Rocket stoves are popular right now.
Like any type of camping gear you can spend a few dollars or hundreds. Before you go out and buy a propane gas camp stove and spend a lot, it may be worth it to look into the many options in the world of rocket stoves.
There are a lot of advantages to using a rocket stove for basic cooking and water heating needs. Here are a few things to consider followed by some suggestions for purchasing and the ins and outs of making your own.
Rocket Stoves Are Inexpensive
There are a lot of rocket stoves out there for a lot less than a lot of the propane gas ones. You can also make one in an emergency out of a few large #10 cans if you have to.
Wood= Renewable cooking fuel
With a rocket stove you can generate a lot of cooking heat with just small twigs from wind fall. The small amount of fuel you need makes cooking a lot easier. Water can be boiled in little time at all and with just small pieces of fuel that you don’t have to split or cut down.
Size is up to you
You can make a rocket stove in varying sizes to meet your goals. A lot of people are just looking for a fast and cheap camp stove for throwing together a meal or making coffee but you can also have a rocket stove that is used to heat an outdoor tub or even an entire house.
Weight is definitely an issue when it comes to these stoves. Heavier holds heat better while lighter is more practical for those on the move. In do it yourself stoves, some people choose to use vermiculite for lightweight insulation.
Rocket stoves are great for cooking where campfires are not allowed or during dry periods where fire danger is high.
While plenty of us are probably guilty of having a campfire in areas that say no open fires, the rocket stove would be a better idea and cook your food a lot faster with less fuel.
If you enjoy cooking outside sometimes, but find yourself not doing it as much due to dry conditions, the rocket stove can be a safe alternative.
Safety procedure when making your own
Metal is sharp.
Cutting and shaping metal to make your own rocket stove is not without hazard. A good pair of gloves that offer dexterity is recommended. Loose leather gloves will protect your hands but can make it hard to move your hands the way you need to in order to make precise cuts and construct the stove.
The last thing you want is a major cut during a time when resources and medical care is limited.
Sheet metal is widely available but then you have to fabricate with it. Used metal barrels can be a great resource. In our area you can get a 55 gallon steel barrel that has been used for apple or grape juice for about $10.
Look around for used drum or barrel dealers in your area. You may be able to get a smaller one as well. Just make sure it hasn’t been used to store anything too nasty or toxic in it, especially if your stove is going to be used within a household and food preparation.
Painted barrels can be used but it may take burning a few fires in them to get rid of paint smells and residue.
This is your basic camping rocket stove. It is lightweight and cheap enough for anyone. The three arms provide a stable cooking base. Unlike some stoves this one is low profile enough that stability is not as much of a concern either.
With a 14.2 oz weight and dimensions of 5.3″ x 5.3″ x 3″ when broken down, it is small enough to fit in any pack. If you want a small rocket stove then it would be hard to make one as good as this for the cost.
If you can find a barrel then you can get a kit for making it into a stove. This kit works with 36 or 55 gallon barrels. Unfortunately if you live in Oregon, California, or Washington you are out of luck because they won’t ship kits to there.
You can get grates to put within the stove to help with burning and to make it last longer. These are not intended for residential use. If you need to heat an outbuilding or greenhouse though then they have potential. It would be hard to use this for cooking but I am sure an ingenious person could rig some type of flat iron grate or similar to the top so you could have a cooking surface.
I do like the idea that you could make one of these for under a $100 counting the barrel and stove pipe you would need.
While at 12 lbs this is not a stove for backpacking, it is a super efficient and heavy duty rocket stove that provides remarkable stability and has a convenient cast iron top that can hold very heavy pots and pans with ease.
- Refractory metal liner on ceramic combustion chamber provides outstanding fuel efficiency
- 3-pronged universal cast iron stove top
- Stick support with installation sockets makes it easier to feed. Plenty of campers use these stoves on tables with no issues
- Painted sheet metal body with reinforced doors is attractive and provides protection from the elements
While $100 puts this rocket stove at a higher price point then a lot of the standard backpacking style ones, you are getting a stove that has a lot more in terms of insulation and stability. The firebox is larger so cooking for a family is going to be a lot easier to accomplish on a stove this size compared to the tiny rocket stoves so many of us are used to seeing.
