Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

When I asked for a few guest posts while DRG and I take a mini vacation, Caroline Cooper showed her generous spirit and sent me this piece on rocket stoves. Thank you Caroline!
Posted on June 26, 2012 by 

rocket stove erika Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

A rocket stove is very easy for anyone to use. Erika is making pastured paleo burgers for dinner with homemade mustard, ketchup, cheese sauce and lettuce for the wrap.

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.

rocket stove wood Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

Any fuel can be used in a rocket stove. I have used scrap wood, small branches, bark, office paper and junk mail. What is surprising is how little fuel is needed for cooking a meal.

rocket stove firebox Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

Here is the firebox. After the fire is started very little smoke is produced. If you have ever cooked over an open fire you will know why smokeless cooking is a wonder of the modern world.

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.

stone rocket stove Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

Rocket stoves can be made anywhere and with natural materials. This rocket stove was made with granite beach rocks in the Broken Group Islands after our MSR gas stove stopped functioning.

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 build one, and it works as advertised. For more information about mass rocket stoves for heating your home please see this article on

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2 thoughts on “Sustainable System: Rocket Stoves

  1. Pingback: Where There Is No Kitchen: Cooking When The Grid Goes Down | Survival Sherpa

  2. Pingback: Cooking over a small fire - Page 2

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