Under $20 Rocket Stove/Heater





Introduction: Under $20 Rocket Stove/Heater

What if you were faced with no electricity for an extended period of time, or maybe your an outdoorsy kind of person, or you just like DIY projects, no matter which you are this is the Instructable for you. This is a device that anyone can make and have on hand to use to cook on efficiently or stay warm with only using twigs, no need for large pieces of firewood. Its very lightweight,less than 5 pounds, and can be built with things that can be easily attained. But rather than bore you with the description lets get to the building.

Step 1: Tools and Materials

These are the tools you will need to build this Rocket Stove.

* Metal Snips
* Drill and 5/16 drill bit
* Hammer

The Materials.

* 1 gallon paint can ($4.89)
* 3" 90 degree vent pipe ($3.49)
* 3" vent pipe 4' long ($3.19)
* Clay kitty litter ($1.50)

Step 2: Cut the Hole in the Side of the Can.

Trace and cut a hole in the side of your can to match the diameter of the elbow. (HINT trace the outline of the elbow on a piece of paper, and cut it out to use as a template, it will conform to the shape of the can and be easier to trace on the can). Use a drill to drill a small pilot hole to start your cut with the snips. Once it is cut out test fit the elbow to make sure it fits, by sliding it into the can and sticking out if the hole.

Step 3: The Top

Trace the pipe onto the lid and cut out the same way that you cut out the can. Take the 2' peice and cut a 2" section from the bottom, push that through the hole that you cut on the lid. **An extra step that you can do is insulate it by pouring cheap clay kitty litter in the can around the elbow.** Place the lid on and now you have a rocket stove.

Step 4: The End

This is what it should look like. I made a tray to slide in to hold the sticks a little better, but that is totally optional. Now just add some sticks through the side and light them up, as the fire goes down just add more sticks. You can sit a pan above it and cook, or use it to create heat, it heats vey fast and can boil water in about 2 minutes. And feel free to use whatever materials that you have on hand, this design will work with anything you may have that is similar to the materials.

Brave the Elements Contest

Second Prize in the
Brave the Elements Contest



    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Game Life Contest

      Game Life Contest

    48 Discussions


    2 years ago

    This is a great design! I would only suggest to toss your pieces into a fire before assembling them. This is to burn off the galvanized coating. All those pieces you used will have been galvanized. You don't want to be near any heated metal that has a galvanized coating on it as it off gasses and is poisonous. Look up Zinc Fever. Other than that, ingenious use of commonly accessible materials.

    5 replies

    Galvanizing is a coating of zinc, (a heavy metal not quite as toxic as lead) I doubt that putting it in a fire would remove it. The vaporization temperature is surely much higher than a small bonfire.

    Galvanization occurs at 840 °F (449 °C). Campfire temperatures generally average 1,571 °F.

    Using galvanized metal is a bad idea.

    these get intense almost blast furnace like. Use proper stuff no problemo. cost a tad more not a big deal!

    I wonder about the dangers. I know they are real, zinc poisoning is not uncommon in foundry workers and some welders, but according to some you need a lot of heat for a while to burn off the zincoplate.

    My son't scout troop makes roasted turkey in garbage cans...all metal cans...zinco coated. The zinc coat must be gone and no one ever suffered an issue. But who knows.

    Discretion is good and one can get "black iron" flue and elbows, from Ace or any good hardware shop. Cost about the same.

    Thats why I did a test burn in the video, burns of the galvanizing.

    Southeast MIH, this stove reminds me of the pot belly stove the military once used. They were basically the same and ran off wood or a drip fuel system. Drip fuel was very dangerous as many Soldiers burned their eye browse trying to light the stoves. I like the idea because it is good as an emergency stove or like a survival type of stove that can be loaded up in a vehicle and used outdoors. You can add bolts on the bottom of the can as you did on the top to help the can cool down quicker once your done. I also like the idea of the slide tray to help the wood/twigs burn better. You could probably find some caps for the top and side pipes and this way you can store the stove filled with twigs, sticks, moss, and matches so its all in a sealed kit. I will add this idea to my emergency/survival kit project folder for future builds. Good video and thanks for the metal sheer explanation. The military taught me about sheet metal work but they never said anything about the different types of metal sheers. Maybe the different sheers were invented after the 80's or the military just wanted us to make do with what we got? Good instructable!

