How to make a rocket stove!


A rocket stove is basically a very efficient transportable stove that runs on small twigs. It’s perfect to take camping, to boil a cup of tea while you’re down the back of the yard gardening, or for when we run out of fossil fuels. All you need to make it are tin cans which would otherwise go to waste, and a few other common household bits and pieces.

This snazzy design was dreamed up by Aprovecho, a US appropriate technology organisation (www.aprovecho.org). It was taught to Joel and I in a workshop at the Village Building Convergence 08 in Portland, USA, and we have since gone on to run several stove making workshops at home in Adelaide, Australia.

lighting the stove at the Academy of DIY workshop

stove-making workshop at the Academy of DIY

group stove-making workshop, Academy of DIY

To make this stove, you will need about 1.5 hours and the following items:

1 x 2950g (1 gallon) can – with the base still attached, and the lid kept
4 x 400g cans
Can opener
Pair of tin/aviation snips
Texta
Insulating material (ie perlite, sawdust, wood ash, dry soil, aluminium foil, clay/straw mix etc)

the equipment

For safety’s sake, you may also want some leather gloves, or alternatively, just use band aids!

Band-aid help

1. Remove the top and bottom from 2 of the small cans. Use the texta to trace the circumference of a small can about 1cm from the bottom of the big can. Cut out this circle with the tin snips, it can be tricky to get started, you’ll need to punch the initial hole with a few strong jabs with the end of the tin snips. Check that the hole is big enough to fit the small can!

2. Trace the same diameter circle again on the small can that still has its base intact – trace as close to the bottom as possible and cut. Then insert the can, will take a bit of playing around to get it to fit snugly.

3. When the cans are fitted in the elbow, trace the excess metal that juts into the airway into strips, then cut these strips and fold them up as tabs so that the airway is as open as possible.

4. Fit the third can on the top, some cans work better than others for this, so you may need to play around cutting inserts to either fit it inside or on the outside of the bottom can.

first stages

5. Connect the whole airway in and around the large can. Next, trace around the top of the protruding top can and cut it off to just above the top of the big can.

6. Cut V-cuts (about 2-3cm depth) around the top of the large can, making around 16 tabs in total. These are what the saucepan/kettle will end up sitting on!

7. Trace another circle in the centre of the lid of the big can, and cut out this hole too.

8. With small cans in place, fill the large can with your chosen insulation material, make sure you pack this down well.

second stages

9. Cut small tabs around the top of the chimney at frequent intervals.

10. Fold down a third of the tabs on the large can, place the large lid on top, fold down another third of the tabs on the large can on top of the lid, and the rest of the tabs on the outside you leave up for the pot to sit on. Then fold all the small tabs on the central can down over the lid to lock it in place.

final stages

11. Halve the last can, flatten it out and cut into a square shape. Cut slits in the front piece of the chimney, and insert the flat can. Your twigs/sticks will sit on this flat piece.

12. You are ready to light your stove! Load newspaper and small twigs in the top, once you have a good flame, feed in bigger sticks from the front. Initially there will be smoke, but this should die down within a few minutes and then you’ll have a super warm little place to cook yer stuff.

Bring on the future!

Bring on the future!

Blog entry by Sophie.

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