I came across an Instructables on how to make a mini rocket stove, and couldn’t resist building one of my own. If I cant have my dream cob house with a full-sized rocket stove, then I can have my mini camping rocket stove made from tin cans!
A rocket stove is a fireplace designed to burn small pieces of wood, like twigs and scraps. It is insulated to redirect heat back into the fire so that it burns more efficiently than a conventional stove, often so much so that neighbours are unable to detect a wood smoke smell (apparently).
Its not just the efficient burning that makes these stoves higher on the sustainability scale though. The fact that they work well with twigs means that you can harvest small branches from trees without killing the tree, and later return to harvest the tree’s regrowth over and over. This also means less work chopping firewood!
In a rocket stove, heat from the fire is directed back onto itself for a more complete burn.
If you are building a house with cob, it is typical to run the exhaust pipe from a stove through benches or bed platforms also made of cob which store the heat to be radiated back slowly and consistently throughout the day or night. Can you imagine how nice it would be on a cold winter’s night to curl up on a heated couch?
Anyway, building a mini rocket stove for the beach, or your emergency kit, or whatever else (your yacht?) is super easy. All you need are some tin snips and some material to insulate the chimney (for example: vermiculite, sand, pearlite), and maybe some wire clothes hangers.
Tin snips were super handy for cutting the cans. Its nice to have Electrician’s tools in the house!
Inside the unfinished rocket stove. I went overboard with some clay which wasn’t really necessary. I was too impatient to wait for it to dry before using the stove anyway, so it all cracked away. The stove works fine despite that.
Making the best smoky tomato sauce I have ever eaten!
You need to leave room to exhaust to escape. I found bending a clothes hanger worked well.
That’s a lot of soot for my first attempt at using the stove! Some not-so-efficient burning going on there, probably because the air intake became blocked by ash and coals.
Attempting to reduce soot by ensuring the air intake doesn’t become cluttered. I tested a sprout screen which restricted airflow too much. Some twisted clothes hanger alone did the trick though.
Tasty burned food! Maybe the rocket stove is better for pots and pans, ideally ones made of cast iron… This hot dog still tasted wonderful. (My partner wearily ate his out of politeness.)