A rocket stove is an efficient way to generate heat for cooking as well as warmth. Many people turn small cans into portable burners by using the principles that will be discussed here, but you can give yourself a literal furnace by using a five gallon can instead. All it takes is some sand and or plaster along with some aluminum vent pipe to create a powerful and lasting source of heat. Best of all, it requires a relatively small amount of fuel to get the job done.
Assembling the Stove
You will need some vent pipe as well as an elbow bend made from aluminum. These resemble what many homeowners have coming off of their driers. They only cost a couple of dollars and can be purchased at most home improvement stores. In an emergency, you can also pull the parts off of a dryer. The pipe needs to be as long as the can, and you will also need an additional foot of pipe as well.
You will need to cut two holes that are the same diameter as the pipe, one in the center of the lid of the can, and one on the side of the can. Cut the side hole just above the bottom rim of the can. This will be used to place fuel and keep the fire going later on. The next step is to insert the extra foot of pipe into the side hole until it reaches the center. Next, cut a piece from one end of the long pipe so that it will rest on the little one once you place it vertically in the center of the can. It should be able to rest on the bottom of the can while being snug against the side pipe.
You can also cut out some of the side pipe to make the connection between the two a bit more flush, but it is not necessary. The important thing is that your side pipe should not extend more than ¼ of the way into the center one. Next, take some fine sand and pour it between the walls of the can and the center pipe creating a doughnut shaped filling. Pack it down securely and add some water as you fill. This will help to create a very dense and packed barrier that will conduct an enormous amount of heat. Continue until the sand reaches the top of the can.
Using the Stove
All you need to do now is place the lid on top of the can and start a small fire along the side hole. You don’t need to build a large fire, and it’s better to make a smaller fire that you can maintain for a couple of hours. The sand will trap most of the heat that is generated and provide hours of radiant warmth. You can also use a sand and plaster mixture to increase the amount of heat that can be transferred from the fire to the material. If you use plaster, make sure that you are using a 50-50 blend with sand and let it dry before using.
If you are going to use the heater for heat, you can keep the lid on and enjoy the radiant warmth long after the fire goes out. If you plan on using it for a cooking stove, you can either cook directly on the lid or remove the lid and place a grill on top instead. In either case, this heater will provide an enormous amount of energy in relation to the amount of fuel that you will need, and it only takes a few minutes to have it up and running in most cases.