Whether you’re new to camping or have a tea time emergency, you may want to consider the possibility of using a rocket stove rather than your common gas hob.
But why? What is the point of a rocket stove? Is a Rocket Stove a sufficient stove alternative?
Before we start, it’s probably worth noting that the stoves mentioned here are suitably sized for camping and backpacking but not for big family BBQs. However, there are larger alternatives on the market that can accommodate this.
When we look at the pros and cons of the rocket stoves, we need to appreciate why they have been designed and why, and where, you’d think about using one.
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What is a Rocket Stove?
A rocket stove is a small, portable, lightweight cooking alternative designed for when you’re out and about in the wilderness, on the beach…or at a campsite!
You can burn biomass, small diameter wood, or solidified fuels in these little systems, and they’re a great alternative to liquid fuel stoves (and cheaper too!).
They work by creating a combustion chamber from the air vents at the bottom to a narrower opening at the top where you can place your grill or saucepan.
There are many shapes and sizes, most of which are designed to fit right into your backpack! Handy for emergency heat or that hot water you may need!
What is the Point of a Rocket Stove?
Believe it or not, there are many environmentally friendly reasons why fishermen, hunters, and campers will choose a rocket stove over the more common methods.
When we compare a rocket stove to a traditional open fire, here are some significant differences that may make you think twice before you turn on the gas next time:
Rocket stoves use less fuel
This is entirely true!
On the occasions where you do not have a base camp to return to with adequate cooking facilities, you can just pop out your rocket stove and grab a handful of twigs and leaves from under your feet, fill up your pot, and before you know it, you’re sat down looking over the mountains with a hot cup of tea.
Rocket Stoves give out fewer pollutants
When you are using significantly less fuel, you will be producing significantly fewer emissions, right? Yes!
Not only are these rocket stoves more efficient with the heat they produce, but they are better for the environment in the long term, and they will keep those harmful gases down to an incredibly low level.
Rocket Stoves are easy to use
As a rule, pretty much all of the rocket stoves on the market are incredibly user-friendly.
While it may take a few moments to assemble and get it appropriately balanced on a tree stump or even surface, it is fair to say that once you’ve accomplished that, you’re good to go!
Rocket Stoves are better for the environment
Once you’ve finished cooking and the fire has been extinguished, what remains of your fuel is natural charcoal which is super nutritious for the soil and ground around you.
So make sure you empty it in a suitable place and only when the remnants are entirely cooled, knowing that you are feeding the ground beneath your feet.
Do Rocket Stoves Smoke?
This is a simple matter of what you set alight within it!
If you choose to burn a healthy tree branch that still has a lot of moisture inside, then there’s going to be a lot of smoke!
However, If you scour the ground for dried leaves and twigs, then there’s going to be much less smoke.
It’s here we discover where the name “Rocket Stove” came from initially.
Like we mentioned before, the way rocket stoves are designed means they have a combustion chamber, and if smoke is coming out of the top, then not all of the fuel is combusting.
We all learnt as kids that hot air rises and those fundamental principles are in practice right here with a Rocket Stove.
As the cooler air flows in through the feed tube (where you’ve put the twigs etc.), the flames get “sucked” down into the burn tunnel (where the fire is.), creating the unmistakable purr (or roar, depending on how you look at it) of the rocket stove.
After the combustion, the smoke that rises from the chimney is pretty much the only gas left, carbon monoxide.
This means that if your stove is set up correctly (or you’re using a different fuel source), there will be NO smoke rising out of the chimney.
Pretty diverse, right?
How Long Does a Rocket Stove Burn For?
The answer to this question will be greatly impacted by the materials used.
How Long is a piece of string?
This will probably be the number one thing on your mind while your sausages are frying… “Is the fire going to last?”
Let’s look at it this way. If you’ve put just a handful of leaves it to burn, it’s probably not going to last that long.
However, if you kit the Rocket Stove out with some twigs or small branches, it’s going to burn significantly longer.
The beauty about rocket stoves is that the majority of them have easy access for you to add more fuel to the fire! So if If you notice it slowing down a bit, then grab another handful and chuck them on!
Disclaimer! Obviously, you should be responsible and not throw biomass at your food….carefully add them to the feed tube and watch it carry on like nothing ever happened!
Can a Rocket Stove Be Used Indoors?
The short answer is no.
Would you have an open lit fire in the middle of your lounge?
Well, actually, many homes have open fires, but what’s the one thing they have? A chimney. If you’re going to have a small rocket stove in an enclosed space, such as a tent, you need to make sure that it is adequately ventilated and the harmful carbon monoxide, no matter how low it may be, can effectively egress from your temporary canvas home.
When it comes to camping, fires should be lit only when outdoors!
So in summary, are rocket stoves good?
The Rocket Stove is a perfect piece of camping equipment if you are travelling light, or if you need the lightest but most efficient piece of equipment to carry along when you don’t have a base to return to.
It is incredibly Eco-Friendly with its fuel sources and emissions and can be re-stoked during use for a consistent burn, which is handy if you have the fuel to hand.
They are compact and certainly do the job, but should only be used in a well-ventilated environment for safety, and obviously, far enough away from anything that will ignite, like your tent itself!
But overall, a great piece of lightweight kit that could be really handy in an emergency situation or if you are heading out somewhere that doesn’t have a base camp with facilities.
Have Fun and Enjoy, Safely!