MAKING an inexpensive ROCKET STOVE
A project that cries to be done in our small village in rural Mexico is to introduce simple "rocket stoves" that the locals can easily build themselves and which will in turn save much energy and time and resources and improve their health as well. Right now everyone cooks with wood in a very inefficient manner. Many hours a week are spent scrounging for it. Housewives scour the hills locally while the men go far out into the countryside with their burros (or mules) to cut wood and haul it home.
The wood is burned in an open elevated firebox with bricks at the side to support a grill and cooking pots.
Most of the heat goes out, not up, and wastes much firewood. Much smoke is produced.
A rocket stove is a simple device to direct the heat of a fire directly to the cooking pots
and burn the wood more completely with less smoke and ashes.
Far less wood is required which of course translates into more family time and energy available for other things than collecting firewood, not to mention less denuding of the forest cover. We must mention that deforestation was one of the main reasons for the collapse of the Mayan civilization as well as that of the Anasazi people and the Easter Islanders. (see: "Collapse: How societies choose to fail or succeed" by Jared Diamond, 2005)
While rocket stoves are often made of metal, our goal is design a stove which requires little or no manufactured materials and uses all natural earthen materials instead that the locals could put together themselves. Time and ingenuity and a love of working hard is in abundance here. Pesos to buy much of anything are not. The traditional method of building over the centuries was cob (earth, sand, straw, and sometimes manure). Houses built of cob in the Middle Ages are still standing today in parts of Europe and England. The soil needed to have a high clay-content, however, which our local soil does not have. We will use a mixture of cement, sand, and volcanic gravel called "scoria" to form a cylindrical structure with a tube going up through the center and connected to a horizontal tube going out the bottom where the fire is built. An old five-gallon paint bucket or garbage can be used for the initial forming, then removed as the mixture begins to dry and harden up. Additional plaster can be added to sculpt an attractive, perhaps even comical, looking stove.
A detailed set of pictures which show all the steps for building a natural "cob" type of Rocket Stove can be seen HERE.
© 2013 by Jim Phypers