Four Letters Re: Rocket Stove

MW,

I don’t have any experience with the “Zoom Versa” rocket stove, but I currently own a “Stovetec” single door rocket stove.

I believe the Zoom is built to look like the Stovetec but don’t know this for sure. (I don’t have any financial interest in Stovetec, but do love the thing.)

I’ve used ours only in the backyard with the grand kids. We’ve found it to be very effective using small, otherwise “junk” sized pieces of wood to cook almost anything. I have used small pots, stock pots, woks, and other skillets on ours. ANY rocket type stove does take frequent tending of the fire. I’ve found ours to have a great firebrick-type interior and works at least as well as advertised.

You can also do an Internet or Youtube search for “16 brick rocket stove” to build your own. This may be especially helpful if you don’t need to travel with it.

As for the overall review, I wish I had three more of them, but other items are higher on my list right now. – C.M.

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Hugh,

I have used the Versa Rocket stove, and it works just fine using just about any form of biomass.

It is definitely not a backpacking stove and not the only option (or the lightest option) out there for rocket stoves. It does a good job of cooking, and puts out very little smoke due to its efficiency. The lower door on the front is for regulating the air you allow to get in there, and if you take the time you can tune it to be very efficient for your environment. Due to the efficiency of the burn there is very little ash output. You can also cook using barbecue briquettes, if you don’t have wood. The top of the stove looks a bit like a kitchen range top and provides space for gases to escape while you have a pot on top cooking. While you shouldn’t cook with this stove in a tent or other enclosed area, once the fire is out, you could move the stove into a shelter and the insulating layer will continue to put off some heat as the unit cools. The carry handles are nice, but the wood stand is an extra piece you have to carry separately, and the stove is a little cumbersome. Durability is good overall as long as you don’t drop it, as the insulating layer can break and crumble and the metal can dent. They have different models of the Eco Zoom stove out there. One comes with a ceramic insulator (very strong, but can break if dropped) and one with a lightweight ceramic fiber insulation. Both work well, but the ceramic one will hold heat longer inside.

If you would like to try a rocket stove to see how they work you can find videos online for how to make your own. Here are links to a couple versions:

$12 rocket stove using a paint bucket, some pvc drain pipe, and fiber reinforced concrete mixed with vermiculite.

#10 can rocket stove using a #10 can, 3 smaller cans, and vermiculite.

Rocket Stove using 16, 20, or 24 bricks.. – M.B.

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Hugh,

I have the predecessor to the Zoom Versa. Mine is called the StoveTec Rocket stove. It is essentially the same stove in form, fit, and function. It is filled with fire brick, so it is not packable, but it is portable enough to take car camping or picnicking or barbecuing. The stove works great, consumes relatively little fuel, and I have a pot that is custom made for it that increases the cooking efficiency. In function, they work very similar to a shallow Dakota hole with a good draft, except that once the burn chamber is up to temp, you get more efficient combustion resulting in less sooting and greater output heat. The stove is rugged enough, but I would not want to drop it for fear that the firebrick would bust. It will work well with charcoal or scrap wood, but the wood should be seasoned for best effect, as one would expect. It is relatively easy to get a fire going in it due to the natural draft design. There are a lot of these stoves deployed around the world as StoveTec had quite a campaign for third world markets. I believe they had a giant barrel-sized version that was deployed to Haiti after the big earthquake there, so people could disinfect water as well as cook community meals. Bottom line: This is a most functional design and a great survival tool. – BSP

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Regarding the March 7th article on rocket stoves, the Zoom Versalooks almost identical to the Stovetec. I have used the Stovetec and am very pleased with it. You should mention the Saratoga Jack thermal cooker in conjunction with the rocket stove, as they work marvelously together. I boiled water on the rocket stove and placed it in the thermal cooker. Thirteen hours later, the water was at 140 degrees. – M.B.

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