Rocket Stove — a Perfect Science Lesson and Family Preparedness Lesson

I’m a homeschool dad. I’m now also very big into “Being Prepared” (my brother was living in New Orleans when hurricane Katrina hit). These are two of the big reasons that I was so interested in making a Rocket Stove when I found out about them recently.

I did some research on Rocket Stoves and found out some interesting things that you will want your children to learn while working on this project:

Did you know that:

1. Rocket Stoves are twice as efficient as other wood-burning stoves?

2. Rocket Stoves can cook a whole meal with only a few twigs?

3. Rocket Stoves are the Perfect ‘Emergency Stove’ that you can use if electricity and normal commercial supplies are somehow cut off or unavailable?

4. Because the fire is contained within the insulated section of the stovepipe, the heat of the fire is unable to radiate outward (like a ‘normal’ campfire). This forces the heat upward, where it is used to cook the food. This is why Rocket Stoves are hotter and more efficient than regular campfires.

5. Even if you had a Solar Cooker for emergency use, that wouldn’t be helpful at night, or in cloudy weather like a Rocket Stove would.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that every family needs to have their own Rocket Stove. But the Rocket Stove is a relatively recent invention. So people have no way of getting one unless they make their own. So I did what everyone else was doing–I made my own prototype.

As I did so, I realized that having my son build his own Rocket Stove would be the perfect educational “science project” for learning about:

heat transfer,

heat loss,


how air helps fires burn hotter and more efficiently,

fire safety,

ecologic friendliness,

industrial arts skills,

basic mechanics, and

how to help plan ahead for family emergencies.

That’s a lot of education for one small project (and well worth the effort).

The Rocket Stove instructions that I was able to obtain showed how to make one with a large 5-gallon can. But I couldn’t find such a large can anywhere, so I adapted the instructions and improvised my own Rocket Stove using two “#10” cans (sometimes called ‘institutional sized’ cans) attached together, to make the exterior frame of the stove, with 4-inch stovepipe serving as the fire chamber. Between the stovepipe and the tin-can exterior frame is a void filled with vermiculite (a low-weight insulator that helps the stove to be very efficient). The vermiculite is kept into place by means of a metal O-ring (made from the lid of one of the tin cans) that is placed near the top of the stovepipe.

To see a more detailed description of construction along with several photos of different steps of construction, follow this link:

This version of the Rocket Stove has several advantages over other ‘camp stoves’:

1. It’s more portable

2. It’s just right for small groups or individuals.

3. It hardly uses any fuel to cook a meal. Just a few twigs is all.

4. You can find free ‘fuel’ for the Rocket Stove almost anywhere.

5. It takes up very little space when you pack it, leaving room for more important items. In an emergency, you won’t have much room to spare.

After making my Rocket Stove prototype, I took it on a Boy Scout campout with my son, to test it out.

It was a hit.

The Boy Scouts were trying to cook their dinners at the camp fire, and it was going slow. After a few minutes, I pulled out my Rocket Stove, quickly set it up and got the fire roaring within a minute. In about 3-4 minutes, I had my dinner fully cooked. Suddenly, all of the Boy Scouts were interested in my stove (they were still waiting for their food to cook). Now they each want to build their own Rocket Stove (including my son).

Today, as I write this, my son is excitedly building his own Rocket Stove (under my supervision).

So, if you are looking for a good science project for a homeschooled boy (or girl), I highly recommend making a Rocket Stove. Your child will be happy, and your family will be better prepared for emergencies.

–George Stancliffe

Author’s Bio: 

George Stancliffe is the author of SPEED READING 4 KIDS, a manual for teaching your children to read a whole lot faster, with better comprehension. The methods used in SPEED READING 4 KIDS are more ‘kid-friendly’ that other methods. The results are guaranteed, even for ADHD, ADD and Dyslexic children.


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