Keeping it real – keeping it warm

Fall is here, that means winter is just around the proverbial corner. For most of us, that means having to keep our homes warm in some manner. For us, that means using our wood burning stove that PB designed and built himself when we lived back in the city and had access to a friend’s metal shop. It’s all made out of 3/16 plate steel with schedule 40 steel pipe for the flue (we aren’t afraid of flue fires). He poured about an inch and a half of refractory cement in the bottom. It serves double duty when I want to cook something on top of it, it makes great tortillas and pizza.  The whole thing weighs in at around 200 pounds, I am still amazed at the fact that PB managed to get it inside the skycastle without any help, up to the second floor (our living space) that didn’t have steps yet, we used a ladder to get in and out.

I tried to get someone to help, while I was down at our neighbor’s house making phone calls, PB was up at the skycastle getting the job done himself, he waited until I was gone then went to work using a wench and pulley system, by the time I came back up the hill, he had it in the skycastle and already set into position, almost ready to go. He experimented with different ways to keep the wind from blowing the smoke back into the room and keeping any stray embers from getting away. Here are some pix of our wood stove:

This is the original top on the chimney, the paint can was used to keep the wind from blowing back down the chimney.
This is our current chimney setup, you can also see our solar panels on the roof. And as you can tell, much of the roof is recycled/reclaimed metal.


























Rocket Stoves

I learned about rocket stoves some years ago, and have wanted to build one ever since, though I haven’t been able to get PB on board for it, I’m still interested.  Rocket stoves work on the principal of burning smaller amounts of wood, very hot and very fast, it creates a complete burn, so there is little smoke and it very efficient. Here is a classic video teaching how to make a rocket stove

Since learning about the rocket stove, there is another way of incorporating a rocket stove design into a thermal mass rocket stove. This combines the rocket stove’s ability to use less wood and complete burn with a thermal mass to hold the heat being generated and slowly allow the heat to permeate the space being heated. More and more people are incorporating this into their homes as well as greenhouses and other spaces needing heat. Here are a few videos showing the concept, design and the actual units being built and used.

This one incorporates a rocket mass heater into a greenhouse.











There are lots of other videos on YouTube showing different ways of making rocket stoves and thermal mass rocket stove heaters, some are even incorporated into outdoor pizza ovens as well as water heaters.

Rocket Mass Heaters: Superefficient Woodstoves YOU Can Build

The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for your most valuable information. I’m in Montana, wondering how to keep things from freezing; preserved jams, liquids, oils, lotions and the like, when I leave my off-grid cabin for a couple days. I do not as yet have a root cellar.

    1. Hi Lori, thanks for your comment, I don’t know how cold it gets where your cabin is, I assume it gets colder (and stays colder) than it does where I live, perhaps you could use a propane heater on a low setting, do you have any electricity from solar or such? If so, maybe you could use one of those low wattage pet bed heaters, or even leaving a 100 watt light bulb on. I will say from experience, only water freezes at 32 degrees F, other liquids usually have lower freezing points. If you have a closet, pantry or even a box to keep the things you want to keep from freezing and use one of the items I suggested (pet bed warmer or light bulb), that way you don’t have to keep a whole cabin or whole room warm. Hope that helps. Oh, if you have or know someone who has an old, non working fridge or freezer, you can store your stuff in that and try to keep that space warm instead of trying to warm an entire room.


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