The Argand lamp was new to Thomas Jefferson in Paris in 1784, according to him gave off “a light equal to six or eight candles.”
This precursor to the rocket stove gained great popularity in the early 1800’s, due to its ingenious design and multiple uses. The Argand lamp had a sleeve-shaped candle wick to improve the flow of air and steady the flame . The high heat produced made it ideal for both light, cooking and heating, all this without producing much smoke.
Dr. Larry Winiarski, Technical Director of Aprovecho, began conceptualizing the Rocket Stove in the 1980’s. He has devoted his life to promoting clean and efficient household technologies. His legacy will live on through amazing inventions, such as, the Rocket Stove. Its wide scale adoption in developing countries is a testiment to the impact this has had on the world. Hundreds of thousands of stoves have been made using his technology, and this is why…..
Like any good invention, it is simple enough to be recreated with almost anything imaginable. Rocket stoves of all sizes have been created by using recycled materials, like metal cans, buckets and oil drums. They make building a durable rocket stove cheap and affordable.
Then there are the ones who want it free, those of us who want it from the ground up. Local materials found around your house can be used to make a rocket stove. Cob and igneous rock make this stove very easy to construct. This is where we begin to see unique designs, when the builders are free to create with malleable material.
Mixing sand and clay in the right proportions will give you cob. Add in some fibers to sturdy it up. You are now ready to build a stove. It’s as simple as that. You can get stones and metal replacement parts, but in it’s simplicity, it can be made “soily” out of cob.
Light weight ashes may cause intestinal blockage in the larger rocket mass heater models. The silver-lining is that you most likely built your rocket stove yourself and will have no problem maintaining it. The complete combustion attributed to the rocket stove means less particles survive the burn; leaving little left to accumulate, forming the clog.
A rocket stove ensures a good air flow into the fire, achieving efficient combustion of the fuel at a high temperature. The air draft controls the flame and use of fuel. Wood burns slower, some people report using 90% less wood than their previous conventional stove.
Adaptations such as the rocket mass heater have made efficient use of the resultant heat. Incorporating insulation properties, such as cob extensions or water tanks, the radiant heat can be captured and stored. This potential energy is then slowly released back into the room, warming the surrounding environment.
The rocket stove was originally designed for cooking, where a continuous amount of heat is applied to a cooking pot. It’s slow and controlled burn meant you could spend more time cooking and less time managing your fire. All it takes is a few twigs and some birch bark and you’re ready to cook.
Rocket stoves have the capability to be made into a foundry, without any fans or bellows. The flame provides the suction to feed the fire and the complete combustion, supplies the high heat necessary to work metal. This powerful stove allows an accessible path for us to learn blacksmith skills.
Wood in a rocket stove burns differently than in an open camp fire. Not all the wood is ignited and combusting, only a small percentage is engulfed in flames. In some models, like the j tube rocket, wood is continuous fed to the flame by gravity. There are reports of individuals who used to need 4 chords of wood a year, with their old stoves. After making the switch, they reduced their demand for fuel to an annual consumption of 2/3 of one chord.
The full combustion offered in the rocket stove allows for very high temperatures. This intense heat burns up far more partials than conventional stoves, producing less smoke. A mixture of CO2 and water vapor can be seen exiting the exhaust of the rocket stove.
A Case For Fire
New laws in Canada are pushing for less homes with fireplaces. Here in my hometown of Montreal, plans are in place to have wood burning stoves banned by 2020. Making things illegal is an extreme way to prevent fires, Pollution, and over foresting. This stems from a lack of understanding.
The rocket stove is a prime example of a solution to this “problem”. Simple hands on technology, that reduces the risk of fire damage, produces less smoke and requires significantly less wood; all the while teaching the principles of the flame.
It’s application seem as limitless as our imagination. Using thermoelectric effects, Biolite was able to take this knowledge and create a stove that generates power. This electrical stove uses only branches and a flame to run, but once it’s going, it has the energy to power your iphone.
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We are working on educational videos, with step by step instruction, on how to build your very own rocket stove. We will equip you with the knowledge to make a stove any size, anywhere, with various materials. And for those you really want to geek out, we will work with thermoelectric effects to demonstrate it’s potential.
These videos will empower a new generation of skill holders to take the torch from their fore-fathers and carve out a better community for the ones they love. Please support by donating to make this project a huge success.