Rocket stove in spring 2014
Project data
Authors Justine Cook
Location Arcata, California
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This is the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) manual for CCAT rocket stove. Please refer to it and keep it up to date with any O&M changes.

Summary[edit | edit source]

The rocket stove was built in 2007 by an ENRG 305 class using the design principles for improved cookstoves from the Approvecho Research Center. It gets moved about the CCAT grounds, but has recently been moved to a space near the cob oven by the Greenshed. It is heavily rusted and often misused. This manual provides step-by-step instructions for stove operation along with suggestions for regular and future maintenance.


Fig. 1. Example of a rocket stove model

Operation[edit | edit source]

Figure 1 illustrates the inner workings of a rocket stove.

  1. Locate a pot that will fit INSIDE of the barrel's opening at the top. It should NOT sit on the rim of the rocket stove.
  2. Make sure that the chimney is securely attached to the back of the stove
  3. Prepare kindling that is approximately 1' to 1.5' long and less than 6" in circumference. Multiple pieces should be able to fit inside the fuel feeding chamber without hanging too far out of the shelf.
  4. Place kindling or alternative fire starter inside of the fuel feeding chamber
  5. Ignite the fire
  6. Once the fire has ignited, place your pot INSIDE of the barrel
  7. As the kindling burns, push sticks into the fire, slowly feeding the fire one stick at a time
  8. While operating, be careful not to touch the top rim of the stove (the "pot skirt") as it can get very hot
  9. Feed with kindling until desired cooking result is reached, then carefully remove the pot from the stove
  10. The stove – the ceramic chamber in particular – will remain hot for sometime after use. Allow the stove to cool.
  11. Periodically clear debris out of the combustion chamber before next use
Fig. 2. Top view of rocket stove

Maintenance[edit | edit source]

Rocket stove fuel chamber
  • The rocket stove needs to be periodically cleared of its debris and cleaned out between uses. To do this, make sure that the stove is not hot. Use a brush or towel to reach inside of the fuel chamber and swipe out any debris.
  • The vermiculite inside of the barrel periodically needs to be replaced.
  • If gaps form between the combustion chamber and the metal case of the barrel, a heat-resistant sealant may be used to fill in the gaps.
  • The ceramic bricks that form the combustion chamber may need to be replaced from time to time.
  • The metal drum is prone to rusting as the stove is left outdoors. Here are steps you can take to address abundant rusting:
    • Use sandpaper to sand off the rust. Then apply a new coating of paint.
    • Scrub with vinegar using a brush or cloth, or let sections soak in vinegar overnight by wrapping the stove with vinegar-soaked cloths and rinsing in the morning. Apply a new coat of paint.
    • Mix baking soda with a little water to form a paste, rub it onto the rusted area, then scrub with a stiff plastic brush or a cloth followed by a thorough rinse. Do not use metal brushes or steel wool. Apply a new coat of paint.

Instructions[edit | edit source]

Fig. 1.1: Lid
Remove lid
Fig. 1.2: Skirt inside barrel
Remove pot skirt inside of the barrel
Fig 1.3: Sheet metal shelf
Remove the sheet metal shelf
Fig. 1.4: Barrel filled with Vermiculite
Empty vermiculite from barrel
Fig. 1.5: Vermiculite
Replace with new vermiculite

Schedule[edit | edit source]

  • Depending upon usage, combustion chamber might need to be cleaned out
  • Check vermiculite - may need to be replaced
  • Repair any rusting & repaint

Troubleshooting[edit | edit source]

This is only how to troubleshoot basic operation.

Problem Suggestion
Fuel feeding chamber seems too small Cut kindling into smaller pieces. They should only range from approximately 1' to 1.5" long and 6" in circumference.
Fire won't stay lit There may not be enough oxygen flow. Make sure you are not smothering the fire with too much kindling.

Suggestions for future changes[edit | edit source]

  • The chimney does not attach properly. This needs to be fixed.
  • The rocket stove could be kept in a covered spot - to protect it from the rain - near the cob oven where it will more likely be used during outdoor events for people to see.
  • Cosmetic touches such as a fun paint job may make the rocket stove a little more appealing to use.
  • The rocket stove is often misused. People construct the fire where the pot is intended to sit. A few simple instructions could be painted directly on the drum.
Page data
Part of Engr535 Development Technology
Type Project
Keywords ccat, cookers, rocket stoves
Authors Justine Cook
Published 2014
License CC-BY-SA-4.0
Affiliations Cal Poly Humboldt, Campus Center for Appropriate Technology (CCAT)
Derivative of CCAT rocket stove
Impact Number of views to this page and its redirects. Updated once a month. Views by admins and bots are not counted. Multiple views during the same session are counted as one. 276
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