Over the last year we have been entertaining the idea of some kind of permanent outdoor cooking appliance for our back yard. Our choices were between a masonry oven, earth oven, or a rocket stove. After researching all three and taking an earth oven building workshop, I decided the rocket stove would be the easiest place to start. The earth oven required a large base and I wasn't sure of the quality of our local clay. The masonry oven involves a lot of brick work and I had never held a trowel before so I chose the simpler rocket stove.
A rocket stove uses a small combustion chamber to burn fuel efficiently. Unlike a campfire which can slowly draw air in from all around and gives off heat in every direction, the rocket stove creates a draft at the inlet that rapidly pulls fresh oxygen into the combustion chamber and exhausts through a small opening at the top so the energy is transferred only where the operator wants it. The setup burns the fuel efficiently so less is needed. Rocket stoves are popular in third world countries where fuel is scarce and expensive.
-76 standard construction bricks
-two and one half 60lb bags of mortar
-19" length of stainless steel vent pipe
-stainless steel angled pipe
-2 pieces of stainless steel plate
-7 gallons of wood ash
The construction bricks were 25 cents at the habitat restore. The mortar was about $8. The wood ash was free from the parents wood stove. The plate was donated but the pipe was a bit pricey at $85. I didn't want to use galvanized steel or aluminum around high heat and food.
As I said I had never picked up a trowel before this project, but after watching some master masons on you tube and consulting with both of the dads, I felt confident enough building a simple tower. I figured the worst that could happen would be some wasted time and maybe a ruined meal if it collapsed. At least it wouldn't be providing structural support for anything more than a frying pan.
The finished stove sits 36" high to approximate the working height of our kitchen stove. The middle of the opening for the fuel magazine sits 14" off the ground so we don't have to bend down too far to start and feed the fire.
I fired the stove up the next morning to boil water for coffee and try a bistro breakfast panini recipe Moriah found at Taste of Home.