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How to Build a Rocket Stove Using Cement Blocks

In less than two minutes, you can learn how to build a rocket stove using only cement blocks. Just watch this brief video, "The 6-Block Rocket Stove," for the easy instructions.

The video's clever design for a dual-burner DIY rocket stove uses only six concrete masonry units (CMU), also known as cement blocks or foundation blocks. By stacking the blocks as demonstrated, you'll be able to channel enough heat from a small fire to cook food in two separate pots.

If you've not familiar with the concept of rocket stoves, these efficient cooking (and heating) devices are typically compact and simply designed. A rocket stove generates heat with substantially less environmental impact than an open fire, burning up about half the flammable material. Fires can be built and maintained inside rocket stoves using small twigs, branches and even grasses — making the devices especially suited to places where wood is scarce. This type of stove is valuable in off-the-grid living and rural applications where gas or electricity isn't available. Rocket stoves can be used to cook food or heat small spaces; some rocket stove plans incorporate heat exchangers for heating large quantities of water.

To build the rocket stove featured in this video, you'll need 3 standard cement blocks, 2 half-blocks and one stretcher unit. As the video demonstrates, the blocks can be arranged quickly, and your rocket stove will be fully operational in a matter of minutes. Start by placing one standard block lengthwise, with its solid surface down, and topping it with the stretcher unit having its openings facing skyward. Flank this arrangement on each end with one standard block, openings turned out to the sides (the side-facing openings will function as fuel magazines into which you'll feed the flames). Place the half-blocks on top to create two vertical chimneys, over which you can place recycled burner grates to support cooking pots and to allow for a draught. And that's it: Now you know how to build a rocket stove for cooking.

The video also includes instructions to build a more compact, single-burner rocket stove using just four cement blocks.

Rebecca Martin is an Associate Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, where her beats include DIY and Green Transportation. She's an avid cyclist and has never met a vegetable she didn't like. You can find her on Google+.
8/23/2015 9:11:31 AM

This was posted on Facebook many months ago and I have yet to see a post from someone injured by this. It may be only a temporary solution but it would come in handy in a major pinch. As for exploding from the heat, perhaps the blocks were damp? Older blocks are more solid than these newer ones, perhaps this isn't such a great idea if using the newer ones? Rather than smacking someone up side the head - ask questions and get more info before 'roasting' the idea. One can always put blocks in front of where the person will be to provide some protection from any weakness in the set-up. Make suggestions, maybe give better solutions - don't just slam something. Good grief.

12/15/2013 9:10:09 AM

I've used something like this on a little piece of land I have out in the woods. The design was slightly different but made of concrete. I've used it for years to make coffee and breakfast and never had a problem with the concrete blocks they have lasted just fine for years.

12/13/2013 1:14:34 PM

cement blocks wont last, that is a one time shot. native stone is what i used when i made my first one years ago. The idea is great, the execution is horrible and this is really very bad info. Cement can even explode with the heat thats invovled. Did the author even try it? Or did she think this was a great idea and set readers up for possible injury? This totally irresponsible.

anabell jones
12/11/2013 12:47:59 PM

Word to the wise cement won`t stand up to the high temperatures for long and a J tube design requires a lot less attendance.