Saturday, April 25, 2015

Testing of Our New Rocket Stove

Back in January I was introduced to the Rocket Stove.  It is a hand made, economical, very efficient cooking and heating tool. The principles were described by Dr. Larry Winiarski from Aprovecho in 1982 and stoves based on this design won Ashden Awards in both 2005 and 2006. Interest in rocket stoves has led to the development of rocket mass heaters and other innovations. Source and photo (left) by Wikipedia, Rocket Stove.  They are available to purchase, but can easily be built with local materials at a fraction of the cost. I don't want to under emphasize the value of how little wood this stove uses.  It has allowed people in remote African and South American countries to use small sticks, leaves and grass to cook and heat for their families and not have to wander into dangerous remote areas to collect large amounts of firewood.

I built mine with materials purchased a the local home center, some scrap 4 inch PVC pipe, cut at a 45 degree angle and an old 5 gallon bucket.  I spent about $30, for materials enough to build two stoves. I followed the instructions from Gene Lonergan on YouTube when I made the stove. I mixed my Cement/Perlite mixture at 8:1 by volume using an empty coffee can and a wheel barrow. If I did it again, I would use 6:1, decreasing its thermal conductivity a bit and increasing its mass and structural stability.  As is, the weight of my stove is about 6 lbs, and as you can see from the photo (right), is light enough to sit on a glass table without worrying about breakage.  Also notice that it is the shape of a 5 gallon bucket.

Cooking with the stove.  For free, I was able to get gas stove grates from the local scrap yard to place on top of the stove, and underneath the cooking surface to allow for adequate air flow.  With the handful of dried sticks shown, Sandy and I were able to cook a meal of Blackend fish in the cast iron skillet.

One thing I need to add is this is not a coal burning fire!  Just the opposite.  It is a voracious wood burner, but in very small amounts.  It is best to use longer sticks than the ones I used, so as to be able to feed them into the fire.  We kept stoking the fire to provide a continual hot fire throughout the cooking process, and when the meal was done we stopped the wood feed.  After that, the fire was virtually out in 10 minutes.  At no time did the table or sides of the Rocket Stove come even close to warm to the touch.  The insulating properties of the volcanic Perlite responded as predicted.

For survivalists, naturalists and those interested in inexpensive sustainable energy tools and resources, the Rocket Stove is a Top 10 innovation in my opinion!

No comments:

Post a Comment