Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rocket Stoves

I purchased a Rocket Stove to add to my Survival cooking gear. I had planned on making my own and was just about to order the steel tubing I needed when a reader asked me if I knew anything about the Deadwood Stove they were thinking about buying. I never heard of it before so I researched them and wow what a strong, heavy duty, well built stove. After reading the spec’s I immediately made up my mind to buy the Deadwood Stove and not make my own. This is a stove that can be used everyday for years, a true long term Survival tool.

What is a Rocket Stove?
Rocket stoves are very simple. They are normally home made, constructed of sheet metal pipes or cans about 4 inches in diameter and with some permanent stoves constructed of brick. The operating principle is simple; a horizontal pipe attached to a vertical pipe. Inside the horizontal pipe the sticks or twigs (fuel) are placed with the ends inside the vertical pipe are then lit on fire. The heat created from the fire creates a draft traveling up the vertical pipe and while doing so draws more fresh cold air into the horizontal pipe adding more oxygen to the fire making it burn completely and very hot, like a rocket engine. A cooking pot is placed on top the vertical pipe is heated like a burner on your kitchen stove.

The stoves fuels are simple twigs and small branches or split wood about the size of kindling. A handful of sticks will cook continuously for 30-45 minutes.

The rocket stove we see and use today began being perfected in the late 1970’s although the concept was discovered much earlier. Today it is widely used in third world counties especially where cooking fuels are scarce. Rocket stoves are becoming popular in the USA for the same reason they’re used in third world countries, minimum fuel consumption for cooking food especially during disaster aftermaths when there’s no utilities available. A Rocket Stove is a true Survival stove. You can run out of propane, gas, fuel oil and electricity but to run out of wood used in this small amount is not likely to ever happen.

Below is a diagram of a rocket stove. (source Wikipedia)

Want to heat your home using the rocket stove principle? Check out this link it’s pretty interesting: Rocket Stove Mass Heater link.

Why did I purchase a rocket stove?
To survive comfortably you need to be able to cook food and drink safe water. The aftermath of a large disaster event could last for months and it could be months before food, fuels and utilities are re-supplied and restored to your area. I stock a reasonable amount to cooking fuels but with friends being under or not prepared it would be used up much sooner than planned.

Fortunately I live in a forested area so there is more wood within walking distance than my neighborhood could ever use up. Campfires are a waste of wood if used only for cooking and they’re not fun to cook on everyday, especially in the rain. Also most people can not have a campfire like apartment or condo dwellers.

A rocket stove uses very little wood to cook a meal or just as important boil water for safe drinking water! The rocket stove is the best cooking appliance insurance policy a Survivalist/Prepper can have. Even those who live in apartments or condo’s, if you have a balcony or patio space you can cook just use a cookie sheet under it incase any hot coals fall out they won’t start your balcony deck on fire!

The first fire and test of my new Rocket Stove:
I thought a good test would be making coffee! One because I like coffee and the other to give me an idea just how hot the fire is and how long it would take to boil water to sterilize it for safe drinking water. It worked out well. The fire was easy to start and keep burning. 10 cups of coffee took 15 minutes to begin perking and another 10 minutes to brew the pot. Just like on my propane camp stove.

Deadwood Stove Company link

Here are some photos:

When the Deadwood Stove arrived it made me wonder if they sent the wrong thing to me with “FRAGILE” prominently labeled on it. The stove is anything but fragile!!

The stove unpacked. It comes with legs, nice leather gloves and detailed instructions. My first impression was, I’m impressed, which is not easy to do! This is a quality product, everything is welded together so nothing will ever fall apart and the welding is beautiful, no hack job here, all the edges and corners have been ground smooth so there are no burrs or sharp edges to cut yourself on. The only parts to assemble are the legs and that would be your choice if you intend to use it on the ground use the legs or if using it on a table remove the leg extensions and use the welded on stub legs. The metal used is 1/8 inch thick steel everywhere including the heavy duty hinge.

The fuel, just twigs and dead branches from my yard. I get about this much every week

To start the fire just wad up some newspaper or pine needles or leaves or grass etc. and place it in the bottom.

Toss in a handful of twigs and light the paper.

Once the twigs ignite begin pushing in the larger twigs in from the side.

Fire starting to burn the larger wood.

Made in the USA.

Coffee’s on!

Almost done!

The cooking surface is large and very stable. No need to worry about the cast iron fry pan or cast iron pot falling off.

Fresh coffee, yum!


  1. Nice stove.Now you can curb hunt branches for fire wood and have a good backup for propane.Or rather use propane as a bacup for the deadwood stove.

  2. Gary, thanks. Depending on the emergency and if it looks like a short lived one I plan on starting with my propane stocks for cooking but if it looks like it will be drawn out I'll switch to wood and save the propane for emergency use.

  3. Great review and pics. Having a hard time saying no to this stove now that I've seen 2 reviews recently. Will have to save up a bit more.

  4. Hiya Mike. I have built and used a rocket stove before, with various degrees of success. My biggest problem is trying to use a camp oven, similar to the one you have. As my stoves were DIY, I am looking forward to an article of you using your oven with your rocket. I had great deal of difficulty controlling temp, usually running on cool side, some overheating resulting in charcoal...

  5. LindaKay, thanks. I’m sure one of these stoves is in your future. They will add convenience to inconvenient times.

  6. Sheldon, the camp oven is definitely something I have to get to work on the rocket stove. Baking especially bread is far too critical not to be able to do in a Survival mode. I need more time with the stove but feel hard wood split in uniform sizes will be the key. We’ll see how the attempts go.