Living off the grid and homesteading, you are no stranger to wood cutting, wood chopping, and those old wood burning stoves that keep you warm in the winter. We all love those wood burning stoves too, the smell, the heating ability, and there is just a cozy feeling that comes over you when you are sitting in an old wooden chair in a cabin you built your self from the wood off the land while a pot of tea brews over top of that old wood stove as it heats the night away. Us homesteaders love our wood burning stoves no doubt.
But what else is no doubt is that the ole wood stove burns a whole lot of wood in the winter. Here in the Ozarks of Missouri we go through 4 cords of wood in 4 months, that is a cord every 30 days! That is a lot of wood, and we burn oak which lasts for a long time. So thinking, what would be more efficient than that old stove? Well because with the wood stove most of your heat comes from the pipes. Well a whole lot of the pipe has to be outside so that there is a proper draft to carry all the smoke out of the stove. So we lose a lot of heat to the outside. Have you ever heard of a rocket heater?
If you know a bit about cobb houses then you might have seen a rocket stove because in a cobb home this is the most efficient way to heat. With the rocket stove heater all of your heat is kept in the home instead of going out the pipes on the outside and there is no smoke left like on a wood stove where the smoke stack is just billowing smoke. From the exhaust of a rocket stove heater comes C02 and steam. All of the smoke gets re-burned and re-burned in a combustion chamber until there is nothing left but steam and C02.
A rocket stove heater is extremely efficient, in fact it may be the world’s most efficient heating source for off grid living, or any living for that matter. The rocket stove heater is comprised of a place to put some wood, a very small amount is all it takes, a combustion chamber, a small exhaust, the duct work from the chamber through the thermal unit and the thermal unit. Now the thermal unit can be anything that you can run the metal insulated duct work through such as a wrap around bench.
The thermal unit is made of earth (cobb) and the whole stove all but the combustion chamber is made of cobb. Watch the video included with this article to see just how you can make your own rocket stove heater. All you need is an 8 inch stove pipe, a 10 inch stove pipe and a small metal barrel that would fit over the stove pipe as the pipe stands up on its end. Place the 8 inch pipe inside of the 10 inch pipe and fill the gap between the two pipes with cobb.
Now you place the pipe unit on the cobb stove near the wood inlet hole which is just a small hole built into the cobb stove and cover the pipe with more cobb so that it looks as if it is built into the whole cobb stove. Cover the pipe with the small barrel and use more cobb to sill the bottom to the stove so no smoke escapes there. This is the combustion chamber. In the combustion chamber all the smoke and gases are burned and re-burned until there is nothing left.
All the heat is pulled through the duct in the cobb bench which heats the bench up in turn heating the home up! It’s simply amazing. Users of the rocket stove heater say they can burn a hand full of wood and it will last all day in the coldest months. Now that is truly efficient! One couple stated they only used a cord of wood in 4 months, that’s a long shot from a cord every 30 days in the old wood stove. Well there you have it, your summer time project to get ready for the winter. Enjoy the pictures!