I’m always trying to find new ways of cooking in the event of a power outage. Outages are fairly common in my neighborhood, so we’re pretty well able to cope by using the gas grill, or camp stove. The issue of purchasing fuel, however, has been nagging at the back of my mind for a few years, so I’ve been looking into other options.
I’ve tried solar cooking with marginal success. While it would be a good option during summer months our lattitude doesn’t have a great angle for capturing the sun’s rays during the winter. Haunting the internet one evening I stumbled on something called a rocket stove. A rocket stove has a ventilated combustion chamber under a chimney area over which you place your pan. If I understand the concept correctly, venitlation in the combustion chamber causes the stove to burn ultra efficiently, consuming not only the wood, but the gases which result from the burning of that wood. That efficiency makes it possible to cook with small fuels such as yard waste, twigs, and pinecones. There are many versions available for purchase, at a range of prices. They appear to be durable and get good reviews. Too bad I’m cheap.
I opted to make mine from 16 bricks which cost .24 each at the home and garden store. Ideally it should have been made from adobe or another insulative material, but we use what is readily available. I mostly followed a video I found on You Tube. I omitted the middle, bottom brick and instead used a crushed can with some holes cut in for ventilation. Since I built mine on a large flat rock I didn’t need the center brick to keep my fire out of the surrounding material, which would be a concern if it were set up on a table or on the ground near combustibles, which would be foolish anyway.
To test the stove I gathered a handful of wood chips and bark from around the bottom of our woodpile and some newspaper. I crumpled the newspaper in the bottom of the stove and dropped some of the wood on top. There was initially some smoke when I lit the paper, but once the wood caught and was burning well, I added more sticks through the bottom opening and soon the smoke stopped. I placed a grill from an old hibachi on top of the stove and put a small sauce pan with some chili on that.
Steam started rising from the chili at six minutes and it reached a boil at 16 minutes. It’s not as quick as an LP stove, but the fuel source is readily available and costs me nothing so, it works for me! What alternative cooking methods have you tried?