One of our major homestead goals is self sufficiency and self reliance. This concept is broad and far reaching, encompassing many things such as cooking from scratch, growing/raising your own food, making medicines and not being reliant on city provided commodities like water and electricity.
If you are working towards self sufficiency as well check out this blog post from last year – Six Areas to Help Build a More Self Sufficient Life. Remember to be kind to yourself. Self sufficiency does not happen in a day and it also doesn’t need acreage and rural living to be possible. We named our homestead Snail Trails for a reason… slow and steady wins the race 😉
This is where our rocket stove project comes in. Not only did we want a cook top that didn’t require electricity (or propane), we also wanted a way to cook and water bath can that didn’t involve heating up the house in the dead of the summer. There is nothing worse than watching that hydro meter creep up higher and higher while you run your AC and stove at the same time.
Frugal for the Win
As many of you know, I am also very frugal. We are often found using “what we have” or “what’s lying around” to complete our projects. While it would be nice to have everything perfect and brand new, that simply isn’t practical for us from a budget standpoint.
Sometimes we don’t have what we need just lying around, but thankfully this project is still inexpensive even when purchasing all new materials. If memory serves all of the materials cost me $36 total. Not too bad at all!
What Exactly IS a Rocket Stove?
And Why Do I Want One?
A rocket stove is an extremely efficient and hot burning stove that using a small amount of wood fuel. Described as “small diameter” wood fuel chamber, the combustion chamber contains an insulated vertical chimney which ensures you get almost complete combustion before the flames even reach the cooking surface. Sound very fancy, but what this translates to is a hot stove with very little fuel (and almost no smoke). Pretty awesome right?
These stoves were originally designed with developing countries in mind due to their need to cook, but with limited access to resources. They are also extremely practical for camping, folks who live off-grid and those who wish to keep their dependence on city/province provided fuels down (like us).
Now why would you want a rocket stove? Well it’s simple to build, saves on fuel and helps to keep heat out of your house during the summer months. Plus you will also have a simple and effective way to cook if you lose power during a storm – something that happens to us a lot in the winter months. While I am not a full-fledged prepper, I do believe it’s wise to be prepared for all manner of situations and scenerios. I love the comfort in knowing
How Do You Make One?
So let’s get down to the nitty gritty of it yes? If you are hoping to build a single burner rocket stove check out Attainable Sustainable’s post here. She’s got a nifty one.
We liked the idea of double burners for a few reasons. First, my canning pot is large and it may require both burners being used to keep a sustained boil going. Plus we liked the added bonus of being able to cook two things at once – like pasta on one and warming pasta sauce on another (as an example).
What You’ll Need
- 5 cinder blocks
- 2 concrete pavers
- 2 small bricks
Please note: If you can find an “H” shaped cinder block you will not need the pavers and small bricks. We purchased those to create an “H” shape because we couldn’t find exactly what we needed.
You may require additional pavers if you need to construct a fire safe area to build your rocket stove on. We used our patio as the base so they were unnecessary for us.
Using three of your cinder blocks – lie one down on the ground horizontally with a flat side facing up. Place two cinder blocks on either side, vertically, ensuring an opening is facing in on both sides. This will become your fuel chamber and chimney.
In this step you are building your “H” shape on top of the first horizontal cinder block. As I mentioned, if you can find an “H” shaped cinder block you can avoid this step. If you can’t they are easy to construct with one or two bricks in the middle and two pavers.
The “H” shape is necessary as it extend the heat chambers and forms the foundation for the chimney.
In this next step you will be placing the remaining two cinder blocks on top of the “H” you created. Both lying horizontally with the openings facing towards the sky.
The final step is placing a grate or old stove burner on top of the two cinder block openings that will serve as “burners”. You need to do this because if you were to place your cookware directly on top of the cinder block it would cut off the oxygen flow to your fire and it would die rather quickly.
Interestingly enough has proven to be the difficult part for us – not placing the burners on (ha ha), finding them! We assumed that this would be easy – hit up a few antique stores and done. Sadly this has not been the case for us and we are still on the hunt for our second burner. Thankfully a friend came through for the first and we do have one fully functioning burner on our rocket stove.
Side Note: After watching a few Doug and Stacy videos of their rocket stove in action we realized that you don’t really need burners. You simply need a way to keep the pots and pans directly off the cinder block. Doug uses a few pieces of thin brick to prop up his pots. Worked perfectly in this video. He also mentioned using pieces of tile in the past. Lots of great ideas!
Use your beautiful, fully functioning and frugal rocket stove to make something yummy. For our first test run we heated up leftovers and it worked perfectly. We learned quickly that you definitely want a few larger pieces of wood in your stove instead of just using twigs and dried leaves. You can just use twigs etc. but you will be feeding your fire constantly. Once we added a larger piece of wood into the fuel chamber it burned well and for a loner period of time.
Enjoy and thanks for joining me on our rocket stove adventure!
Happy outdoor cooking,
P.S. Please pin for future reference and to share the rocket stove love 😉