Amazing All-in-One DIY Rocket Stove {Produces Hot Water/Food and Charcoal}

Tao Charcoal Burner – Made in Thailand :

Amazing All-in-One DIY Rocket Stove {Produces Hot Water/Food and Charcoal}

We carefully triple-box every oven to ensire safe arrival, and we usually ship this just once or twice a week so please note it may take a bit longer than expected to get your oven.

Found in most Thai homes, the “Tao” is a small and convenient way to cook outdoors, and it doesn't make much mess.

Used for generations, this clay oven is now more efficient than ever thanks to a new design which has captured the interest of Thai academics and government officials who are promoting it as a great way to reduce fuel consumption.

Using very little charcoal, this cooker produces enough heat to stir-fry small or large woks, boil water, or barbeque meats. We're importing this from the innovator who is credited with the improved design.

The Tao (say “dtao”) has an empty void at the base, and a section in the middle to hold the charcoal. It lights quickly, the top of the cooker is very hot. The new design has a smaller opening at the bottom. The top is designed to accommodate multiple sizes of pans or pots, and prevents less heat from escaping (older models, shown below, had inefficient large gaps at the top).

Made by hand, a clay insert is set into a metal bucket. Then sandy dirt is pushed between the metal and clay using a special wide tool that resembles a chisel. A 2″ tall base is fastened to the cooker. Finally, concrete is used to seal it all up. The result is a heavy-duty oven that you will enjoy for years. 11″ height, 12.5″ top width, 6.5″ base width. Made in Thailand.

Saveur Magazine recommends this burner.

Also see new Tao Grill below.

“I ordered the tao cooker a couple weeks ago, and love it! So far we've used it for steaks and stir fry, and have also found that it works well for making s'mores as the coals are dying down (you can also warm your hands over it while making s'mores).

It uses much less charcoal than a traditional grill, and it's easy to get the charcoal started without lighter fluid. I just use a bit of paper and some twigs from the yard, then throw the coal on. Overall, a great way to cook and a lot of fun to use.


Andy, Missouri – September 18, 2011

“Really the Tao barbecue! If I were to ever become homeless and had to live the trunk of my vehicle, this would the first item I’d be sure to have. So conservative on charcoal amount and put a great deal of concentrated heat. It’s so ‘old world’ basic, but very well built. Just a pleasure to use (and I’ve used many types). Here are some pics.”

Paul, Laguna Niguel CA

“Hi, Just wanted to say this burner is awesome! Thanks! .”

Chris, New Haven CT

The Tao Oven Is Handmade and May Not Arrive “Perfect”

We've shipped hundreds of Tao to customers across the United States. Every unit is double-boxed and protected with strong cartons and a special packing technique.

The top rim of the cooker has a relatively thin layer of mortar connecting the clay oven with the steel bucket. Despite our best efforts at packing the unit, sometimes it will arrive looking the picture at left.

Small pieces of the mortar may break off and/or show cracking.

If this bothers you, buy a small package of mortar mix from a local hardware store, and apply it to the rim of your oven, this will seal it back up (or just leave it alone, as it won't effect the use of your oven). Don't hold the bucket and tip it upside down.

No two are identical and there will always be some minor flaws.

The clay oven itself is most important, it will withstand years of use. The oven may have minor superficial cracks as well, but this will not effect your oven.

We stand behind the product and will replace any shipment that arrives damaged, but keep in mind it is a handmade oven with some inherent imperfections.

“I just saw your bit regarding cracks in the tao. I ordered one of these last year. When it arrived, I was taken back by how cheaply it seemed to be constructed. After one use the clay liner and the mortar at the top both cracked.

I was pretty disappointed. My feeling at the time was, I would pay at least twice as much for a well constructed burner. Why did the makers seemingly skimp so very much?. I actually considered building my own.

Not being one to complain much, I didn’t write to complain.

Now, after having used it for a year, I can honestly say, this thing rocks. Nothing else, gas burners included evens comes close to working as well with a wok. You need more BTU’s, put a fan in front of the air intake. I would recommend one of these burners to anyone.

The cracks and other flaws have little if any effect on the utility of these burners. I have even come to appreciate the appropriate level of workmanship afford the construction. It gets the job done in a splendid fashion with no overkill. I love it.

Fantastic bargain, in my opinion.”

Chuck, Eugene OR

“Hello to everyone at ImportFood. I received my Tao cooker and street vendor wok this past Saturday, and I'm beyond thankful. I hovered over the tracking information sent to me by Jerry as if I was tracking Santa Claus on radar. I patiently waited for the FedEX guy to show up–and when and he did, I think I may have scared him.

