How to Build a Rocket Stove
Benjamin Kilbride, Editorial Assistant at The Old Farmer’s Almanac
Build a rocket stove for camping cookouts and home gatherings: It’s a fun weekend project for the family or a group of friends.
What Is a Rocket Stove?
A rocket stove is an insulated and wood-fueled chamber and cooking surface.
How Does a Rocket Stove Work?
Rocket stoves use the flow of air in a tight, insulated combustion chamber to produce a hot and efficient fire. They require no more than a few handfuls of twigs or small sticks to run for about 10 minutes. The name comes from the powerful flames that shoot out of the chimney like a rocket.
Why Build a Rocket Stove?
A rocket stove is a quick and easy project that is fun for kids and adults to build. One can be completed in 30 minutes or less and be ready to cook on right away.
Build the Stove
Construct a six-layer brick rocket stove: The structure will have a hole in the top and a two-layer opening in the bottom (separated by a sheet of wire mesh), and resemble a short chimney stack.
You Will Need:
- 5 firebricks (9x4-1/2x1-1/4 inches)
- 24 standard-size red bricks (8x3-5/8x2-1/4 inches)
- A square of wire mesh (9x9 inches)
- 1 stove grate
- Tools (as needed): chisel, hammer
1. Build a Level Base
On a level patch of ground that is at least 3 feet away from any flammable materials such as trees, shrubs, or buildings, place three firebricks side-by-side (flat, not on edge) on the ground, tight together. Place two more firebricks (short end to short end) on the ground perpendicular to the first three bricks. Push the two firebricks tight up against the first three bricks. The two perpendicular firebricks will stick out slightly on each side, but that’s OK.
2. Break a Brick
Lay one of the red bricks on a hard surface and use the hammer and chisel to break the brick in half so that you are left with two almost-square brick pieces. The break doesn’t have to be perfect.
3. Stack the Bricks
Place one of the half-bricks in the top left corner of the firebrick base, 3/4 of an inch away from the corner’s edges. Create an upside-down “U” by laying the end of a normal-size brick up against the right side of the half-brick and then two more bricks perpendicular to the first two. Lay the square of wire mesh across the top of the stack of bricks. Place the remaining half-brick on the bottom right corner of the stack, on top of the wire mesh. Stack another layer of bricks all the way around the upside-down “U.” For the next layer, balance a brick on the bottom left corner of the stack, half on the corner and half over the open end of the “U.” Stack three more bricks to complete the layer. Stack three more levels of bricks, layering them so that the bricks overlap each other. Once all of the bricks, except one, are stacked, there should be six even layers. Save the final brick for later.
Light a Fire and Cook!
Gather a pile of dry sticks and twigs. Push newspaper and sticks into the space above the wire mesh at the bottom of the structure. Light the newspaper on fire to start the stove, adding more wood as the fire catches. Use the remaining brick to control the flow of air in the stove’s flue: Partially cover the open chambers to reduce the flow of air; partially uncover them to increase the flow.
Place the stove grate over the chimney opening. Set a pot or pan on the grate and cook as you would on a conventional stove. Keep in mind that the rocket stove will burn through fuel quickly, so keep a pile of wood on hand and feed the fire often. Never stand over or look down the “chimney” while the stove is in use.