Cinder Block Rocket Stove

My 11-year-old built his first rocket stove on December 20th, 2011. It took him about 30 minutes.

Few things help an individual more than to place responsibility upon him, and to let him know that you trust him. — Booker T. Washington

I had to watch my son from indoors so he wouldn’t hear me gasp.   I know he can do this safely, but it is hard to stop being mamma bear!

* * *

I wanted the option of cooking in my fireplace.  In a search for the best solution, I found the rocket stove.  It is the most fuel-efficient wood burning stove and can be made with FREE materials.   It was designed by engineer Dr. Larry Winiarski who studied combustion for 30 years.  He designed it to solve a problem with fuel waste and toxic emissions which have accelerated the spread of deforestation and respiratory diseases.

A properly made rocket stove has almost no smoke emissions.  It efficiently burns small twigs hot enough to cook a meal.   The rocket stove can be made with different materials.

A rocket stove made of cement blocks is not the most fuel-efficient rocket stove because cement is a high mass material, but it was fast and easy to make, and can double as a space heater.  It takes longer to cook food because the cooking heat is absorbed into the cement AND food.

The cinder block rocket stove was too tall for cooking in my fireplace, but it would be okay for just space heating.   I could have made it shorter by removing the top cinder block and adding four fire bricks for the pot rest but my main interest in this one was to have a rocket stove we could leave outside in any weather.   I expect the tin can rocket stove to work best in my fireplace.   I will discuss that in a separate post.

Though the sticks appeared very dry, they were not dry enough to stay lit without creating lots of smoke.   I made my son stop after 40 minutes of restarting the fire.

Ever since then my son has dried the twigs in the solar oven before burning it because our goal is to have as little smoke emissions as possible.  If you don’t have a solar oven, put the twigs in a sunny spot in your car.   It will work fine as a dehydrator.   My neighbors are used to my unconventional ways.   I hope your neighbors are as kind to you as mine are toward me.

Additional Resources

For more technical information on Dr. Winiarski’s rocket stove read pages 19-28 in the booklet “Capturing Heat.”

If you want to see it in action, check out this video.  I also found these videos and articles helpful:

Rocket Grill

How to Make a 16 Brick Rocket Stove

Rocket Stove Design Guide

Design Principles for Wood Burning Cook Stoves

How to Make Home Made Refractory Bricks

How to Make A Ceramic Rocket Stove

How to Build A Small Rocket Stove (with refractory brick)

Making Light Weight Refractory Ceramic from Perlite and Clay

The Aprovecho Research Center won Ashden Awards in 2006 and 2009 for their work on rocket stoves.

Stove Man explains the value of a rocket stove for the 2.5 billion people who must cook their meals over a fire every day.    His presentation is brief.  It is packed with information, compassion and humor.  I hope you take the time to watch “Stoveman Trailer”.


About Hemet Sunshine

I am a homeschooling mom living in Hemet, California. I am interested in building a better community for the ones I love.
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2 Responses to Cinder Block Rocket Stove

  1. Pingback: How A Homeschooler Enters The RIMS Science Fair | Hemet Sonshine

  2. Pingback: Inside A Tin Can Rocket Stove | Hemet Sunshine

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