efficiency, creating a very hot fire, and eliminating smoke. The low-mass stove body and insulated chimney ensure that the heat goes into the cooking pot, not into the stove.  (Solar cookers world network)

Rocket stove fuel (in the background you can see the potatoes I'm growing in sacks)
Now that I've got comfortable with the basics of rocket stove cooking I'm ready to tackle some more complicated dishes. Check back for results over the next while.

The rocket stove heating leftover ginger-garlic rice with freshly picked snow peas (this was before I moved it onto the porch so I can use it in the rain)

17 comments:

Glen Ganaway said...

Thank you for offering a good looking rocket stove. So many of them I've seen are not attractive.

Anonymous said...

I love it! I want one! They are so elegant looking. :)

Slow combustion heaters Sydney said...

The design is very good but I want to see other stoves also to make an opinion.Slow combustion heaters Sydney

Anonymous said...

I'm interested this rocket stove. It's very artistically. I want make it. Could you teach what used material of fuel magazine?

Anonymous said...

I'm interested this rocket stove. It's very artistically. I want make it. so... could you teach what used materials?

Slow combustion heaters said...

It is a nice sharing and a good idea also.Can it burn hardwoods also?Slow combustion heaters

Anonymous said...

wow, this is a great looking stove. do you have any design plans or drawings you could post? anything rough would be fine. Just so I have a few ideas as to how it was made. thanks!

Hope Esperanza said...

I would love plans or links to this stove too! Awesome job!
~Hope

Hope Esperanza said...

Wow, too! I'd also be interested in plans for this beautiful stove. Beautiful work!

Kathy said...

You have entered the incredible world of cook stoves. I was president of biomass energy foundation and we devipoled and fabricated top lit updraft stoves for global utilization in primitive indigenous communities. Research topics would include Dr. Thomas Reed, the grandfather of biofuels, and this TLUD wood gas stoves. You might also check out Drtlud.com. This is the site for the work of Dr Paul Anderson. Best wishes in your journey

Virginia Lincoln said...

I would also like the plans to make one, or where to go to buy one.

Anonymous said...

we have a permaculture demo garden with lots of mosaic and this would be perfect for it! any way to contact the artist? www.facebook.com/gardenstation

Moira said...

I would love to have one with a chimney pipe...

Pilar Cruz said...

I want one please! Great idea!

Pilar Cruz said...

Gorgeous creation! Who can I contact for more information? www.facebook.com/freedomwithpilar

Pilar Cruz said...

I love this artistic masterpiece! Where can I get more information? www.facebook.com/freedomwithpilar

Keith Proctor said...

This would be great in developing countries. It looks like artwork rather than a handout and it's uber efficient!