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How To Make A Rocket Stove From A BBQ Charcoal Chimney Starter

Avatar for Samantha Biggers Samantha Biggers  |  Updated: March 11, 2020
How To Make A Rocket Stove From A BBQ Charcoal Chimney Starter

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Matt has some brilliant ideas and this one definitely qualifies. We were perusing the aisles on our big monthly grocery store shopping extravaganza when he saw a BBQ Charcoal starter and got the idea that it could be made into an inexpensive rocket stove with just a few modifications.

Ours is painted black and just what was available at our local Ingles. You can get this style of charcoal starter in unpainted aluminum or aluminized steel for a decent price. I will provide some links later on in the post. Most are in the $14-$25 range online.

Very few tools were used to convert the charcoal starter to a rocket stove. Besides the tin snips and Leatherman showed, only a screwdriver was used.

The top needed to be cut in order to provide some ventilation while still providing a sturdy burner base for a cooking pot.

The Leatherman was used to bend the cut tabs down as seen in the picture below.

The edges of the metal are a bit sharp. If this is a concern you can use sandpaper or a Dremel to make the edges smoother.

A screwdriver was used to punch through the metal to allow a place to get the tin snips started to create the hole necessary for a firebox.

The driveway in front of our house is about the most level place but for the safe of safety when cooking, I put a few rocks around the base. Rocket stoves with a big pot or a tall pot on them can be top-heavy and prone to toppling. This is important to remember if you are just learning how to use one.

The Mr. BBQ Charcoal Starter we bought has a wood handle. Many of the other brands I looked at online have a heat resistant plastic handle.

As you can see from the picture above, the black paint on this brand of charcoal starter smoked, bubbled, and burned off. It smelled a little when this happened but the smell went away some overtime. I expect that after a few uses it will not be at all noticeable. Of course, if you get an unpainted one, you won’t have to deal with that part.

So what did we cook?

We had some freezer-burned meat to cook up for tasty additions to our dog food so we put a few pounds in the pot with cold water. It started to cook fast. I would say that this homemade rocket stove works just as good as ones that cost substantially more.

It is really lightweight and it was very easy to get a fire going and keep it going with very little fuel. I just used the little twigs, sticks, and dry leaves and grass that I could find laying within an 8-foot radius of the stove.

Other BBQ Starters For Rocket Stoves

I found a lot of options on Amazon. Here are a few BBQ starters to consider for your rocket stove project. If you use any of these, be sure to come back to this post and comment on your experience!

Weber 7447 Compact Rapidfire Chimney Starter

amazon product

Weber calls this charcoal starter a compact model so if you want a smaller rocket stove, this model is an option.

Kingsford Grilling Deluxe BBQ Chimney Starter For Charcoal Grill, Silver

amazon product

The Kingsford starter is basically a metal and plastic handled version of the starter we purchased for our rocket stove. It is similarly priced as well.

Have you repurposed anything to make a rocket stove? What worked well and what did not?

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5 Responses to “How To Make A Rocket Stove From A BBQ Charcoal Chimney Starter”

  1. My mother taught us how to make rocket stoves when she was my sisters and my Girl Scout Leader in the 70s , but we used coffee cans. It’s so hard to find metal coffee cans these days…Hills Brothers are the only ones I can think of that make them. I like the idea of using the charcoal starters because of the handles!! No burnt hands when you’re done.

  2. Like “Old Guy” I used a metal paint can (a used one). Metal paint cans are now a rare breed. I also used a couple of soup cans for the chimney and a smaller one to enter the paint can sideways near the bottom for feeding twigs. I also packed the area between the paint can and the soup cans with wet clay from a stream bed and allowed it to set up before firing it up.

    My first meal was bacon and eggs for breakfast using a small cast iron pan.

    I left my creation outside for a couple of seasons and the bottom has since rusted out. The clay got recycled into the ground.

    If I had to do it over, I’d use a concrete mix instead of clay…that way, if/when it rusts out again, I’d still have a more-or-less intact stove (I think)…or maybe not.

    I’d probably resort to making a Dakota fire pit if I really needed an outdoor cooker and I was ‘on the move’ simply because a rocket stove is just ‘one more thing to carry’.

  3. I really like your site and all the great info but, it seems anymore that there are so many adds that it takes forever to read through one article. It just might be my old computer but it also seems to be getting a lot worse. I also know you need the adds to produce this site.

  4. I used a 1 gal (new) paint can for a double-wall rocket stove, outside 2 used large soupcans that I fashioned into an “L” shape for the inner feed tube and upright burner. I used a nibbler to make a tight hole in the vertical can (chimney) to receive the horizontal can that acted as a feed tray for the wood scraps. A small piece of hardware cloth is a grate to allow air to circulate under the twigs I am feeding in.
    A hole nibbled in the paint can wall about 1″ up to set the feed tray can i(that is now connected to the inner burner can/chimney) into. Pink insulation packed into paint can bottom for stability, and packed around the inner sides to keep the burner can centered and insulated and a little bent sheet metal as an actual chimney through the removable paint can lid. I had some sturdy expanded metal mesh to fashion a removable contraption that acts as a grate for a pan or pot to sit on – on top. I suppose that maybe doubled hardware cloth might do the same job for a gizmo that holds the pot up and steady. Maybe cost me a couple $$ for the paint can and lid and all else was scraps.

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