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How to: An easy way to fire up your rocket stove

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It’s easy to build a rocket stove, but it is sometimes a challenge to light one. Here’s an easy method.

by Leon Pantenburg

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A properly- constructed rocket stove will produce an efficient cooking flame, using a fraction of the fuel of a regular campfire.

A properly- constructed rocket stove will produce an efficient cooking flame, using a fraction of the fuel of a regular campfire.

A rocket stove’s design is based on the premise that it can make the most efficient use of small pieces of biomass. And if that stove is constructed correctly, it will use a fraction of the fuel of a campfire, and produce a hot cooking flame using essentially trash biomass.

But a few folks have mentioned problems in getting the fire going in the stove in the first place.

A fire needs three things: fuel, heat and oxygen to burn. When any of these is missing or inadequate, the fire won’t go. The challenge with a rocket stove is that the combustion chamber is small, and it is sometimes difficult to get that initial blaze going. I think the most common problem is stuffing the combustion chamber too full, too soon

Here’s one way to quickly light a rocket stove.

  • Ignition: Use my go-to standard cotton balls and petroleum jelly for a firestarter, and use a ferrocerium rod to light it. You can use any sort of flame device you prefer, but use a simple, compact firestarter that will burn for several minutes.
Find the driest biomass materials possible to light the fire.

Find the driest biomass materials possible to light the fire.

  • Gather dry wood: Find the driest biomass objects you can find. Look for pitchwood, dried bark and small twigs on trees. Generally, the biomass you find on the forest floor won’t be the best quality fire material.
  • Place the firestarter on a larger stick or piece of wood, ignite it, and shove it into the center of the combustion chamber.
  • Poke some smaller sticks in on either side. Don’t stuff the fire box too full or you will reduce the oxygen flow.
  • Drop other biomass items down the chimney, being careful not to put too much in. Don’t smother your initial fire.
  • Let the fire get going well, then feed it as needed.

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