Come to think about it, yeah, I spooked him, because the look of amazement, and possibly shock, as he watched a grown man run up to him with a silly grin on his face, he was quick to put down my package and retreat in his vehicle as if being chased by wild big game.

I scooped up my boxes, tore them open immediately, and I have to say; I was just a kid during Christmas morning.

The Tao cooker was intact. No cracks, no blemishes. Amazing craftsmanship, the wok was packaged just as good and was flawless. I took a bunch of pictures and forwarded them to all my family and friends–they're envious, I just know it.

I want to extend my thanks to everyone involved in this venture. The whole process felt very personalized, which is a great feeling. This is an amazing addition to my kitchen ware and I can't wait to cook for my family and friends.

Thank you again!”

Orlando Candelario, Central Texas

NEW STYLES: Tao Charcoal Burner

We've shipped hundreds of Tao to customers across the United States. Every unit is double-boxed and protected with strong cartons and a special packing technique.

The top rim of the cooker has a relatively thin layer of mortar connecting the clay oven with the steel bucket. Despite our best efforts at packing the unit, sometimes it will arrive looking the picture at left.

Small pieces of the mortar may break off and/or show cracking.

If this bothers you, buy a small package of mortar mix from a local hardware store, and apply it to the rim of your oven, this will seal it back up (or just leave it alone, as it won't effect the use of your oven). Don't hold the bucket and tip it upside down.

No two are identical and there will always be some minor flaws.

The clay oven itself is most important, it will withstand years of use. The oven may have minor superficial cracks as well, but this will not effect your oven.

We stand behind the product and will replace any shipment that arrives damaged, but keep in mind it is a handmade oven with some inherent imperfections.

NEW Grill for Tao Charcoal Burner

We now have a newly-designed grill for the Tao charcoal burner.

Imported from Thailand, comes in a plastic bag with the bold Eagle On Globe logo shown, the size is perfect (covers the top of your Tao just right). The grill opens up and locks shut, 1″ thick middle section, so you can flip your meat by simply turning the grill over.

The grill is 10″ x 10″, the handle is 10″ (total length with handle 20″). Sits 1″ tall.

Add to Cart Grill for Tao Charcoal Burner – $12.00

We used the Tao cooker to season a new wok, requiring very high heat, with excellent results

How to Season Your Wok

Seasoning a steel wok is simple, and very important because it gives your wok an all-natural non-stick coating. Food glides over the surface of a properly seasoned wok without sticking at all. This is a smoky process, so you'll need to have good ventilation or do it outside.

Cleaning. Start by thoroughly cleaning your wok. Our street vendor woks come with a sticker right in the middle of the cooking surface, inconvenient but not difficult to remove. Peel away what you can, then use fingernail polish (acetone). If you don't have any around the house, you can buy a bottle for about $1.

Acetone is an organic solvent, excellent for cleaning your wok the first time. Pour 1-2 tablespoons directly into the wok and swirl it around, then scrub with a paper towel or rag. Thoroughly clean both sides of your wok this way, removing all dirt, oil and residue. Next wash it with soap and water, and wipe dry.

Now you have a bare, perfectly clean steel wok ready to season.

Seasoning. Put a few tablespoons of peanut oil in your wok, and as it heats up, swirl the oil around to coat the entire inside of the wok.

Let the wok get really hot (so the oil smokes), then use a folded paper towel to wipe the oil around the sides of the wok. Hold the paper towel with chopsticks or tongs.

Keep doing this for a few minutes or more, pulling the wok away from the heat occasionally to wipe the oil around. Dump any remaining oil out.

Put a tablespoon or two of oil back into your wok, and add several cloves of garlic. Using garlic and/or shallots is a great way to season your wok. Put it back on the heat, this time tipping your wok so the heat goes directly onto the side of the wok. Keep spreading the oil around, and rotate the wok so the entire inside surface becomes blackened. Throw out the blackened garlic.

With 1/2 cup of oil in a dish, dip folded paper towel into the oil and start seasoning again, over medium/high heat, wiping the insides of the hot wok with oil. You can repeat this half a dozen times.

After 30 minutes or so, the entire inside of the wok is nice and brown/black. This coating is essentially carbon, and is no risk to your health.

Congratulations! You've created a homemade nonstick surface, naturally.

Our Thai Street Vendor Wok sticker says the following in Thai language: 1. For the first use. Roast your wok by turn it over on top of the fire for 10 minutes keep moving until all turn to dark gray evenly. 2. Clean and wipe dry then roast your wok same way above for 20 minutes until the wok color change to dark brown. 3. Clean and wipe dry.