At just 1.1 lbs this is a lightweight yet large capacity rocket stove that can allow you to cook a big meal in little time at all. The stove collapses down flat and is stored in a pouch that is included so it is compact enough to fit in even the smallest packs.
Some customers report using this stove with a 7 quart Lodge Dutch Oven filled up, thus proving this stove can support even 31.5 lbs. This is truly one of those bargain stoves that is worth considering for a bug out bag even due to the light weight nature.
This mid priced rocket stove weighs in at 6 lbs and snaps together for easy assembly. I wanted to highlight this stove because I like how it has so many stability features. You can put a really big pot of food on this stove and not worry about it tipping over.
The stand helps distribute the weight to the ground somewhat. You can also get this stove in three colors if you have concerns about appearance. Customers report that this stove heats up quickly and doesn’t cause a lot of smoke even when using wet wood.
This is like the Swiss Army Knife of rocket stoves. Not only does it heat and cook quickly, it uses fire to create enough energy to power a USB port when you are out on the trail or during an emergency.
For those that love gadgets, this is a fun one. I am not saying I am going to rush out and buy one of these but the concept is interesting. BioLite says you can boil a liter of water in about 4.5 minutes at full burn USB chargeable devices have differing power demands at times so performance will vary.
I expect that there will be some more companies trying for this market soon enough. The accessories in the bundle include a USB ligtht, coffee press/kettle, and a griddle capable of producing 4 burgers or 6 hot dogs at a time. While some preppers may think this is expensive and a lot of bells and whistles, it is hard not to love the versatility.
The price tag however is a bit daunting but like any newer device you can expect that will go down a bit as more companies get on board with this type of technology.
Building Your Own Out Of Cans Or Cheap Stock Pots
You can build a ramshackle style rocket stove with a #10 steel can and two standard soup can. Make sure you are using cans that do not have a plastic liner in them. I have seen plenty of stoves made this way and you really do not want anything plastic for this type of project.
The same method can be used to build a rocket stove out of stock pots. Your local Dollar Store, Wal-Mart, or Amazon will have cheap stainless steel stock pots for making larger rocket stoves.
The basics involve that you mark the larger pot or can so that there is a circle the size of the smaller one close to the bottom. Cut this out with tin snips or similar. Insert the can after using a can opener on the other end so you just have a cylinder.
Personally, I do not think it is worth it to make small ones yourself when they are so cheap to buy. Why risk the cuts and scrapes for something that is not as heavy duty?
The stoves on Amazon for $15-$30 are going to be a lot better then the soup can design. If you have to buy very much at all in the way of supplies it starts being less practical to do your own.
One design I do find intriguing comes from the UK and I actually think this one might be worth doing because it creates a large rocket stove fairly easily. Here is a link on how to make a rocket stove from an old beer keg. For those concerned about how to get one of these old kegs, if you live near a brewery sometimes kegs become old and not functional and they will sell them to you for next to nothing.
You can also just buy a used 5 gallon keg for making a smaller stove. Alternatively you could get a one gallon keg at the grocery store, drink the beer use that. I think Heineken is one of the more common brands that sell these type of kegs. Here is a video detailing the process.
Choosing Your Rocket Stove
Like any piece of survival gear, the type of rocket stove that is best for you is going to vary based on your needs and the price you are willing to pay. It might have sounded like I was really down on DIY rocket stoves but that is only because at the moment you can buy a good one for $15-$30.
Knowing how to build your own in a pinch or show others is no doubt a valuable skill to have. After doing so much DIY stuff over the years building a house with my husband with almost no outside labor beyond what was necessary for code, raising and butchering animals, etc. I have learned to pick my battles based on time constraints and money.
That being said if I was going to pick one stove overall on this list for long term use in place it would be the EcoZoom because it offers a cast iron top and superior insulation properties.
For just backpacking and occasional use then the Kampmate is a lightweight and easy to pack bargain. Don’t get me wrong, the $15 Ohuhu is perfectly adequate for emergency or camping use but the Kampmate is appealing to me because of how it folds down flat and has such a study base design for heavy meals.
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