In the aftermath of a disaster, such as a tornado, purifying drinking water may be a priority. The quickest, safest method could be boiling. Here’s how to make an effective stove out of salvaged materials.
by Leon Pantenburg
The tornado, hurricane, flood or earthquake passed, and you’re thankful to be alive. But because the bridges are out or the highways are clogged with debris, immediate help may not be possible. Water sources would probably be unsafe, and people need to stay hydrated.
CLEAN WATER – You must boil any water in a disaster zone. For that you need fire and a stove. See my instructions below on how to build a rocket stove from salvage debris.
You can also filter your water for safe drinking or cooking. I recommend a LifeStraw that uses gravity to ensure you have safe water for the whole family. Keep it in your car survival kit or bug-out bag.
EATING – One of the most important things you can do after the chaos and emergency has passed is to calm your family and neighbors by setting up a make-shift “kitchen” and cook a big pot of chili to help support the clean up. The spot is great for gathering the crew, giving thanks and being reminded that the most important thing is each other’s safety. If you have dried beans, some canned tomatoes and seasonings, you have the makings for a big pot of chili.
COOKING – Recently, I posted a video showing how to make a biomass stove from four concrete blocks, a tin can with both ends cut out and a gas stove eyelet top. The completed stove is sturdy enough to hold a several-gallon container of water, stew or a heavy cast iron Dutch oven.
But a couple readers/viewers commented they had trouble making or finding a three-sided block. I bought mine from the local masonry store, and getting one was not a problem.
But suppose the only materials available must be salvaged from a damaged building? How will you come up with that three-sided block configuration? What if there isn’t such a block in the wall?
I been experimenting with different configurations of this stove, and here’s what I came up with. To make this “new and improved” block rocket stove, here’s what you need:
- Three single cavity blocks. It doesn’t matter what size they are, as long as they’re uniform.
- Nine standard-sized bricks.
- Gas stove eyelet grill, or metal screen for covering the opening.
- One 2-1/2 size tin can, both ends removed and folded, to insert in the fuel intake. A tall can, such as the type used for juice, works great.
- A container for boiling water or pot for cooking.
- WATCH THE VIDEO TO SEE FULL INSTRUCTIONS
If you have to buy these materials at Lowes in Central Oregon, the bricks will cost 58 cents each, the blocks go for about $1 each, and the eyelet and can could be salvaged. Total cost would be under $9. If you can salvage the materials, there is no cost.
This stove is designed to get you through an emergency. Concrete blocks are not the best material for a stove, but they will work on a short term basis. If you want to make a permanent stove using this pattern, use fired clay field tiles or chimney flue. Another good idea might be to build a mound of dirt around the stove, leaving ventilation open for added insulation.
Survival knowledge and practical skills don’t weight anything and you can take them anywhere. Learn this simple stove design and technique, and you may have increased your survival chances dramatically!