Care. Never scrub your wok with a scouring pad, as it will remove the seasoning. Just use water and a mild sponge after use, and wipe dry.

Restaurant chefs simply pour water into a wok after each dish is prepared, bring the water to a quick boil, wipe the wok with a bamboo brush, dump the water and start the next dish.

If your wok is used infrequently, wipe the dry wok with vegetable oil and this will prevent rust in storage.

Wok Seasoning Tips from Ronald in Holland. Ok, I'll try my best English here. Obviously I didn't buy a wok set from these guys because I live in Holland. Then again I recognized the brand they sell immediately. It's slightly thicker than China wok sets. Go ahead and buy them if your serious about cooking.

By all means you won't regret it. Don't ever think you have a wok burner in your home similar to what street vendors have. That's where the thicker carbon steel is a plus. Fortunately I have a stove with a reasonable large burner but I never lower the heat, instead I take the wok away from the heat for short moments.

(Never touch the controls!)

About seasoning: Use detergent only once with hot water to remove oil residue etc. Flush/rinse and set your gas-burner to the max and leave it this way. Now really burn-in your wok. Making sure the flames hit every corner (if any) on your wok.

Typical colouring should appear (OCC exhaust type) when you think you're done, continue until the steel turns nearly dark, and turn of the heat. Now moisten? (slightly wet) a paper towel with good quality sesame oil or if you're allergic to that, sunflower oil. Rub the inside of your wok with this towel, it should smoke a lot.

That's it you're done. Cleaning: Bamboo brush and hot water, goodbye Mr. Muscle and other crxp!. Enjoy!

Do I need to tell you more. Yes I'm afraid so. Get yourself 3 woks! 1 for sweet and sour dishes. 1 for spicy either meat or fish dishes. Finally 1 for egg/omelet dishes and only for that!. You can use your meat/fish; wok for noodles and or rice recipes just as long as you remember to make it piping hot!

Feature: Flank Steak Crying Tiger and Larb on a Tao Burner

Summertime Thai cooking at it's best. We love the flavor of flank steak, oddly one of the least expensive cuts.

On a 900 lb black angus steer, you'll be lucky to get just two decent flank steaks, yet you can find this rare cut in good butcher shops for a price lower than more common steaks.

Some people say flank is tougher, thus the lower price. We think flank offers the most delicious flavor, and it's a perfect match for spicy Thai food.

Flank is the perfect choice for the Tao Burner. We had fun yesterday cooking two flanks over just a dozen hot briquets. After the meat was cooked we served it two ways: with a simple home-made spicy “Crying Tiger Sauce” and sticky rice, and as Larb.

We love the flavor of flank steak, oddly one of the least expensive cuts.

On a 900 lb black angus steer, you'll be lucky to get just two decent flank steaks, yet you can find this rare cut in good butcher shops for a price lower than more common steaks.

Some people say flank is tougher, thus the lower price. We think flank offers the most delicious flavor, and it's a perfect match for spicy Thai food.

Flank is the perfect choice for the Tao Burner. We had fun cooking two flanks over just a dozen hot briquets.

To get the best flavor, cook your meat over charcoal. Although we flank steak best, there are other cuts that work great such as those with a thick ring of fat. As the fat drips onto your charcoal, you'll hear pops, and see fire rising up (this where the name crying tiger comes from).


rocket mass heater

Amazing All-in-One DIY Rocket Stove {Produces Hot Water/Food and Charcoal}

This could be the cleanest and most sustainable way to heat a conventional home. Some people have reported that they heat their home with nothing more than the dead branches that fall off the trees in their yard. And they burn so clean, that a lot of sneaky people are using them illegally, in cities, without detection.

When somebody first told me about rocket mass heaters, none of it made sense. The fire burns sideways? No smoke? If a conventional wood stove is 75% efficient, doesn't that mean the most wood you could possibly save is something 25%? How do you have a big hole right over the fire and not have the house fill with smoke? I was skeptical.

And then I saw one in action. The fire really does burn sideways. The exhaust is near room temperature – and very clean. The smoke doesn't come back up because a huge amount of air is getting sucked into the wood hole. Neat! I sat on one that had not had a fire in it for 24 hours – it was still hot!

how it works:

The sticks stand straight up. Only the bottom ends of the sticks burn. The fire burns sideways. Since the heat riser is insulated, it gets freaky hot. This causes a strong convective current. When the hot gasses hit the barrel, it gives off a lot of heat, which cools the gasses which get much smaller and easier to push around. The gasses that exit are usually just carbon dioxide and steam.

