Rocket Stoves, Rocket Stove Heaters and Rocket Stove Mass Water Heaters

The amazing simplicity and efficiency of rocket stoves, rocket stove mass heaters and rocket stove mass water heaters. What they are, how they work and how to make your own.

What is A Rocket Stove?

In essence, a rocket stove is a “J” shaped contraption. At the bottom end of the J is a small opening called the feed, where you add your fire’s fuel. Underneath that is a gap to allow air to flow in. Then you have a long chimney or heat riser, its length having a ratio of 5:1 or 6:1 in relation to the feed. There’s other types you can look up as well, like the “batch box” style.

Image from Instructables

What’s So Cool About A Rocket Stove?

  • Rocket stoves reduce smoke and harmful emissions (less air pollution).
  • They use less fuel (some say up to 80% less than a traditional wood fire) to create more heat.
  • Rocket stoves can use any dry plant matter, not just wood – it’ll cook a meal with some dry leaves and twigs.
    can use most any dry plant matter, not just wood — leaves, twigs, and brush will work as well.
  • More efficient cooking.
  • Inexpensive to use and inexpensive to make.
  • Can heat a home, heat water and be cooked on!

How Do They Work?

Rocket stoves, unlike rockets, are actually very low tech. They get their name from the sound they make when they burn. What makes a rocket stove so efficient is the airflow – the air rapidly gets sucked up the heat riser (pipe) which causes the fuel to burn super hot and almost complete combustion of the fuel happens. As a result, very little smoke is released while a lot of heat is created.

Great explanation and demonstration of a batch style rocket mass heater by ABC Acres

Make Your Own DIY Basic Rocket Stove

You can make a basic rocket stove out of various materials, depending on what you have available, your preferences and what you want to use it for. For example, if you’d just like to use it to cook a one pot meal, a simple 16 brick stove will do the trick. I’ve seen them made from left over cement, welded together metal, clay and cinder blocks. Aim for the 5 or 6 to 1 ratio from feeder to heat riser and you’re ready to go!

Rocket Stove Mass Water Heater

After researching and pricing solar water heating systems, I went on to look at back up water heating systems for the solar geyser and came across the Rocket Stove Mass Water Heater. If you’ve got time, these two videos below demonstrate the basics. There is a ton of information online and you can really adapt your build to suit your unique requirements.

This shows a rocket stove mass water heater at its most basic
This one’s by Geoff Lawton (love his videos!) and gets more detailed – really worth a watch.

Our Plans

Well, I’m in love with the whole rocket stove concept! We have bought a small metal rocket stove (found it on Gumtree for R550) to try out while we camp on our land. Once we’re familiar with it, I’d like to experiment with building up around the stove with insulation to create a larger cooking surface and heat retention area. I figured metal would be a good base / core to build around.


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