Rocket Stove DIY: How to Build the Perfect Cooking Fire

April 27, 2023

Cooking over an open fire has been a part of human culture since the beginning of time. With advances in technology, there are more efficient and eco-friendly ways to cook over an open flame. One of these ways is by building a rocket stove. In this article, we will discuss how to build the perfect cooking fire with a DIY rocket stove.

History of Rocket Stoves

Rocket stoves were first developed in the 1980s by Dr. Larry Winiarski, who was working with refugees in Guatemala. The concept was to create a stove that used less wood, produced less smoke, and was portable. The design was based on a rocket engine, which burns fuel on a vertical plane, creating a hotter and more efficient flame.

Benefits of Using a Rocket Stove

There are several benefits to using a rocket stove for cooking:

  • Efficiency - Rocket stoves use less fuel and produce more heat than traditional open fires.
  • Environmental - Rocket stoves produce less smoke and carbon emissions, making them more eco-friendly.
  • Cost-effective - Rocket stoves can be made from inexpensive materials and save money on fuel costs.
  • Portability - Rocket stoves are lightweight and easy to transport, making them great for camping or outdoor cooking.

Materials Needed to Build a Rocket Stove

Building a rocket stove is a relatively simple process, and the materials needed are readily available. You will need:

  • 55-gallon drum
  • Flat piece of steel
  • Insulating materials, such as perlite, vermiculite, or ceramic fiber blanket
  • Bricks or cinder blocks
  • Metal pipe or chimney
  • Tin snips or a metal saw
  • Drill with a hole saw bit

Step-by-step Guide to Building a Rocket Stove

Step 1: Preparing the Drum

First, you need to prepare the 55-gallon drum. Using a hole saw bit, drill a large hole near the bottom of the drum. This hole will serve as the combustion chamber. Next, drill several smaller holes around the top of the drum, which will serve as the air intake.

Step 2: Cutting and Bolting the Steel Plate

Using tin snips or a metal saw, cut a flat piece of steel to fit over the top of the drum. This piece of steel will serve as the heat shield. Once cut, bolt the steel plate onto the drum, leaving a small gap between them.

Step 3: Insulating the Drum

Now, it's time to insulate the drum. Using perlite, vermiculite, or ceramic fiber blanket, fill the gap between the drum and steel plate. This insulation will protect the drum from getting too hot and help to retain heat.

Step 4: Building a Base

Next, you need to build a base for the rocket stove. Use bricks or cinder blocks to create a stable platform. The height of the base should be equal to the height of the drum.

Step 5: Creating a Chimney

To create a chimney, insert a metal pipe into the combustion chamber hole. The pipe should extend above the heat shield and connect to the chimney. The chimney can be made from metal or masonry materials.

Step 6: Building the Fire

To build the fire, start by placing kindling and small pieces of wood in the combustion chamber. Light the fire, and once it's burning, add larger pieces of wood.

Step 7: Cooking

Once the fire is burning, you can start cooking. Place a pot or pan on top of the heat shield, and adjust the air intake as needed. The rocket stove should be more efficient than a traditional open fire, and you should be able to cook your food with less fuel and less smoke.


Building a rocket stove is a fun and rewarding DIY project. It's a great way to save money on fuel costs, reduce your carbon footprint, and enjoy outdoor cooking. By following this step-by-step guide, you can build the perfect cooking fire with a DIY rocket stove.



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I enjoy designing and curating experiences both virtually and in 3-dimensional reality. I have a Bachelor of Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology and currently practice professionally, but I also manage a few other ventures.
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