Blast Off!

The back yard is just full of rockets these days.

Rocket greens (arugula) in the garden and a new rocket stove on the burn. Rocket stoves are incredibly efficient for cooking. They require only small twigs and use very few of them at that. You’ll see the key to this “small is beautiful” approach to cooking in the elegant construction explained below.

One of the last projects that Amy the intern and I worked on before she left was building the rocket stove. Well, she did most of the building and I served as technical adviser and steel cutter. Here is how the process worked. First, we chose a steel drum that we got at the auction house.

Then Amy raided our recycling bin…

…and did some tin can oragami.

Then she went to the beach to collect pumice.

One of the harder parts was cutting a perfectly round hole in the barrel to minimize air flow in and out. We used a combination of hack saw and roofing snips (the kind with curved blades) with great success.

We inserted Amy’s oragami “stove pipe” into the drum and packed it with pumice for insulation. From what I understand, it is key to use a “light” material like pumice instead of a “heavy” (dense) material like sand. That way the heat from the twiggy fire heats your meal instead of the mass of the packing material inside the barrel.

In order to seal the top with a non-flammable material, we chose some off-cuts of James Hardie weather boards leftover from siding the house. Again, cutting a perfectly round hole is important to minimize air flow. We used a hole saw for this. The Hardie boards provide a nice “counter top” working surface around the stove and protect the steel drum from the rain.

And finally, we harvested some fresh broccoli from our garden and a handful of twigs from under the willow tree…and a Tui (see bottom left-hand corner).

Once again, bon apetit!

Peace in the Middle East, Estwing