DIY Guide: Building a Rocket Stove with Ecotopia Biketour!

We hope that you already met Ecotopia Biketour, the eco-mobile and do-it-yourself community that has been practicing aspects of activism, alternative ways of organizing and sustainable living throughout different areas of Europe for over 20 years! And you know that when you’re traveling with a bicycle or just camping outside for a long time you need to rely on your DIY skills. And here’s a short guide on how to build your own DIY rocket stove like the one that the folks from Ecotopia Biketour at the beginning of their trip this year. 

So, we’re Ecotopia Biketour and we’re building a rocket stove. Rocket stove is a special device to cook with wood efficiently. The way it works is that there is a novel pipe inside the barrel that is insulated. You make a fire in the oven pipe, so you put the wood on the side and light the fire from the side, then the flames come out at the top.  On the top of the barrel you can put a pot that will be heated very efficiently by this.

To build the rocket stove you first need to get some materials, the first thing that you need is a big barrel, like a container of olives, or cheese, motor-oil or something. You need to get an oven-pipe that should be kind of the same length of the barrel, you need to get the part of oven-pipe that have the bent inside, so you have to make this curved pipe where the fire from the inside comes out at the top. You have to attach all those parts together.

The other thing you need is the insulation and the best insulation, at least for carrying it on a bike, is called perlite, it looks like some rubber foam but it’s actually some sand from a volcano that was heated. It works in some kind like a pop-corn, when heated it pops up into this foamy kind of material that is really light and insulating very well. Also when you put in the environment it’s not toxic because it’s just stone basically.

And so, when you have these materials together, the first step would be to make two holes into the barrel. They should be the same size of the pipe that you are using. The second step then is to put the oven-pipes through the barrel, so when you cut them into the right size it will come out of the top for a bit, at the top of the barrel through one of the holes that you’ve made. And there will be like 2 or 3 cm longer than the barrel. And then the other end of the the oven-pipe should come out through the hole on the side of the barrel. It should point out a bit more than a couple of centimeters because this where you put the wood where you make the fire, so it can be a little bit longer. Then you should fill up the  air inside the barrel with the perlite or other insulation material. And the last step would be to seal the holes around the oven-pipe so that the perlite could not fall out.

And then what you need for cooking there, because the oven-pipe sticks out a bit at the top of the rocket stove, is to put some stones on the top of the barrel on which you can put the pot. If it’s standing directly on the top of the oven-pipe it will not work, because the concept is that there’s a lot of air-flow through the oven-pipe, so the air gets soaked into the side of the barrel and through the oven-pipe it will come out at the top, so if the pot is too close to the pipe it doesn’t work, so you have to put some stones on the top of the barrel.

All photos by Georgi Teofilov.

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