    Zinc can make you sick...now say it s l o w l y, zinc CAN make you sick! Injesting too much of it may not be good for you. Now that that is out of the way lets deal with the reality as it applies to THIS project. A rocket stove gets HOT but it isn't hot like the temperatures involved in welding. I doubt that you could get that kind of heat short of installing a forced air system on it and in that case the interior pipe would melt down and the stove would collapse. For decades most water was delivered to your home in pipes that were galvanized (coated in Zinc). The chances of you encountering toxicity with this set up are very tiny. Nice IBLE I like this design. It is easy enough for even the challenged to manage. . I put vermiculite in mine but it was heavier made. Yours will probably benefit from the weight. By the way IF you are ever welding Galvanized metal you need to drink milk. It helps. I think it absorbs the zinc and helps with the headache. Been there done that more than once.

    1 reply

    thanks for the tip. i never knew

    Nice project, well written :-) I might try it as substitute for my camping gas burner.

    Please allow me 2 questions:
    - Does it add any value to solder the parts together (--> more stable)?
    - may rockwool be used as insulation (--> less weigth)?


    1 reply

    solder melts because the stove gets reasonably soft. i would braze it or just leave it


    Why the silly arguments. Zn vapor, as ZnO can cause something called "Metal Fume Fever". Signs include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, chills, muscle pain, etc. It generally starts some hours after exposure and can last 24 hours. No long term effects are listed.

    Zinc is not dangerous. Zinc is not dangerous. Zinc is not dangerous. It is not a toxic heavy metal, like lead. You need zinc to live. No zinc, you die. Zinc fumes can be a problem if you *boil* zinc. If you manage to boil zinc with this design, you're clearly working with a more forgiving set of the laws of thermodynamics than the rest of us. Now, say it again with me, everyone: "Zinc is not dangerous. Zinc is not dangerous. Zinc is not dangerous...." COME BACK ZINC!!!


    2 years ago

    Awesome Job - Simple and Effective. I am going to make with my 13 year old over the holidays!!

    was thinking for the insulation you could use vehicle exhaust wrap in the Flue it adds to the build cost but would increase efficiency !!


    2 years ago

    Why not save the money and make the Rocket stove out of tin cans? Made with the appropriate sized cans it is not only free but it keeps the tin cans out of the landfills. I have made a lot of them from small backpack size to ones you can boil 5 gallons of water on. Pearlite alone is the best I have used so far. And I am sure we both agree it is fun to use natural fuel for making tea or cooking out doors which was my favorite use for them.

    Next one you makeuse black metal ungalvanized pipe/duct, (for stoves in the house). I made the error like you did and I have used it, but one day will remake it. Yours looks great. I humbly suggest NO pearlite/sand mixture, it is too heavy and conducts heat. I know it is used as insulation, but this is a device that perhaps you need/want a more efficient energy transfer as you are using small bits of wood. Some people use wood ash, it is light and fluffy and with a tight stove it lasts and lasts. I have no wood ash so I used fiberglass. It can stink the first few times of use as the oils burn off, but not a major health issue. Mine stopped after 1 burn.

    Also consider a air shield kinda like the stove equavilent to a marksman's bloop tube. Make the sleeve so it goes 3/4 of the way up the pot. It begins just below the flame ring. It allows the heat to hug the walls of the pot and stops cross winds from affecting flame, literally blowing the heat away.

    be very careful putting any dampened materials in a contained

    heat system you will get steam....also why its dangerous to use old stovepipes that may have been left outdoors they can explode if the insulation inside is wet....fyi....


    " (HINT trace the outline of the elbow on a piece of paper, and cut it out to use as a template, it will conform to the shape of the can and be easier to trace on the can)."

    True, but the hole won't be round.