Rocket Mass Stove Burns Tiny Amounts of Wood, Heats for Well Over 12 Hours

Rocket Mass Stove wood photo
Video screen capture. Paul Wheaton

Paul Wheaton/Video screen capture

From ingenious strategies to cut your heating bill in half to video instructions on how to kill a chicken, Paul Wheaton has produced some wonderful video resources on the lower-tech end of simple green living. But his videos on rocket mass heaters have stood out as excellent examples of how simple technologies can not just match high-tech options, but actually beat them.

This latest conversation with rocket stove experts Ernie and Erica Wiesner is no exception.

Rocket Mass Stove heat riser photo

Paul Wheaton/Video screen capture

Showing off their latest creation one afternoon, a stone and cob rocket mass heater/bench, the Wiesner's explain that they have not lit a fire since the previous evening, and yet the room (and the bench!) are still toasty warm despite a bitterly cold day outside.

The reasons for this are pretty simple—rocket stoves are designed to optimize burning through efficient combustion, optimal air flow and a well insulated fire chamber. Meanwhile the mass around the rocket stove absorbs that heat—which is forced down and sideways instead of up—storing it and releasing it over 12 to 24 hours.

The result, say Ernie and Erica, is that they burn about 2 cubic feet of wood on the coldest of days, meaning a cord can last them up to 4 months—all this in the Ocanagan Highlands just south of the Canadian border. It's pretty impressive stuff. All the more so because they have just moved in and are burning pretty crappy wood.