Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A really exciting rocket stove project

Recently my buddy Aditya and I built a Winiarski Rocket stove at our neighbor's farm to get a temporary kitchen setup going. (If you don't know the term, a rocket stove is just a more efficient wood-burning stove). There is nothing original about our design -- you can see this design well documented here, along with other designs. I thought I should share our effort anyway to inspire you to build your own. You will see the exciting part soon enough.

We picked this up at our local kabadi-wala for Rs 20. It is fairly easy to cut out the top and the round hole at the bottom with a sharp, pointy knife.
We had also picked up three smaller cans like this for Rs. 5 each. From two of these we removed the bottom as shown. Notice also the flattened edge where the lid used to fit.
We then used this metal snip (easily available in most hardware stores)...
to cut strips into one end of the same two cans.
Then we cut out a hole (same diameter as the previous can) in the third can.  Clearly not a neat job but good enough for our purposes.


Here are the three pieces assembled. While we were busy with this, I heard a rustling noise from the left edge of the room. I turned around to see a fleeting glimpse of a fast moving snake that instantly took cover behind a broom standing in the corner.
There was no further sound so we assumed that it had no intention of moving out from its new location. With hair literally standing on end, we gathered enough wits about us to pick up the camera and a proverbial 10-foot pole to knock down the broom. The result of the effort shows a clearly panicked creature here. At that point we had no idea whether this was a venomous type.
Finally, after failing to scale the wall, our reptilian roommate was able to see the door and was gone in a flash. We later found out that this was a non-venomous tree snake called the Common Bronzeback, known for its fast movement.
The previous excitement ended up affecting my documentation efforts somewhat and I forgot to take as many pictures as I would have liked. Here, the L-shaped assembly we built earlier has already been lowered into and fitted inside the the oil can and Aditya is giving it an adobe (clay + sand mix) cladding. We expect that after a few weeks of cooking, the tin internals will start to break down but leave behind a nice hollow of baked clay.
Here, the cavity between the Adobe and the outer container has been filled with wood-ash, which forms an insulating layer to keep the heat from escaping sideways. The stove is ready to use.

- Dev


  1. Great....!!!!! Congrats! Good achievement. Vanshika was excited to see the rocket stove and the very long snake! What was the reaction of abhi and aparna?

    1. Abhi was complaining: "how come you get to see all the snakes and I don't". Anyhow, last week his wish was granted and he did spot a long snake as well.

  2. Like! Like Like :)
    Did the tin internals break down and leave baked clay behind ?
    How is the smoke - smokeless ??

    1. Gayathri, Thanks! This was actually my second stove of the same design but with some differences from the first. The first one continues to work satisfactorily -- its tin innards have broken down and there is a chute of clay that works fine. However I had used too much clay and in the second design I have tried to reduce it (clay is not a good insulator). There is definitely much less smoke produced with a rocket stove.

  3. Hi Hema and Dev. Superb job! I just discovered your blog and is very interesting. I am from Tirunelveli working in Pune. Starting a farm near home town for the past 3 years. Pl visit my new blog which I intend to update as often with old and new stories. This is not the right place to introduce, but i donot know how otherwise to contact you both. http://radhamuralifarms.blogspot.in/

    1. Hi Narayanan, Thanks for reading. We will be happy to connect. My email is devkjain at gmail.