Rocket Stoves

The stove we built for our cottage works along somewhat similar principles as a rocket stove and keeps us toasty warm all winter without overheating by storing the heat energy in the thermal mass of our tiny cottage. We do hot fast burns that heat up the stonework around the stove which then leaks out to the rest of the 100,000 lbs of masonry in our cottage. The result is we burn a fire during the day and don’t have to at night.

Outdoors: 30°F/10°F Light Snow, Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 66°F/62°F

Daily Spark: Lions lie on ions.

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Rocket Stoves

  1. Bill says:

    Interesting. We have an outdoor boiler from Central Boiler on our place and it keeps us warm and toasty all winter. It’s one of the wisest decisions we made our farm.

  2. Eric Hagen says:

    Why’d you decide against a rocket stove? And another question I’ve had for you, what are you thoughts on composting toilets? From what I’ve gathered you have a septic system, at least for the butcher shop.

    • Actually, our cottage is a rocket stove. I built it long before I had ever heard of ‘rocket stoves’ and had built a similar smaller version (less mass) in our old farmhouse back in the late 1980’s. It works very well. The essential principle is to do hot fast burns with plenty of air, turbulence and then have thermal mass that soaks up the energy storing it for later. These sorts of stoves have been around in many forms for centuries including the old Russian fireplaces. In the case of our cottage our wood heater looks like a cross between a rocket stove and a Russian fireplace with the storage built right into the mass of the cottage at it’s heart. Works great.

      • Eric Hagen says:

        Why is a fast burn crucial? For more efficient combustion? Russian fireplaces are really cool, it was fun reading about the folklore surrounding them. Led me to Baba Yaga, whom I didn’t know much about beyond Pictures at an Exhibition.

        From an idealist perspective, I think I’ll want to return the fertility passing through my body back into the ground and ultimately back into crops or pasture. I can imagine customers not wanting to think about their food being so close in the cycle to human waste. It’s a tricky topic. If there’s enough time to compost and enough steps between the manure and food meant for people it’s safe, but still… And I’m sure there are hefty juridicial issues when producing food for human consumption.

        Municipal waste facilities theoretically can do a good job at recycling nutrients and capturing energy stored in molecular bonds (bacteria, man), but even with high efficiency in energy and nutrient recycling there is a lot of unnecessary water involved, which feels wasteful to me.

        • Fast burns are more efficient and produce a more complete burn. A turbulent smoke path further increases the completeness of the burn. Dry wood is important. The heat of the fast burn gets stored in the masonry for a nice long slow release and avoids overheating the house. Much like passive solar onto a trombe wall heats up the wall and then slowly releases into the building – thus our front wall partitions.

          I agree with you on the nutrient cycling and water issue. If you do use a composting toilet then don’t talk about it so the government doesn’t come and be nasty to you because they want to support the septic industry and destroy the nutrient cycle. Yes, this really is the reality of lobbyists who put through their agendas using scare tactics and a small dose of real problems. Unfortunately municipal waste facilities are dealing with all the non-organic things people throw down their drains like poisons, pills, paint, pollutants, etc. That and lobbyist money sets the regulations. Unfortunately as people have concentrated to smaller areas and disconnected from real life through services for everything there has been a loss of awareness of these issues. Because people do put truly nasty things down their toilets and sink drains I would not bring in fertilizer made from human wastes and municipal sewers. I know some farms do that but they’re putting toxics on their land – bad idea.

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