The real magic happens with the heat riser. The strong convective current is what makes the air get sucked in through the wood feed so that the fire burns sideways and the smoke doesn't come out. It is also the place where it gets so hot that all of the smoke is burned.

Above is a much better image showing the mighty power of the insulated heat riser, reburning the smoke and powering the whole system.

A quick video I made to explain how a rocket mass heater does what it does:

The first picture below represents the most thorough rocket mass heater design I have ever seen. Followed by the rocket mass heater that was created from that design. These are both the products of the leaders in rocket mass heater innovation, Ernie and Erica Wisner, who have built more than 700 rocket mass heaters.

Is a rocket mass heater cleaner than natural gas heat?

How is a rocket mass heater different from a regular wood stove?

Regular wood stoves are 75% efficient now. I think the most you can improve is maybe 10%. How can you make the claim of heating with one tenth the wood? Wouldn't that be claiming to function at 750% efficiency?

Is a rocket mass heater legal?

Can you cook with a rocket mass heater?

How much does it cost to run?

Are there alternatives to the barrel?

What is “cob”?

How many of these have been built?

Wood stoves are smoky. Saying that these have less smoke doesn't say a lot. How much smoke is there, really?

How much does it cost to build one

Can it cause carbon monoxide poisoning?

Will it work with a wooden floor?

Can I hire someone to build it for me?

I've now given presentations and taught people how to make these. The question I am most often asked is: “If my current wood stove is 75% efficient, it seems the most room for improvement is about 25%.

But you say you can heat a home with a tenth of the wood. Isn't that claiming that a rocket mass heater is 750% efficient? Wouldn't 100% efficient be the maximum?” There are two ways to answer this.

  1. Measure the temperature and volume of the smoke leaving a conventional wood stove (very hot and a large volume) and compare that to the exhaust of a rocket mass heater (a little more than room temperature and a trickle). Far more heat stays inside with a rocket mass heater.
  2. Let's do the math.
    • A rating of “75% efficient” does not account for some of the heat that goes up the chimney to remove the smoke. The testing labs will use a number of either 14% or 16% for smoke going up the chimney. So the 75% number is actually 59%. Saying 75% is allowed and sells more wood stoves.
    • The rating of 75% was the most efficient result experienced in a laboratory with experts trying to get the most efficient numbers. So while a wood stove might be able to achieve 75% efficiency in a lab, it rarely does in a home. An experienced wood stove operator will probably experience something more 35%. Somebody using wet/green wood and shutting the dampers down a lot for a “slow burn” will probably experience something more 5% efficiency (or less!) with a 75% efficient wood stove. Thus leaving a lot of room for improvement. Rocket mass heaters have no way to reduce the air flow for a slow, inefficient burn. An inexperienced wood burner will probably have a 90% efficient burn every time.

Another question is about creosote. In a conventional wood stove, under inefficient conditions, creosote can build up in the chimney and start a chimney fire. The “chimney” in the rocket stove is the same thing as the heat riser. The rocket stove is designed to have a controlled chimney fire every burn.

Here is Ernie talking about how replacing a conventional wood stove with a rocket mass heater and how he now uses 1/8 of the wood he used to use:

This 4-DVD set about rocket mass heaters came out September 2016.

Here's the trailer for the new DVD set.

CLICK HERE for more information

If you sign up for the dailyish email right now, you will get the most popular Rocket Mass Heater design plans on the market, The 6″ Annex Variation! Ernie and Erica usually sell these bad boys for 15 dollars but they are sharing this info with you in hopes of building support for their upcoming kickstarter which will bring rocket mass heater knowledge to millions of people!

Click Here To Get Instant Access!

After years of polishing this article, giving presentations and teaching workshops …. Ernie, Erica and I set up a special workshop to mash in everything about rocket mass heaters, rocket stoves, etc. just so that we could video it and put it all into this 4-DVD set.

Trailer for the 4-DVD rocket mass heater set:

Find out more here

When I first learned about rocket mass heaters, I desperately needed to see a video because what I was told was so …. different. There was nothing! So I now have lots of videos so people can see for themselves, the things that seem so new. This is just a few of the videos.

A short video making the rocket mass heater exhaust aspect really clear:

A general tour of 12 rocket mass heaters:

This second video is a day and a half workshop on building rocket mass heaters compressed into ten minutes:

My first attempt at building a rocket mass heater without somebody to guide me. This is an attempt at a semi-portable rocket mass heater. Plus a nice burn demo.

The latest from Ernie and Erica – complete with some innovations. This video focuses on how efficient a wood burning stove can be.

If these rocket stoves are of interest of you, the smartest next step is probably to get a set of plans that closely resembles what you are thinking of designing. These plans are proven designs that Ernie and Erica Wisner, the leading rocket stove innovators, have developed and tested.

6 Inch Rocket Mass Heater Plans

These have been the all time most popular plans up to date.They are for an L-shaped heated bench. The '6' refers to diameter of heat-exchange ducting. This design provided the sole heat for an older Portland cottage/apartment of about 800 sf.

Click here for more details!

These plans are for a duct-heated, small heater that warms an 11 x 11 (120 sf) guest cottage in Portland, OR. A bypass from manifold to chimney allows priming the heater more easily for cold starts. Instead of a bench, the mass makes up a platform for a bed!

Click here for more details!

8 Inch Rocket Mass Heater Plans

With this combo you get huge savings in the ol' money column by getting ALL of the plans above PLUS chapter 4 of Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide PLUS The Art of Fire PLUS Simple Shelter ideas

PLUS Double-Chamber Earthen Oven plans

Click here for more details!

Quick! For the next week you can get 17 podcasts about rocket mass heaters for FREE! Click here to get 'em!

image: batch box innovation built at the rocket mass heater innovator's event, discussed in 3 podcasts in the gob

Several people have been able to scrounge parts over several months so that the construction cost ends up near zero. Here are some of the materials you might want to look for, complete with links to be able to purchase them in case you cannot find them otherwise:

Here is another rocket mass heater workshop. This one is building the rocket mass heater into a greenhouse

Discussion thread at permies: greenhouse with a rocket mass heater

And this one shows the rocket mass heater barrel prep. Complete with an excellent demonstration of the rockety stuff – check out that smoke reburn!

Here is Ernie's conventional wood stove / rocket mass heater hybrid, which gives a lot of info on how a rocket mass heater can heat a space with 90% less wood than a conventional wood stove:

This is my grand video on my portable rocket mass heater.

This features four huge innovations: a wood frame aesthetic (a bit rough, but the trail is now blazed for better wood workers); portable (can be taken apart and put on truck in less than an hour; can be taken off of a truck and built in a little over an hour); a heat riser that goes all the way to the ground instead of sitting on bricks; the thermal mass is a collection of pea gravel and river rock (that allows air to pass through) instead of cob. This video has a lot of details of construction.

Finally – a comprehensive book about rocket mass heaters! This should put an end to the freak shows of flaming death showing up on mislabeled as rocket mass heaters – and put an end to getting the same questions asked over and over again. We can start every answer with,

“Have you read The Rocket Mass Heater Builder's Guide?”

This is a delicious book to read and understand HOW rocket mass heaters work and WHY rocket mass heaters work so well. Ianto is the inventor of rocket mass heaters, and he does an excellent job of telling the story.

As I was designing my portable rocket mass heater innovations, I called Ernie and Erica several times. After all, they know far more than I do.

After the great Earth Day success I recorded a podcast with them. Not only to have a podcast loaded with rocket mass heater / rocket stove info, but to gloat a bit about the success of my innovation.

This was my very first podcast about rocket mass heaters!

    podcast 019 – rocket mass heaters

Since then, I have recorded over a dozen podcasts about rocket mass heaters and you can get them in a giant bundle here:

    Click here to get 17 podcasts about rocket mass heaters!

underfloor heating and hot water with a rocket mass heater:

portable rocket mass heaters:

underfloor heating with a rocket mass heater – plus an exhaust bypass:

the original rocket stove and butt warmer thread at permies

pretty rocket mass heaters:

rocket stove water heaters:

rocket mass heater in a tipi:

rocket mass heater innovators event 2014:

Come on out to the rocket stoves forum to talk about rocket mass heaters, wood heat, heating water, and gobs more stuff.

The good artwork here is done by Daniel Van Tassell although Daniel insists that I credit Adriana Stagnaro for a collaborative effort in the permies forums.



Amazing All-in-One DIY Rocket Stove {Produces Hot Water/Food and Charcoal}

Q — I have a wood burning stove. If I stack if full at night and close back the damper all the way, the fire usually lasts until morning. But sometimes if it's warm and foggy, the fire goes out and I'm left with big chunks of charcoal in the morning. I was wondering if this charcoal is safe to use in my stove? J.T., Palmerton.

