Rocketstove: Making one from metal Olive oil container

For the last few months I have have comments turned off. There was a lot to say and I didn’t want distraction. But don’t think that meant I wasn’t listening to you. I pay attention to what people read and what search terms lead them here.

Rocket stoves have been a popular search item so its time to give you even more information.

I’m going to make one. I’m starting with a 13kg Olive oil can and I’ll have photos for all the relevant steps and a boil time test.

13 Kg olive oil can.  31 pounds in weight

The starting material a large Olive oil can. restaurants and other food businesses throw these away quite regularly, so that’s a good place to start looking if you don’t usually buy oil in this size container.

It’s convenient that there is a large round hole in the center of the top so I wont need to cut one there. Somewhere in the purple band is where I will cut a hole for the pipe which will be the elbow bend pipe.

There is a small handle on the front which i will probably keep as it will be useful for carrying the stove if I need to move it. i think the handle will be better at the front rather than the back as it will stop the ashes falling out for the bottom of the elbow.

 

The next step will be using sand paper to remove the paint from the can. If the paint is left on the can, it will burn and produce unpleasant and possibly toxic fumes.

 

<more to come>

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Fire: Swedish fire torch

This is a really neat technique of conserving wood and getting a fire going fast and making a stable cooking platform. You will need an axe and a saw to shape the wood block, but it looks worth it.

I just had another thought, all the things are familiar but arranged in a different way and its suddenly so much better, what a concept.

Scram bag : Aluminium can stove

Aluminium can stove photograph

Firstly I know my North American readers will say you spelled it wrong, and while you may be right in that in your area its spelled aluminum. But  according to IUPAC its been officially Aluminium for the last 15 or so years.

We are of course talking about the 13th element on the periodic table witch has low density and low corrosion rate due to its propensity to form a protective oxide layer.

Aluminium will however corrode markedly if it is left in a salty environment such as a salt spray zone near an ocean or salty lake.

I should talk more extensively about Aluminium as a material at a later date.

We live in a throw away society where things are made to be used once and then destined to become land fill. The humble aluminium can is one such product.

However we can change the game and turn a low cost one use item into something much more useful and possibly life saving depending on the situation.

Water is of course essential for life, 3 days without water and its likely that you will be dead, close to dead, or if miraculously resuced at the last minute you may suffer from life long health effects.

Water is a great mobilizer of materials and living things some of these living things will be very harmful if you drink them.

If you find water of unknown quality you will need to be cautious.

Straining water even with a cotton shirt will remove most suspended material (dirt etc) but will not kill pathogens.

Boiling water after it has been strained will kill most pathogens and make water much safer to drink.

It not appropriate  or possible to make a fire in ever possible location you might be so a small cooker is a great option to have.

You could buy a propane/butane gas cooker but they are expensive by comparison require large gas canisters and are in themselves somewhat bulky and fragile.

So there is a niche for a cheap to make cheap to run cooker for boiling water or cooking food.

I made an awesome info-graphic and I’ll add it here. it may be better to download the image or open it is a separate window to see it in its full glory.

It described the manufacture of one of many designs of the aluminium can stove.

pic

Aluminium can stove info graphic

Manufacture notes

1-Remove all of the paint from the can with sandpaper.

2-Empty the can.

3-Put holes into top section. (thumb tack or drill)

4-Cut out the circular section around the ring pull. (razor blade)

5-Cut into 3 sections. (razor blade or tin snips)

6-Cut center section.(razor blade or tin snips)

7-Flange out the  sharp edge bottom section slightly. (screwdriver shaft)

8-(optional) add glass wool between bottom and center sections.

9-Put top section inside bottom section.

Fuel

this stove runs best from pure alcohol.
Pure alcohol is quite hard to obtain. the pureset from of alcohol is methylated spirts.
methylated spirts is about 96-99% Alcohol.
the rest (1 -4%) is made up other impurities (like methanol) so that is is toxic and/or unplesant to drink.
Methlyated spirits is quite cheap at about $2-3 per litre making this a very economical fuel.

Use
pour fuel into the center section of the stove and light.
it may be easier to light the stove with a  match or piece of paper or dry grass rather than a lighter.

during day time the flame may be difficult to see.
once light the stove cannot be easily extinguised and the flame heat is not adjustable.
Different sotves produce different ammounts of heat and this may be a way of controlling heat.
multiple stoves may be used together to produce more heat.

Why is this item important.
It shows that useful things can be made from commonly available low cost items.
It introduces people to making things for themselves.
In many situations the ability to boil water to sterilise it maybe a life saving device.

The material
Aluminium does not readily corrode except for in a very salty environment.
(such as in the salt spray zone of beaches)
Aluminium may begin to corrode when place in contact with other metals for extended periods of time.
Aluminium melts at 660C, so its unlikely to melt during normal operation.
the thickness of Aluminium in cans makes them quite fragile.
A  sturdy container is recomended to prevent the stove being crushed in a backpack.

Alternative designs
there are many alternative designs to the can stove.
Each have their merits in terms of use and ease of construction.
For some people constructing these is a serious hobby.

precautions

Long term : Rocket stove plans and design

Once you have settled down you will realize the impact you will have on your environment. Perhaps not initially but eventually you will notice trees and wood will start to become scarce. You have been using solid wood as fuel in a rather in efficient way. A  rocket stove works by concentrating heat and constraining air flow into a small space, creating a small fire storm which more efficiently converts wood fuel into heat. The rocket stove also utilizes very small pieces of wood which would not be very useful in a traditional open fire apart from being kindling.

Normal small size rocket stove made from metal.

The rocket stove is a solution to this inefficiency. Made of a large can with metal tubes and insulated with vermiculite or other insulator.

A device such as this allows you to turn twigs and small branches into a way to heat your home, boil water or cook food. this is the majority of your energy expenditure in your home so its a great saving in a long recession, if that’s the storm you are weathering.

Room size rocket stove design.

It would be interesting if there are designs that contain no metal at all, such as an all fired clay design.

The smaller designs are portable but a little large for longer journeys, where a different solution might be preferable. There are custom built designs just for boiling water.