DIY Rocket Stove Designs

Learn how to build woodburning cookstoves for your campsite, homestead, or backyard with these DIY rocket stove plans.

  • This rocket stove took Muhammet Sel a few hours to build, but it'll bring water to a boil in less than 10 minutes!
    Photo by Muhammet Sel
  • This super-portable rocket stove is simply perfect for camping.
    Photo by John Fischer
  • The gap between the inner chimney wall and the outer wall should be filled with earth, sand, or another heat-tolerant material.
    Photo by Muhammet Sel
  • Muhammet Sel calls his finished project the “Space Shuttle” because of its color, but also because of its impressive heat production.
    Photo by Muhammet Sel
  • The central "H" in this rocket stove design creates a combustion chamber when topped with another block.
    Photo by
  • The finished product is simple, but it can throw out a surprising amount of heat.
    Photo by
  • Metal grating allows the feed chamber to separate into fresh wood and a coal bed.
    Photo by Ravi Deo
  • Deo's finished product is an attractive backyard focal point.
    Photo by Ravi Deo
  • Made from a popcorn can, this rocket stove demonstrates the broad applicability of the rocket stove design.
    Photo by Fred Erdmann

I fashioned my first rocket stove out of three cinder blocks, a couple of chunks of paving slab, a rusty can, and a brick that I dug out of an industrial dump beside the Kalamazoo River. It was free, DIY, and as ugly as could be. My second rocket stove was made from the same materials, and wasn’t much prettier. But when it came time to feed a hungry crew of guerrilla gardeners, both stoves lit easily, burned hot, and used only a few sticks of wood apiece!

My experience isn’t surprising because rocket stove designers aim for nothing less than radical efficiency — the best of these stoves burn minimal wood and produce little ash, smoke, and excess heat. Rocket stoves achieve their efficiency with do-it-yourself simplicity rather than intricate engineering or expensive fabrication. This, too, is by intention: Ianto Evans and Larry Winiarski designed the first rocket stove in the 1980s for woodstove cooks across the developing world, where inefficient use of fuel wood often contributes to massive deforestation and pollution.

A rocket stove’s central “elbow” design is fundamental to its efficiency. Similar to traditional fireplaces, a rocket stove chimney, often called a “combustion chamber,” creates a draft, but the elbow moves the cooking surface upward (away from the fire and coals) onto the chimney’s vent. While this placement would cause problems for traditional stoves, the rocket stove produces minimal smoke. Rocket stoves pull an ample, oxygen-rich draft from below a fuel shelf into the horizontal section of the elbow, over hot coals, through the burning sticks, and up the combustion chamber to the cooking surface. While all rocket stove designs use the same basic elbow template, creative makers continue to push the limits of performance and efficiency with improved chamber insulation, more efficient fuel use, and higher burn temperatures. Have you wanted to discover how to build a rocket stove for your own homestead or back patio? Here are five rocket stove designs that anyone with basic DIY skills can make.

DIY Rocket Stove for Camping

John Fischer packs his portable rocket stove every time he hits the trails outside of the German city of Stuttgart. By designing a detachable feeding tube, combustion chamber, and grill grid, he produced a rocket camp stove that packs down just like his tent.

Materials: Large pressurized canister; 4 pieces of scrap metal for supply shaft; insert tray; 2 metal legs; 2 nuts, washers, and bolts; bolt with pointed head; short cable.

• Empty a pressurized canister completely and measure its length and diameter.

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