Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Building a Rocket Stove

On Saturday I had the opportunity to head out with a small group of students to build a rocket stove for a widow in the community, something that I knew hardly anything about when the day started.  Good news for us was that a national who is on staff with RVA was going along to show us what to do. 

View from the widow's house, which was inaccessible by road.
Deforestation is a big issue here in the hills of Kijabe with people slipping into the forest to illegally cut down trees to make charcoal to sell to people who use it to cook their evening meals.  Rocket stoves are one of those win-win devices because they help reduce the pressure on the forest by consuming significantly less fuel and they also help people save money because they don't have to purchase as much charcoal.

The clay core of the stove.
What I really love about rocket stoves is how nearly all of the materials to make it are available to just about anyone.  We used dirt from the widow's yard, ash from her fire, water, and a stalk from a banana tree.  We brought sawdust with us, but we could have used dried grass.  The one critical piece that has to be purchased is the core of the stove, but it is a piece of clay and not too expensive.

Mixing all of the materials together was fun, but the real party started when we added water to make the mud.
Here is the source of water for the house.

Mixing the mud!

 After the mud base was put down, the core was set on and leveled.  The banana stalk was then put in.  Then mud was added around these two parts.  When the mud dries, the banana stalk will also dry and shrink so that it can be pulled out leaving a hole where fuel can be added when cooking.

Setting the core and the banana stalk.

Smoothing the completed stove.

The students with the final stove (the blocks on the left were the old cooking area).

While the stove is done, it will not be ready to use until it dries - about 3 weeks.  The students want to go back at that time and see the stove in action.

I told CrazyMom about how great the rocket stoves are, but for now she is still wanting to cook inside on her gas stove.