For those living outside Western Society’s normal parameters for ‘comfort living’, there are certain staple needs that can take concerted effort on a daily basis — but are uncompromisingly important to survival and good (sustainable) health. They include:
- Food supply
- Shelter from the elements (wet, cold, heat, airborne pollutants — both structural and clothing)
- Security from violence and theft
- Cooking heat
Anyone who is good at building a camp fire understands that the key to starting and keeping a consistent fire with usable heat is the ‘chimney effect’, which can be achieved by any method that directs or allows air to enter the center of the fire from underneath. Heat rises, so ‘upward’ will always be the direction of airflow in a successful fire. That means you shouldn’t gamble that enough airflow will enter from the sides — gusts of wind and obstructions may reduce the flame’s ability to find ‘food’ (oxygen).
A ‘rocket stove‘ is a construction that is designed to feed air from the bottom — in such a way that you get the most heat, in the most sustainable way. If done well, it also makes for the most efficient use of your fuel; this is important not just to reduce the amount of gathering before a meal can be prepared — it’s also a pretty big deal if you consider how much material gets used in a geographic area… eventually that supply is going dwindle to the point of negative consequences.
You’ll want the most heat, and the least ‘lost energy’ from lack of direction, smoke, and flames that dance around in an unpredictable way. There are hundreds of examples out on YouTube showing how people have accomplished this to fit their own needs… and quite a few commercially-produced stoves now capitalize on this principle.
Here is a great example of one created from cinder blocks — which can be had for just a few dollars at your local home-improvement store (instead of spending more than $100 at the same retailer for an ornate ‘fire pit’), or constructed from reclaimed materials (construction sites, decommissioned or condemned buildings, junkyards).
LINK: “Rocket Stove” (Wikipedia.org)
LINK: “Hobo Stove” (Wikipedia.org)
LINK: “How to make a Rocket Stove from a #10 Can and 4 Soup can” (Instructables.com)
LINK: “Building a rocket stove to heat up the house” (MNN.com)
LINK: “EcoZoom Stove – Wood, Biomass, or Charcoal” (Amazon.com)
LINK: “Rocket Stove Design: Efficiency & Power” (EcoZoomStove.com)
LINK: “Zoom Jet Design Process” [PDF] (EcoZoomStove.com)
LINK: “Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves: Stoves” (CleanCookStoves.org)
LINK: “The Rocket Stove design used in Haiti” (GuatemalaWoodstoveProject.wordpress.com)
LINK: “5 Reasons to Love Rocket Stoves” (ValhallaMovement.com)
LINK: “Rocket Stove Instructional DVD” (Kickstarter.com)
LINK: “One simple thing in the Congo” (CNN.com)
LINK: “New Mud Stove for Refugees mar 28 2009” [PDF] (RocketStove.org)
LINK: “IRS Assembly Guide 10 27 2010” (RocketStove.org)
LINK: “Aprovecho Research Center – Stove Design” (Aprovecho.org)