For years I have used an assortment of stoves for camping and numerous different types of fuels. I have also cooked meals over an open fire on camping trips. That’s definitely a smoky experience. Recently, I have found a new kind of stove that has converted me over to wood based fuels.
A rocket stove uses a very small amount of wood and produces a very hot, smokeless fire. These stoves are great for cooking meals in the backyard, camping or emergency preparedness. Just about anything can be used as fuel. I have used: small branches, twigs, yard waste, scrap wood, bark, cardboard, office paper and junk mail. Burning this waste helps reduce my household waste stream and pressure on local landfills. I bought a Grover Rocket Stove but for comparison, here is a USH2 Rocket Stove.
The surprising thing about a rocket stove is how the fire burns so hot and clean. After the fire gets going there is very little smoke. The space under the fuel compartment allows air to feed the fire, producing a very powerful draft, which focuses a very hot flame on the cooking surface.
I like using a cast iron frying pan for cooking meals. A cast iron pan avoids the toxicity of Teflon and spreads the heat well and avoids burning. The rocket stove could be used with a stainless steel pot for boiling water.
The rocket stove can have the ash easily emptied anywhere in my garden that potash or lime is needed to increase soil alkalinity. It’s great to have a stove that doesn’t need any petroleum products. I am always searching for more appropriate technology. Rocket stoves can also be simply made out of fire bricks. Here is a video on this simple technology for building a rocket stove out of fire bricks and cooking food outside. The second video is about the dangers of cooking with an open fire in houses. They have developed a modified rocket stove for inside use.
Updated January 31, 2013: What would happen if a clean burning rocket stove could be brought into your house? Friends, it looks like the technology for mass rocket stoves have been worked out. Mass rocket stoves don’t have a chimney, use 1/8 to 1/4 the amount of wood, and exhaust CO2 and water vapor. No wood smoke smog! Sounds crazy, but a friend of mine has just built one, and it works as advertised. For more information about mass rocket stoves for heating your home please see this article on permies.com.