Arborist, Steve Zumalt of North Attleboro, Massachusetts fills us in on what we need to know to stock up on firewood for the winter: How to season wood and how to know when the wood is well seasoned/dry, which woods to stock (in New England), BTUs, fireplace vs. wood stove and so on…
“The latest next generation wood burning stoves are over 90% efficient and look good too. If you are thinking of installing a wood burning stove then find out more. They come in a variety of designs with some being more efficient than others. Some wood burning stoves can revolve and would look good in the most modern of homes. Anglia Fireplaces demonstrate their use.”
Pros: It uses very little firewood and burns very efficiently and when the exhaust pipes are clean with little smoke near the person cooking.
Cons: Can be difficult to start a fire in these stoves as the stove’s opening is small. If you blow into the stove a wave of heat can come back at you and burn your face. Apparently it also takes more work to construct than the simple rocket stove, as well.
Here is the Lorena stove being lit:
I’m conflicted about this design because of this — it seems materials matter.
Here, “Dr. Larry Winiarski makes a clean burning rocket stove using 16 adobe bricks at the Rotary International-sponsored Integrated Cooking Workshop in Tlautla, Mexico.”
Important points: The advantages of this kind of stove – rocket stoves are easy to construct, burn wood extremely efficiently, so a little wood goes a long way, generate very little smoke, and burn hot.
The stove he demonstrates is made with unfired adobe brick that was made with plant material (straw) as a binder. This makes for light but very well insulating bricks.
solarwindmama who posted this video to YouTube says that she made a similar stove with fired red brick from Home Depot and it worked but that she thinks that the heat would have been more concentrated with unfired adobe brick.
Point 2: Rocket stoves have to be used outside or carefully and properly vented, otherwise you risk carbon monoxide poisoning.
The Dakota Fire hole/pit offers a highly efficient way to create an outdoor camp fire.
Advantages: Burns very hot, the fire is well-contained, uses much less firewood than a conventional above ground fire, is less smoky, is easier to conceal (if that’s a concern) as and after you’ve used it than conventional camp fires. It is also easier to fully extinguish (back fill the hole) and integrates a stable cooking surface into its design.
Disadvantages: Will be harder to dig the two pits necessary for this kind of camp fire if the ground is very rocky, sandy, wet or a tangle of tree roots. It may take more time and physical effort to prepare, since you need to dig dual holes than a conventional fire pit.
The design is actually similar to that of a Rocket stove only instead of constructing out of clay or brick or whatever, here you are digging your heating and cooking chambers.
Some good views of the fire in action here:
I’ve read that Dakota fire holes are NOT good options for use inside a shelter or dwelling unless you can be sure that your fire is venting properly, as you can run a carbon monoxide poisoning risk.
“The Rocket Stove is a variety of wood-burning cooking stove. It is easy to construct, with low-cost materials. These are low-mass stoves designed to burn small pieces of wood very efficiently. Cooking is done on top of a short insulated chimney. The stoves are typically constructed out of trash: tin cans, old stovepipes, etc. A skirt around the pot will help hold heat in, increasing the efficiency.
Rocket Stoves use branches, twigs, small wood scraps, or just about any small combustible material. The pieces of wood or other material burn at their tips, increasing combustion efficiency, creating a very hot fire, and eliminating smoke. The low-mass stove body and insulated chimney ensure that the heat goes into the cooking pot, not into the stove. Rocket stoves used in conjunction with hayboxes can save enormous amounts of fuel, cooking complete meals while using very few resources.” You can read the rest of the descriptive article here.
In the following videos, Chris Towerton, shows us how to construct a rocket stove cob oven. He uses clay, a steel pipe and straw.:
Chris’ inspiration video was by Jon and Flip who have built these ovens for firing pottery and for baking/cooking food as part of their relief work in Haiti.