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It’s not rocket science.
They may sound high-tech, but rocket stoves (named for the way air moves through them) are anything but.
Designed to increase fuel efficiency without increasing harmful emissions, rocket stoves are helping people become more self-sufficient, slowing climate change, and saving lives in developing countries where fuel wood is scarce and traditional open fires are polluting indoor air.
They are ideal not just because for their social and environmental benefits, but also for economic reasons: they’re cheap and easy to build, and they require very little fuel. So whether you’re looking to save money, build an affordable, portable and efficient camping stove, or just have a backup in case of emergencies, a rocket stove is a winner.
The rocket stove is a wood-burning outdoor cooking stove that was developed by Dr Larry Winiarski in the 1980s . Its as a safe, effective, environmentally conscious alternative to open fires for impoverished people in developing countries.
Compared with traditional open fires, rocket stoves can be healthier and more efficient. They reduce smoke and harmful emissions, use less fuel, and increase the amount of energy from the wood that is turned into heat energy.
How does a rocket stove work?
In open fires that are not carefully maintained, only a small percentage of the heat energy released from the burning wood makes it into the cooking pot. With a rocket stove, only the tips of the fuel wood are burned, eliminating that waste (and also eliminating smoke).
Fresh air enters the fuel chamber from beneath the burning wood resting on the grate, allowing the air to be preheated before it enters the combustion chamber, which in turn leads to cleaner combustion.
The small fuel entry not only demands less fuel wood, but also limits the amount of cold air that can get in.
The combustion itself is confined to a small, insulated space, so most of the energy in the wood is converted to heat for cooking.
The cook pot sits directly on top of the combustion chamber, so the hot gases contact it immediately after combustion, reducing smoke.
Want a rocket stove but aren’t keen on building one yourself? Don’t worry; they can be purchased. Larger, more sophisticated versions can even be used to heat a home.
If you do build your own, be sure to test it before using it for cooking by boiling a pot of water first.