The electricity is out, but the refrigerator is full. Does that mean that the only way you can cook your food is on a stick over a fire? No.
Even in a desperate grid-down situation, you don’t have to limit yourself to what you can eat. In fact, you can actually create your own survival kitchen outdoors, complete with a sink, a dishwashing system, cabinets and a cooking stove. For right now, we’re going to explore how you can make the stove part of your new survival kitchen, and it’s called a rocket stove.
The rocket stove is an efficient option that can be built at a cost of only a few dollars and assembled in a short amount of time. You will still be able to use all of your other normal kitchen equipment with this stove, so you can at least feel like you were cooking and preparing food in your normal kitchen. The other beauty of the rocket stove is that it doesn’t just have to be used in a survival situation; it can also be used as a temporary backup on normal days when your regular kitchen stove breaks down.
For this project, you’ll need about two dozen bricks (for this one, avoid cement bricks). At least two of the bricks will need to be significantly larger and flatter than the others, and another two of them will need to be about half the size of the regular ones. For the small ones, you can either find small bricks on your own, or you can take a regular sized one and break it in half with a hammer and chisel.
Find some flat ground outside and choose your location carefully. Next, take one of your two small bricks and three regular-sized ones and arrange them atop the two large bricks so that there is one opening on a side. It should be in a U-shape, with the large bricks acting as a base or foundation.
Next, take some wire screen and set it above the U-shape. Your fire will sit on top of the wire screen and the ashes will fall underneath it. Cut the wire screen so that it fits on top of the U-shaped bricks, and then make another U-shape on top of the wire screen and the existing U-shape, using identical bricks. (At this point, you’ll have the two flat bricks at the bottom, with the U-shaped bricks over that, with the wire screen atop the U-shape, and then with another U-shape over everything.
Now, take the rest of your bricks and begin stacking them up over what you have. These bricks should be placed on top of the opening produced by the two U-shapes in the manner that they close off the U, but the center of these bricks (see illustration) must be left uncovered save for the wire screen that will be deep inside the rocket stove – so that smoke can escape and you can obtain heat for cooking.
In short, your rocket stove should now resemble an outdoor, homemade chimney with the wire screen cutting through the bottom. You can make your stove as high as you believe it needs to be, but you don’t want to make it too high or too small.
The next step is to add a roof to your stove. Place another sheet of wire screen over the top of the stove, and secure it with a couple of more bricks or pieces of wood.
Take some fire tinder and set it on top of the wire screen at the U’s opening at the base. Keep plenty of additional tinder and kindling nearby to keep the fire going once it starts. The bottom chamber at the base should be left open.
Once your fire is going, the smoke will travel up the stove and exit through the wire screen at the top. The ashes will fall beneath the wire screen that’s at the bottom to collect at the lowest chamber.
You have now completed your rocket stove. You can place skillets, pots and pans alike over the top of the stove. Not only will you be able to cook anything you want over your rocket stove, you’ll also be able to heat and boil water, warm yourself up — and it’s an excellent way to keep a good fire contained.
In conclusion, the rocket stove is very inexpensive and simple to set up, and it’s also amazingly effective. Try it out. You may end up building more than one!
Have you ever constructed a rocket stove? Do you have any tips? Share them in the section below: