The other day we experienced a kind of pre-tornado, going from a dead calm to branches breaking in three seconds flat. Then, no power for four hours, and then another session of no power, and then another.
I tried plugging the fridge into an emergency power source. It worked! The wattage draw was pretty high for the first five minutes, but then it calmed down. All good.
Meanwhile, I fired up the rocket stove to cook dinner. Very interesting. I added no twigs, no wood, just some crumpled paper, some bits of cardboard, times three, some minutes apart each time, which was more than enough to complete the cooking. That ultra-super-efficiency surprised me. All good.
Prepping, I’m finding out, is best accomplished by putting one’s prepping into action from time to time. It’s only the actual usage that one finds out strengths or weaknesses of one’s prepping. And it’s enjoyable recreation. And it builds confidence.
This took literally just minutes to throw together with no welding, no cement, all from materials that I had lying around from back in hermitage days, including the ash shovel and poker. So, zero cost.
View from the back with the stove pipe being inserted:
You can see that there are 8 firebricks either side and another 4 in the back with the “tunnel” being less wide than the length of a firebrick so that the fire is well contained at the back. The brown paving brick to either side slightly cantilevers the upper blocks toward the stove pipe. That merely 1 foot section of stove pipe sits on top of the firebricks at the back, having enough room for the circumference to sit back from the corners of the tops of the firebrick, thus completely enclosing the fire and making from great “draw” aerodynamics, rocketing the flames upward. Here’s an optical illusion (because of reflections) view from the top. You get the idea:
For the front edge of the circumference, I slid a piece of tin, completely covering the open spaces to left and right with plenty out front.
That piece of tin out front was covered by another firebrick acting as bridge in front of the pipe. That was in turn covered by a brown paving brick. In front of that, completing the bridge, was another solid cement block. Then another cement block was added, ever so slightly cantilevered toward the stove pipe for stability. So, again:
Here’s the one foot long 8″ diameter stove pipe I used:
You’ll see the the curved wire up top is interlaced very solidly on the top edge. This is your stove top, keeping your skillet or pot above the edge, thus allowing the flames to come up the chimney.
That’s a small skillet. A larger one will sit up top of the wires. Any method of pieces of metal or long spike-nails laid across the top (with small indents in the top of the pipe) will also work great. So:
14 solid cement blocks (which are fire-resistant, by the way):
6 blocks as a base, plus 1 out front for oversized branches and easier clean out, plus 4 more as stabilizers in the back, plus 1 on top out back as a stabilizer and countertop, plus 1 as a bridge out front and 1 on top out of that out front for a stabilizer and a countertop on which to put a hot skillet or pot to cool down.
1 floor tile to keep any popping coals from exiting the stove and, importantly, to act as a damper. The lean-to effect will allow any amount of air you want. You’ll need one extra brick at the bottom front to keep it from tipping over if you want to shut the fire down to a small flame to have your skillet heated to stable simmer temps.
21 firebricks: 20 at the bottom, 1 as a bridge closest to the stove pipe
3 paving bricks for cantilevering stability
4 squared-width bricks to the sides up top next to the stove pipe are for stability and to keep inquisitive dog noses from hot stove pipes
1 foot length of stainless steel 8″ diameter stove pipe
1 curved-wire stove pipe stabilizer (or other makeshift solution)
Time required: minutes. No welding. No cement. Gravity and cantilevering are your friends.
Of course, gathering fuel is great exercise. A parishioner had some branches down, so he donated them for the rocket stove. Here’s the result later in the day:
This was great exercise that will really aid my health in my “old age.” I slept extra soundly. That’s all priceless, right? Next project: prepare a place to nicely pile the wood up, away from the house, having cut it all to size, having sharpened my hatchet, having split the larger pieces apart, and letting it all get seasoned a bit more.
Note to diocese: This stove can be taken down in seconds. This is just a practical run of a concept. But it’s also good for outdoor, healthy recreation, that is, re-creation. That’s important for priests as well, right?
If it all hits the fan with storms and we’re off the grid for a while, and we lose perishables and run out of gas and propane, what on earth would one use a rocket stove for? Let me count the ways:
Hot water for washing self and clothes
Hot water for simmering beans and rice
Hot water to cook pasta and heat cans of diced tomatoes
Hot water for coffee or tea or soups
Hot skillets for frying up… um… are you ready? Let’s see:
Those huge turtles in the creek next to the rectory
Possums, squirrels, snakes, rabbits, birds, all in abundance in WNC. I’ll have to learn about snares, but I’m pretty good with a Glock. Even at a distance I could surely hit turkey buzzards when the “kettles” settle into trees, and wild turkeys, when the “rafters” are out grazing.
Fish from Valley River? Probably not. There are really of lot of people out fishing.
Deer and bear and boars are beyond me. Harvesting them instead of injuring them would take something more than my Glock could deliver. And besides, for that, in the impossibly steep mountain ridges here, I’d have to have workable knees. And besides, snakes taste like chicken.
Having such a rocket stove would be an occasion to speak about the faith with the neighbors when they inevitably come by to use it. Praise the Lord.
But if priests come by for such a mountain parish experience, they’ll have to bring, say, a freshly acquired boar. They have the rifles and skills for that. I don’t. There are hunting grounds with no limit and no regulated season right close by. We’ll butcher it straight away and invite all the neighbors.