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Xist 04-22-2018 04:20 PM

Did I make a rocket stove or a backyard foundry?
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I have seen many different definitions of rocket stoves, but the features that all have had in common are:

1. Dedicated intake
2. Dedicated exhaust
3. Insulation

You feed sticks into the top half of the hole you see. Air comes through there and through the bottom half. There is an equally-sized vertical tube. The sticks burn in the elbow and the heat and smoke go up. This has more airflow than normal fires and between that and the insulation, it is supposed to burn more efficiently.

Except this does not have insulation.

I cleaned out a cupboard and found buggy oatmeal. Mom does not want insects in her compost pile, so I wondered what kind of charcoal it would make. The King of Random made charcoal by putting sticks, paint sticks, and a few different wood-like objects in a paint can with small holes in the lid and setting that on a campfire until the smoke pleased him.

He used three quart paint cans. Those are $3 at Home Depot. I bought one one-gallon can for $5 and built a fire in this garbage can before I cut the hole. It created a huge amount of smoke and when I was bored of tending the fire only the top layer of the buggy oats were black.

I fanned the flames with a pizza box just to keep the smoke away from me, but it definitely made the fire bigger. Smaller cans would have had a larger surface area, so you could argue that is more efficient, but I like one gallon for $5 instead of four quarts for $12.

Does it take at least 140% more time and fuel to do it my way?

First I drilled holes through adjacent corners on the large brick on top of the pile of bricks, but every time I tried to start a fire inside, the match went out.

Then I tried normal bricks, but that did not work without mortar. There is a 1/16th" gap in between the bricks, and they are not insulated, either.

The King of Random claimed he bought ten fire bricks for $33. Not fake fire bricks that Home Depot, Lowe's, and Amazon sell six for $33, but real ones. I cannot find those in the White Mountains or even the Phoenix area. The cheapest ones I found were ten dollars each.

Shipping bricks is cost-prohibitive.

So, I decided to follow TKoR's backyard foundry design to make a rocket stove. You can make one for under $20 if you only count the sand and plaster of Paris.

Not the metal bucket, two plastic buckets, hole saw, or the other materials that add up to $135 if you use his Amazon links.

He also did not include the U-bolts he uses for handles on the donut lid or the arbor or mandrel for the hole saw.

Instead of forming it around a plastic bucket I used an small empty oatmeal tub. Instead of drilling out the side I used another empty oatmeal tub. I printed off sine wave patterns, cut the ends to fit, and taped them together. That was too short, do I did it again with leftover poster board and taped that around the tubs.

I felt concerned the mix would crush the cardboard, so I filled it with a can of Great Stuff that looked at me wrong.

I removed the dried foam with a crowbar and the stove worked well enough, but thus far a rather uninspiring thing. If it were not so heavy I would throw it in the garbage and move on with my life.

jamesqf 04-23-2018 01:17 AM

You paid money for an empty paint can?

redpoint5 04-23-2018 02:48 AM

Tell Mom there are already bugs in the compost. Always fun to play with fire though.

Xist 04-23-2018 04:44 AM

That is all that you understood? Do you generally heat up used paint cans hundreds of degrees?

Hey, some people are picky about bugs. Do you want compost bugs in your house?

samwichse 04-23-2018 01:47 PM

I prefer this guy's stove:

Side note: don't fall down the rabbit hole of watching all that guy's videos. Even if many of them are absolutely mesmerizing to watch...

Ecky 04-23-2018 01:54 PM

I went down that rabbit hole a few months back. Turns out the same building materials you might use in a desert environment don't work in the northeast.

Xist 04-23-2018 02:01 PM

Someone on here mentioned that he was smelting iron from river bacteria. That was impressive until I realized how little iron he was getting.

Xist 09-19-2020 05:55 PM

I still want a rocket stove!
1 Attachment(s)
I think that I have mentioned in two different threads that my sister announced that she was driving up today to camp in the backyard with her kids. I was excited to see them for the first time since Xistday in March when we met in a parking lot in Payson and shouted at each other.

I thought about how to fix up my office as a cabin and to make a fire pit, wondering what else would make a nice touch for campers.

Of course, Mom told my sister that I poisoned the lawn, so my sister canceled the trip. Allegedly they are coming up next weekend, but I will believe that when I see them.

I may hug them, too.

Not my sister. What has she ever done for me?!

I am not making a big fire pit with our available space, but a big rocket stove could easily replace the abomination pictured previously.

How hard is it to make a fire pit? You just build a circle of bricks or rocks, ideally with more bricks or rocks on the bottom.

I don't see why you couldn't leave a dirt bottom, but nobody does.

I wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing anything and I picked up some things:
  1. You want to line it with fire bricks because normal bricks won't last.
  2. You want a designated intake to make the smoke flow up, not in your face.
  3. Tractor Supply sells fire bricks! :)
I referred to real fire bricks and fake ones. I believe that one is light and reflects heat while the other is heavy [bricks are heavy?!] and simply withstands high heat. I am unsure which these are. Six or 10 for $33?


The reviews just have useful stuff like "They are fire bricks, bricks I say, and can take a fire."

Like I wrote, useful.

They are 4.5 x 9 x 1.25. If I put two on the bottom, eight on the sides, and cut one in quarters for the corners, I could line this with 11 for $41.69 before tax.

One plan called for cutting bricks in half and using those for vents, so I guess that I will have a remainder.

Weird. I do not see the bricks that I have at Lowe's or Home Depot. They have to match! :)

Fun. The first one that it shows is 51, but says "3 in stock at nearby store
Apache Junction, 107.4 miles away."

I am not driving 214.8 miles for $1.53 in bricks!

Well, I am confident that they have bricks, and they are "4 x 8."

The old ones are 4"x8" and the new ones are 3.75 x 7.75.

I don't know what to do about the 1.25" gap besides make my own bricks. Bags of concrete are cheap and there are actually a few in the back of the shed, but I would only use 10% of one!

I think that it is curious that concrete molds are usually wood and plywood. Doesn't the wood pull moisture from the concrete?

I guess that is why you keep it moist. However, people make countertop molds out of melamine. I am sure that wood and plywood is fine, but I was thinking of transporting 4x8 sheets of not-plywood. I am sure that if you strap down plywood hard enough you will compress it, but not nearly as much as the not-plywood! :)

  1. Fire bricks x 9 from Tractor Supply: $3.79 * 11 = $41.69
  2. Fourteen red bricks on the sides and six for the top. They are around 50 each * 20 = $10, but I should have enough.
  3. Furnace cement: $5 at Cal Ranch. Nobody else has it!
  4. I will use concrete as mortar. I am not buying a 50-pound bag for this small project!
  5. I am buying melamine for something else, but it is $29 for a 4x8 sheet.
  6. The aforementioned concrete [for the base].

Fat Charlie 09-19-2020 06:59 PM

Why wouldn't you leave the bottom as dirt?

Ours was rocks from the yard (the same place the stone wall out back got its supply) and it was fine for 17 years, until the pandemic "improve the backyard" bug hit everyone. Now we have a neater circle of rocks that we got from Lowe's and has a metal ring around the inside edge and an outer border of stone dust so the mower doesn't have to get too close.

But really, a firepit is the easiest thing: a pit for a fire. Ring it with rocks to make it clear you're burning something on purpose and call it good.

Xist 09-19-2020 08:09 PM

I plan on putting it on the patio.

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