Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Rocket-powered cooking

Rocket stoves are about the coolest - uh, hottest cooking idea I've played with. The are a variation on the 'traditional' hobo stove, the variation mostly being the addition of insulation to the body of the stove.

Why Rocket Stove Rock

The rock because they take very little fuel (like, sticks rather than charcoal, logs, or fossil fuels) while producing lots of heat and very little smoke/particulates. They burn very efficently thus lowering the carbon footprint of cooking with sticks.

And they can be incredibly cheap to make.

Making a Rocket Stove

WEAR SERIOUS GLOVES! Cut edges of cans are SHARP!!!

Let me describe making a hobo stove first. At the simplest, it takes two empty cans from food with no white plastic coating on the inside. Say, a can from 15 oz of canned green beans and one can from 10 oz of condensed soup. The big can stands upright, with the open/removed top part on top. Using tinsnips, or maybe a military style can opener, you cut a hole in the side at the bottom of this can, into which you fit the other can. The other can has both top and bottom removed. The top, or I guess bottom, of the smaller can gets wedged into the maw of the smaller can to hold fuel. Put sticks on the small lid feeder, tinder in the bottom of the upright can, fire up the tinder, feed the sticks into that fire, and lots of flame comes out the top of the green beans can.

Now, to make the simplest rocket stove, get a bigger can yet. Maybe from a big can of sweet potatoes, better would be a #10 gallon sized can from something ... maybe beans again. Remove the top, and empty the can. Cut a hole in the side, near the bottom, for the soup can to extend out of. Cut a hole in the removed top of the can, in the center, for the upright 'flu' can to fin into Then put the hobo stove in the big can, so the soup can DOES extend out of it. Fill the space between the outer can and the inner can with 'non-flamable insulating stuff'. Dry sand or earth will do. Once you have filled the space between the inner and outer can to almost the top of the inner can, fit the lid of the outer can on that, to help hold the insulation in place.

If you are using a can smaller than a #10, use a churchkey bottle opener to make air holes around the top of the bigger can. If you are using a #10 can, that probably won't be necessary unless you are going to use a wok or other big pot or pan to cook with. Instead, you might want to cut strips of the lid you removed from it to make a support over the top to support a smaller pot over the flame.

What Rocket Stove Cook Best

Uh, food.

Okay - they excel at boiling water, at stir frying, at frying. All things that take hot heat and not long simmering. For dishes that take long simmering, you combine this with a insulated cooking technique lik a hay box cooker.

When/where To Use Rocket Stove

I use mine in summer, for outdoor cooking. I suppose I could use it in the fireplace in the winter if I had to.

THE site on Rocket Stoves

You can download real instructions, buy one pre-made, and/or watch a video on one being made at http://rocketstoves.org/

Maybe someday I'll post about a Summer Kitchen. Maybe I'll tell you about my experiences hay box cooking tomorrow. Depending on the car situation. Car died while son was driving to college again today. I'm thinking it's a cracked distributor head, but what do *I* know?

Catch you later!

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