Arizona Ice Tea – Rocket Stove
Before we made the big move to the South, Jacob and I became highly interested in rocket stoves. Okay, I lied. Jacob became highly interested and I listened to him explain how cool and innovative they really are. He convinced me that whatever cabin home we ended up living in that a rocket stove would be a great way to heat the home and cook our food.
So, he practiced making these cool stoves…often.
He watched a few videos online of people making rocket stoves using plastic 5-gallon pails as the outer shell. This was interesting to me as I would think that the plastic would melt pretty severely and eventually all of the insulation would leak out. (If you don’t know what I am talking about, seriously watch some of the rocket stove videos on YouTube and you will get my drift).
Jake started thinking that if pails and buckets worked for others, he could be just as innovative an upcycle other plastic-based items. Instead of using a 5-gallon pail with thick plastic, he tried a normal juice jug that everyone has in their trash…in our case it was a used an Arizona Ice Tea jug which had the added benefit of a handle.
The plastic of the jug is considerably thinner than a 5-gallon pail, so we expected it to melt pretty bad. Jacob constructed a soup can into an “L” formation, having a two-can fuel input section and a two-can stack. Plus, the addition of an Arizona Ice Tea bottle was tall so he had to extend the stack to give the stove a better vacuum. He made all the cuts needed in the cans and bottle and put it all together using normal play box sand as the insulation layer.
We fired it up and it worked great! Probably the best one he had made. After letting it burn and feeding it for about 2 hours, it was still performing strongly…there was some melting of the jug around the stack and the fuel input cans, but not enough to let the sand spill out. We were pretty shocked that it worked as well as it did, and with the cool little handle you can actually pick it up and move it around while lit. (Although I wouldn’t recommend doing that for safety reasons.)
So, long story short…plastic is a reasonable option for the outer shell of a rocket stove. Better yet, upcycled materials are a reasonable option. Probably won’t last forever, but it’s more readily available than a paint can sometimes, easier to cut and it reduces waste.
We are excited about this project that we tested back in Wisconsin because we soon will be sitting in on a rocket stove instructional speech in our new hometown. This particular speech is held by a group of locals that offer insight into interesting topics that deal with homesteading, farming and disaster preparedness. We will be letting everyone know how our innovative rocket stove worked out and how we plan to make many more while living in the woods.