When rustic camping, overlanding or on an extended expedition a great way to cook efficiently using less fuel and reducing smoke in a free and sustainable, low-impact way is to build a mud stove.
Step 1: Mix Up Some Mud
We're doing this in the desert southwest so we have plenty of clay soil that makes a good stove. We first set to mixing some soil with water. You can do this by hand or have someone trample the mud with their feet. In locations that have termite mounds the clay that the termites build is especially good for mud stove construction. Some places may require mining of clay to add to the mix.
Step 2: Gather Some Sticks
We used some sustainably and legally harvested saguaro ribs this time but any sticks will work. Using green sticks is best as they don't burn off as easily the first time you cook.
Step 3: Start Forming the Mud
Into a horseshoe shape. The free arms will eventually be a pot or griddle support
Step 4: Griddle
We're using a found piece of steel as a griddle. Mud it in to place.
Step 5: Start Poking Sticks In
These will be the structure around which we'll build a chimney
Step 6: Make a TeePee With the Sticks
Step 7: Pack Mud Around the Sticks
It's not 100%vital that you protect all the sticks from fire but you do want them to hold the structure long enough so it has time to dry.
Step 8: Keep Building Up!
Step 9: Make Sure to Leave a Gap at the Top for Exhaust
At this point you can start smoothing the outside of the stove. After the sticks burn off the top of the stove can be molded to hold a pot for higher heat. Upon completion the stove can immediately be cooked over
Step 10: Build a Fire and Start Cooking!
Cleaner burning. Contained fire at 0 material cost?! Brilliant. This works best in primitive and survival living conditions. A modified version of this can be made on a raised platform to make it easier on the cook.