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How To Build Your Own Tiny Rocket Stove

Updated on July 8, 2014

What Is A Rocket Stove?

A Rocket Stove is a simple device used for cooking or heating. Because of its simplistic design and excellent high heat output it is a popular household item among low income families within underprivileged countries of the world. The stove has also become a popular favorite of many outdoors people and campers around the globe. Many different non-combustible materials such as clay, brick, stone, and steel can be used in the construction of the stove but for optimum efficiency the principle design of the combustion chamber style within the Rocket Stove must be maintained. The Rocket Stove must have an open fuel feed chute that connects with a chimney rising up out of it - this intersection acts as combustion chamber and its open design allows unrestricted air flow both in and out providing the fire with endless amounts of oxygen.The smokestack ascending out of the fire box becomes the heat source when the fire is burning.The chimney is then enclosed in a fashioned heat ex-changer which contains excess heat and dissipates it more slowly within the immediate vicinity of the stove creating a radiant heat source.

Rocket Stove Build Tutorial

Rocket Stove

Adding fuel into the combustion chamber.
Adding fuel into the combustion chamber.

Internal View

Adding small wood fuel into the combustion chamber through the fuel feed inlet.
Adding small wood fuel into the combustion chamber through the fuel feed inlet.

Step One

For this project you will first need to gather a few materials and some common household tools. Ideally you will want three different sized tin cans. Most of us have these products in our recycle bin. A small soup can for a fuel chute, a larger vegetable or fruit can for a chimney, and a clean 1 gallon paint can or bulk food tin for a heat ex-changer should be sufficient. You will also need a top plate for your Rocket Stove and you can get that material from any thin gauged scrap tin product that you may have lying around. The paint can lid, or the top from the bulk food can will work just fine as long as it is thin enough to be cut with your tin-snips. You will need tin-snips, a pair of pliers, a small drill with a 3/8" diameter drill bit, a straight edge, and a marking pen that will mark on tin. Once you have all these materials gathered together with your tools you are ready to start your build.

Tools And Materials

You will need three varying size tin cans and a few common hand tools.
You will need three varying size tin cans and a few common hand tools.

Preparing The Tin Cans

Small tin can with both ends removed.
Small tin can with both ends removed.

Making Holes In The Tin Cans

Drill 3/8" diameter hole to give your tin-snips a place to start the cut.
Drill 3/8" diameter hole to give your tin-snips a place to start the cut.

Step Two

This is where all the fun stuff starts. You begin by first removing the bottom from your smallest soup can. The top is already likely gone if it is a recycled tin can. I try to remove the bottom leaving the factory rim ring because it stabilizes the tin sides of the can. You accomplish this simply by drilling a hole in the very bottom end and of the can and then using your tin snips to cut around the inside of the existing flange. After you have removed the bottom end use the pliers to bend the sharp remaining edge outward to the side wall of the soup can lessening the potential danger of cutting yourself when handling the tin. Then place the small can just above the bottom flange of the mid sized can and trace the circumference of the small can onto the side of the mid sized can. Again we drill a starting hole on the mid sized can just inside the circle that we traced. Now cut with the tin-snips about 1/8" inside of the traced line making a circular hole in the side of the mid sized can slightly smaller than the traced can.

Step Three

Next we take our pliers and bend the tin outward all around the circle that we traced on the mid sized can. This produces a larger hole in the side of the mid sized can matching the correct circumference of the small can and gives us a flange of extra tin which could be bent over to the small can after installation closing any gaps you might have if the hole is too large in places. Then we repeat this procedure on our large tin can, however, we make the hole up higher from the bottom rim of the large can leaving a minimum of one inch of room under the mid sized can for an insulating medium. Keep the maximum height of the mid sized can no higher than the top of the large tin can so the top plate will sit securely on the top rim of the large can. Many earth type materials such as small pebbles, small rocks, sand or clay will work for an insulator for your Rocket Stove heat ex-changer. We will use sand in our project.

Preparing The Holes

Cut the holes a little smaller than the circumference of the smallest can and then crimp a flange around the hole with the pliers making the hole the correct size.
Cut the holes a little smaller than the circumference of the smallest can and then crimp a flange around the hole with the pliers making the hole the correct size.

Putting It All Together

Assembling the Rocket Stove.
Assembling the Rocket Stove.

Step Four

We now assemble our Rocket Stove fuel chamber and chimney [creating the combustion chamber] inside the large tin can and then we add our insulating medium - sand. Begin by inserting the bottom end of the smallest soup can through the hole you cut in the side wall of the largest can. Then put the mid sized vegetable can with the open end up inside the top opening of the large can and insert the small can about 1/2" through the hole in its side wall. This connection creates the stoves combustion chamber at the intersection of the small and mid sized tin cans - fuel chute and chimney. Now with the three cans joined securely together by the smaller tin can inserted through the side holes of the mid sized tin can and the large tin can position the center can so it has equal clearance around its circumference from the side of the large can - center the mid sized tin can inside the large tin can. With the center tin can positioned allowing clearance on all sides and an inch of space on the bottom we add our insulating sand. As we pour the sand between the walls of the center can and the outer can we shake the large tin can slightly to cause the sand to flow into all the cavities under the small and mid sized tin cans. Now our Rocket Stove will be complete with the addition of a top plate.

Forming The Top Plate

Top plate with holes and positioning tabs.
Top plate with holes and positioning tabs.

Final Step

Building the top plate is the last step in completing our Rocket Stove project. We start with a lite gauge piece on tin preferably an inch or so larger than the diameter of the large tin can. As long as the plate sits on the rim of the heat ex-changer can it will be sufficient. The tin should, however, be thin enough that you can cut it with your tin-snips. I like to position the large can in the center of the top plate and trace around it giving me a reference line for laying out the burner holes and positioning tabs. Then I locate the exact center of the plate and with a straight edge draw a cross from side to side marking the center of all four outer edges for locating the tabs. Drawing one more circle in the exact center the diameter of the chimney will give a guide for drilling a series of 3/8" diameter holes for the burner. Once we have all of our marks on the plate we can begin to drill many holes in the center of the plate directly above the chimney. These holes will allow the heat from the combustion chamber to rise up the chimney and through the holes making it a burner surface. After the holes are completed we cut our positioning tabs on all four sides of the plate. With our tin-snips we cut approximately 1/4" away on both sides of the center mark that we made on the four edges of out plate earlier. Cut up to the large tin can circumference mark on our plate. With the tabs cut on all four sides of the plate we can take our pliers and bend the 1/2" wide tab until it is perpendicular to the plate. After bending the four tabs we can set the plate on the top rim of the large tin can and it will be held in position securely. Your Rocket Stove is done! Wasn't that interesting and fun?

Questions or Comments?

I welcome all your questions and comments as well as any suggestions or ideas of your own. Please contact me through any of my links with any input that you desire to contribute. I enjoy hearing from everyone.

Thank you

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    • jponiato profile image

      jponiato 3 years ago from Mid-Michigan

      Well, I'm going to try this, thanks!

    • BEEZKNEEZ profile image

      BEEZKNEEZ 4 years ago

      Thanks for the great idea for a rocket stove. Voted up!