How can I make a rocket stove that reduces smoke

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This is one example of a stove that is easy to make. You may need to adapt it for the fuel you use and the materials available in your area.

You will need:

  • a large (5 gallon) can, such as a cooking oil can, soy sauce can, large paint can (well-cleaned), or a can that medical supplies were packed in. This will be the body of the stove. Cinderblocks or bricks may also be used, but a large can is better because it is thin and does not absorb as much heat.
  • a 4-inch wide metal stove pipe with a 90-degree bend (elbow) in it. The pipe on one side of the elbow should be longer than the pipe on the other side. You will also need a straight stove pipe to attach to the short end of the elbow.These pipes will be used to create the burning chamber and chimney for your stove. (4 or 5 tin cans with their tops and bottoms cut out can be used instead of stove pipes.)
  • insulation such as wood ash, pumice rock, vermiculite, dead coral, or aluminum foil.
  • tin snips and a can opener for cutting the metal.
  • extra metal for creating a ‘skirt’ around the pot.
  • grating or thick fencing for the top of the stove, where the pot rests for cooking.

How to make the stove:

Use the can opener or tin snips to take the lid off the big can. Cut a 4-inch round hole in the middle of the lid for the chimney. Cut another 4-inch round hole in the lower front side of the can, about 1 inch up from the bottom of the can, for the burning chamber. The holes you cut should fit around your stove pipe or tin cans.

Place the stove pipe with the elbow inside the can so that one end sticks out of the front of the can. Make 2 parallel cuts ½ inch apart at the long end of the pipe and bend the section back to create a lip. This way the pipe will not slip back into the can. The long section of this pipe will be the burning chamber (where the fuel burns). Attach a straight section of pipe to the short end of the elbow to make a chimney that ends 1 inch below the top of the can. Make a lip on this pipe, too, so the top of the pipe will not fall into the can.

Note: A chimney made from tin cans will only last 1 to 3 months, and then you will need to replace it. To prevent this, try making a fired clay chimney with a mixture of 3 parts sand and 2 parts clay. Put this clay around the chimney of tin cans. When the cans burn through, you will have a clay chimney supported by all the insulation packed around it.

Fill the body of the stove, around the chimney, with insulation such as wood ash.

Replace the can lid over the insulation and around the chimney.

Use a tin can to make a shelf inside the burning chamber. Remove the ends of the can and flatten it. Then cut it into a T shape that will fit inside the pipe. The top of the T will stick out and keep the shelf from slipping inside. Place a brick or rock under the outside part of the shelf to support the twigs while they are burning.

Use your grating or fencing for resting the pot on the top of the stove.

Make a skirt with extra metal. It should surround the pot, leaving a ¼ inch gap between the skirt and the pot at its base. For an even better skirt, make a double skirt and put insulation between the 2 sheets of metal.

If you need to cook inside, place the stove near a wall with an opening in it. The smoke can climb along the wall and leave the building.

  • Burns, A. A., Niemann, S., Lovich, R., Maxwell, J., & Shapiro, K. (2014). Where women have no doctor: A health guide for women. Hesperian Foundation.
  • Audiopedia ID: en030106