The Ultimate Barrel Stove

After 25 years and many experimental models, Wes Hatch has come up with a barrel stove design he really likes.

| November/December 1979

Some 25 years ago, Wes Hatch of Athol, Idaho set out to build an efficient wood stove. Now a full quarter of a century later, the Gem State perfectionist finally feels he's come up with a real winner. And perhaps most important of all, Wes's energy-efficient woodburner can be constructed in no more than two or three weekends of concentrated do-it-yourselfing!

The "Cedar Mountain Barrel Stove" (named after the lovely peak that rises above Hatch's land) features downdraft primary and secondary air inlets,both of which are preheated to keep combustion temperatures as high as possible. The secondary draft provides additional oxygen (with turbulence) in the area where volatile gases must concentrate as they flow out of the combustion chamber, igniting at temperatures of up to 1000°F; in a conventional stove these gases often go up the chimney unburned. As an added feature, the Cedar Mountain Stove is airtight, making it easier for the heater's users to control combustion.

A Double-Barreled Blast

Wes's stove design is based upon the use of two barrels: A 55-gallon drum serves as the main fuel chamber, and a 15- to 30-gallon drum functions as a heat exchanger. Volatile "fumes" are burned in an elbow (lined with fire clay) that connects the two as well as in the heat exchanger itself.

Also, in order to keep the barrel from "burning out" and to provide higher internal temperatures, the inventor lined the combustion chamber with fire clay. The beauty of this earthen insulation is that—if desired—copper tubing can be embedded in the refractory lining and used to heat circulating water!

Best of all, though oxyacetylene and arc welding are both necessary, one doesn't have to be a master craftsperson to build a Cedar Mountain Barrel Stove ... and the total cost of the homegrown product should be no more than $100 to $150, depending on the availability of materials. (Wes didn't actually set out to build an inexpensive, good-looking stove. He wanted to design a unit that satisfied the requirements of complete, efficient combustion but all along the way took the steps necessary to keep the project's costs as low as possible.)

A Wood-Saver

Was all of Mr. Hatch's work worth the effort? To that, I can answer a resounding YES! You see, Wes is my dad, so I've grown up serving as a guinea pig for each of his many stove creations. And let me tell you, he's ecstatic about this one! In fact, the whole family is!

12/20/2017 3:44:17 PM

Is there a company that still makes this stove today? Or is there a place to get plans? I'm interested in making my own version of this stove.

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!