A — Wood stoves are designed to burn wood efficiently, but if drafted properly, some models are also designed to burn coal. Coal is a marvelous fuel in that it takes less room to store for the same amount of BTUs, its emissions take smaller chimneys and its ability to produce more heat than wood is well known.

What your wood stove has produced by starving the wood fire of oxygen is coal, actually charcoal.

Yes, the charcoal will work in your wood stove as long as it is drafted properly, but remember that it will burn twice as hot as the wood and with too much draft it could overheat some internal metal surfaces.

It might be a better idea to save the charcoal chunks and use them this summer in your backyard charcoal grill.

Here in the Lehigh Valley, to many of our forefathers, mined coal was entirely unknown. To others, it was only a name. The majority of them knew “coal” as a homemade affair made by burning and charring wood in a homemade coal pit.

According to an old blacksmith friend of mine living near Topton, it was common knowledge that homemade coal made a hotter fire than that which was dug from the ground.

Therefore, homesteads burned wood on the hearth or in stoves, and the charcoal was used in the shop forges where greater heat was needed for blacksmithing.

Mined coal from the North came in time, but while it was considered a convenience by some blacksmiths, many preferred their own hotter charcoal, which also “didn't bother the lungs so much!” Thus, when our grandfathers spoke of “coal,” they meant the kind which grew in their coal-pits where their felled trees had been stacked after deadening by girdling, and buried in sod where it was left to smudge and char for a few days.

As people from the city move out to the country, they often find curious-looking bomb-craters hidden back in their woodlots. These saucer-shaped depressions range from 10 to 50 feet across, with the average around 20 feet.

Here at the homestead, my kids are used to walking the “charcoal trail,” which is nothing more than a deer path past a bunch of these old charcoal pits here on South Mountain.

If one scratches around, it is possible to find chards of the once-precious “coal.”

Actually, home hardwood charcoal-making was done at this time of the year when the normal field and barn chores were at a slow time and when the leaves and sap were the trees. A homesteader still can make a half-decade's supply of charcoal rather easily if the wood and time is available. The process is simple.

The main ingredients for charcoal are logs and dirt. Regardless of the size of the pile of wood, the underlying principle in the process is limiting the supply of air so the more volatile ingredients of the wood burn away, leaving only the carbon behind.

The following is an excerpt from a diary titled “Candle Days,” published in 1850, from George Mayo: “When I was a boy going to No. 8 school, it used to stand up in Eb's pasture, I always loved to slip away after school and go up on Messer Hill and watch Harvey Taylor the blacksmith at his coal pit, when that time came around.

He went up once a year and took his food along and cover to sleep under and didn't come down until the fire was out. You see, charcoal made a hotter fire than wood, and the fire on his forge had to be hot.

First of all, Harvey would dig away a lot of sod, then he'd set the wood up on end an Indian's teepee, with a hole in the center for the draft; short pieces there were at first, only two or three feet, but getting longer for the outside of the stack as it grew bigger.

When the stack was done, it was high as Harvey himself and about 12 feet across the base. Then he built his fire right under the little stack in the middle and it would smolder for three or four days. With the sod he had dug up first, he would cover the whole stack; and this and the earth he used kept the fire from breaking out into a blaze.

Port old fellow, he got almighty tired of watching that fire before those days were done with, for he had to watch night and day that the air didn't get through the covering and send his whole stack up in flames. The slow heat charred the whole stack, you see.

I forgot to say that right in front, he left a little opening to see through so he could watch the fire. It was that hole that I d to peek into. No, the wood did not have to be very big, even those pieces on the outside were not a foot through. Some made their pits long and narrow and boarded up the sides, but Harvey didn't, and I d his good old way the best.”

Since charcoal didn't burn with a flame or smoke, it was once useful for heating rooms the bathroom that had no chimney, but today we realize that if improperly vented, it can cause suffocation.

Other uses for charcoal were in brass samovars for heating tea water or in clothing-polishing irons. Add to the old list modern uses aquarium filters, smoke filters and backyard barbecues, and one can quickly see that this old-time use for wood is still with us . . .

and maybe even a good excuse to cut back the damper on the wood stove!


GIVEAWAY! EcoZoom :: A Clean Burning Wood and Charcoal Portable Rocket Stove

Amazing All-in-One DIY Rocket Stove {Produces Hot Water/Food and Charcoal}

“EcoZoom rocket stoves efficiently burn wood, charcoal, or solid biomass as fuel while significantly reducing smoke output.

As a result, less natural resources are needed for fuel and less dangerous smoke is inhaled by cooks.

In the United States and Europe, EcoZoom rocket stoves are perfect for emergency preparedness, camping, and off-grid living.”

When I was first contacted by Tom from EcoZoom about a stove review and giveaway, I considered it a blessing!

As a family, we make every effort to position ourselves toward sustainability. That includes emergency preparedness/survival measures.

Fire Water.


Living in the Sonoran Desert, we very frequently enjoy baking and dehydrating in our solar-powered Sun Oven. Yet, one area we struggle in is fire — there’s little fuel to maintain an open fire for cooking. Sure, we have a few Palo Verde and mesquite trees but they are few and far between.

Limited fuel.
This was a real concern for us.

How things have changed!

Now that we have our EcoZoom we use it often! Not necessity, but because it’s super easy and fun! And the best part, we don’t have to worry about the fire/fuel piece to our emergency preparedness plan anymore.

We’re totally covered with EcoZoom!

The Zoom Versa

EcoZoom offers several different products to meet the functional and financial needs of everyone!

We received the Zoom Versa — EcoZoom’s most versatile and popular rocket stove.

Here’s how EcoZoom describes this product:

EcoZoom’s Versa Stove can burn wood, charcoal, or dried biomass and is our most versatile cook stove. The Versa is a great option for those wanting cook fuel options while still providing the same EcoZoom durability.

The Versa is our most popular emergency preparedness model in the United States and is also great for camping.

The Zoom Versa features an abrasion resistant and durable ceramic combustion chamber with a 10 cm in diameter vertical section that forces the gases to mix with the flame, decreasing harmful emissions and adds a refractory metal liner to the inside of the combustion chamber that protects the ceramic insulation, increases the life of your stove, and improves combustion efficiency.

This stove features our new hinged combustion chamber doors enabling for an effortless conversion from wood to charcoal fuels. Both the main combustion chamber door and the damper door (bottom door) have reinforced metal frames and have hinges that serve to securely close the doors and regulate airflow.

The Zoom Versa also has a durable, reformulated 6-pronged cast iron stovetop that improves heat transfer for all pots including round bottom pots and woks.

Pros :: The Zoom Versa:

  • is designed to burn biomass (twigs, leaves, branches and organic materials) as well as charcoal…all that is needed to get things going is a lighter, a pocket fire-starter, or waterproof/windproof matches (these are the ones we keep in our emergency supplies kit)
  • reduces fuel needed by 60%
  • emits 70% less smoke and emissions than a three stone fire
  • stays cool to the touch while in use, reducing burns and preventing injury
  • brings 5L of water to boil in approx. 20 minutes
  • comes with an adjustable pot skirt which wraps around your pot to hold in the heat for FAST, hot cooking

Cons :: The Zoom Versa:

None that we could find in function. However, if you’re looking for something to keep in a bug-out-bag…this isn’t your stove. Because it weighs 26.75 pounds, it just wouldn’t work. You’ll want to keep this stove at your bug-out location or ready to use for bugging-in.

The Zoom Versa is perfect for peace of mind in case of grid-off situation, camping/hunting trips, backyard adventures, and even tailgating. Note: Its convenient carrying handles make transporting the stove a breeze.

Cooking With EcoZoom

The following materials that make for safe cookware on EcoZoom stoves include:

  • stainless steel
  • cast iron
  • enamel coated cast iron or steel
  • titanium

These are specifically a few of the pots, saucepans, Dutch ovens, and griddles we have used with our stove:

We’ve used the Zoom Versa to cook meals from our food storage, soups, rice, steak, vegetables…you name it! It cooks it all with ease!

I just LOVE this thing!

Note: While gloves are not a necessity for cooking with EcoZoom, I highly recommend these in particular when cast iron is your cookware of choice.

For the ULTIMATE in emergency preparedness…we have also included the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter and
Survive2thrive’s 100% USDA Organic 40-day Nutrition Emergency Food Supply in our family’s survival kit.

Check out this great video on cooking with EcoZoom:

How To Enter the Giveaway!

Needless to say…I am absolutely thrilled that EcoZoom has offered YOU a chance to win an EcoZoom Zoom Versa of your own (a $129 value)!

It’s super easy to enter the giveaway.

Simply follow the three steps below:

1. Click on the following link:

EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove

(Doing so will redirect you to read more about the product. After that just head back this way and complete the last two steps.)

2. Click this link to subscribe and get Frugally Sustainable tips delivered to your email fresh off the press! *In order to be eligible to win you must be subscribed at the time the winner is drawn.

3. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter the giveaway. *The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.

Good luck everyone!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The fundamentals of Rocket Stoves

Amazing All-in-One DIY Rocket Stove {Produces Hot Water/Food and Charcoal}

Rocket stove combustion systems deserve attention for a few reasons:

  1. they offer close to complete combustion of the wood, meaning they are hyper-efficient and burn super-clean
  2. they can reach very high temperatures, and can be hooked up to almost anything we want to use that heat for
  3. they can use wood typically considered too small to call firewood
  4. they are easily built from common materials.

That’s right – you can build these systems in a day or two, and then watch them turn twigs into heat far more efficiently than most wood stoves, with far less set-up cost. If you are good at scavenging bits they can cost virtually nothing to build, and when you prune your fruit trees you can get the fuel you need to cook dinner, heat your home, and enjoy a nice hot shower.


The main difference between a normal fireplace or woodstove and a rocket stove is that rocket combustion is close to complete. When wood is burned it releases volatile compounds that we recognise as smoke or soot or creosote.

In a rocket stove these compounds are sucked into the insulated and very hot ‘burn tunnel’ of the unit where they combust, releasing even more heat energy to drive the rocket process, un a normal fire where they are blown out the chimney.

This distinctive sucking of the flames down into the burn tunnel, and the resultant ‘roar’ is what gives rocket stoves their name. This is also a part of their magic. Rocket stoves are open where the wood is fed in, allowing lots of oxygen to be drawn into the unit.

As the fire starts, and the burn tunnel heats up, the rising hot air races up the heat riser, drawing lots of air behind it. This incoming air flows into the feed tube and across the burning wood – creating the same effect as pointing a big air-blower at your fire.

It gets really hot, the wood burns beautifully, and you hear the air roaring as it charges through the system.

In conventional wood stoves the air intake is small, and adjustable to even smaller. This lack of oxygen chokes the combustion, leading to cool burns, incomplete combustion and lots of smoke and creosote.

When combustion is complete, what comes out the chimney is pretty much only carbon dioxide, meaning no smoke: smoke means incomplete combustion, unburned fuel, or wasted energy.

We are culturally trained to associate smoke with fire; but with rocket stoves, sometimes when there is no smoke, there is still fire!

Having ensured complete combustion, and hence maximum heat generation, only then do we think about using the resultant heat.

 Conventional wood stoves are sucking heat away from the combustion chamber for cooking, space heating or with ‘wet back’ water heaters, meaning the unit just can’t get hot enough for combustion to be complete, resulting in smoke.

The combustion chamber of the rocket stove is heavily insulated to prevent premature heat loss, and an enormous amount of heat is generated by the efficient combustion process.

The drum style rocket stove is not only functional, it’s beautiful


When combustion is complete, we can extract heat from the stove at the top of the heat riser. And here is where your imagination and inner inventor can run wild: anything you can think to do with very hot air can be done from this point.

Here are a few things that can be powered with a rocket stove.

  • Oven – either a converted conventional oven with the rocket under it, or a purpose built barrel oven from old ‘44 gallon’ (around 200 litre) drums.
  • Cooktop or BBQ – old cast iron BBQ plates can work well, or heavy copper radiator plates to put pots and pans on, or just cook over the stream of hot air.
  • Hot-water systems –we’ve made various systems, from ones that heat a big-vented tank of water with a copper coil running through it, to heat exchanger thermosiphon units boosting solar hot water.
  • Space heaters – often seen with an inverted ‘44 gallon’ drum being the main radiator, with the flue running through heavy earth or stone elements (rocket mass-heaters).

Temperatures are off the chart

Take care! A well-built rocket stove can work so well it can be dangerous.

Dan’s rocket oven once got to 180 °C in six minutes, 230 °C in seven minutes, and 325 °C in thirteen minutes! As for Joel’s latest rocket oven, on his first test run the whole inner skin of the feed tube was glowing red, as was the bottom of the inside of the oven: the thermometer read 350 °C, and the roast vegies were pretty charred (he has since tamed it down to 200 °C).

While quite popular in some parts of the world, rocket stoves are a relatively rare sight in Australian permaculture systems. They are an excellent example of an appropriate technology alternative to conventional means of heating food, water or space; and they are well worth finding out more about.

The Rocket Powered Oven: how to build your own super-efficient cooker by Tim Barker and Illustrated Joel Meadows is now available as an eBook from our online store

The eBook includes instructions for a rocket conversion of a conventional oven – keep you eye peeled for appropriate technology workshops with VEG here.