The wood stove category is more varied than most people think. There are plain old wood stoves, new-fangled wood-gas stoves, rocket stoves, and stoves that integrate kettles. Below is a breakdown and description of the different types. Keep in mind that this website is geared towards trekkers. There are multiple ways to design all of these stove types, but I focus on the most relevant for my audience.
The standard wood stove is basically a platform with walls that contains the fire, directs the flames, allows airflow into the base of the fire, and provides support for your pot. They are normally made from sheet metal. Also, they usually either come apart to pack flat, or they employ hinges to do so. Because they focus the energy from the fire, they are going to be more efficient than an open camp fire.
- Smallest when packed
- Least efficient
Wood Gas Stoves
Wood Gas stoves are more efficient and cleaner burning than a normal wood stove. This means that you can cook your meal with less wood, your pots won’t get as sooty, and the smoke won’t be as bad. They accomplish this by adding a stream of heated air into the combustion chamber just above the fire. This heated air burns off a lot of the remaining hydrocarbons in the smoke. The result is more heat and less soot. If you look at any of the wood gas stoves, you will be able to see this in the design. There is normally a double wall around the fire chamber. Air enters the space between the two walls at the bottom, heats up as it travels upwards, and enters the chamber via holes drilled into the inner wall.
This phenomenon won’t take effect until the stove is hot, so any wood gas stove will act like a normal stove until it warms up, and then it will begin to operate efficiently.
As you can imagine from the description above, wood gas stoves are complicated. They involve more metal and pieces than a normal wood stove, and they need to be built in very specific shapes. This means that they will always take more space to pack than a normal wood stove.
- Burns Clean
- Packs larger than wood stoves
- Normally heavier
Rocket stoves are built around a bent, insulated cylinder. The idea is that the cylinder gets extremely hot which allows for a more complete combustion of the gases flowing through it. The cylinder creates a strong draft which draws air and also increases the rate of combustion. Unfortunately, rocket stoves need to be larger and heavier than most trekkers will accept, which is why there aren’t any commercial examples on this website. There are some homemade versions that look like they might be light enough though.
For the most part, rocket stoves are suitable when weight is not all that important. On a boat trip, for example.
Volcano Kettles are made of a base, where the fire is lit, and a double walled kettle that sits on top. The flame goes up the center, and the water fills the area between the inner and outer walls. Because of the huge surface area, heat transfer occurs quickly and efficiently. Using a volcano kettle, you can boil water as quickly as with a liquid fuel or canister stove.
A lesser talked about advantage of a volcano kettle is that the surface exposed to flame is internal. That means that you never have to deal with sooty pots getting your hands and gear dirty.
These stoves are fantastic water boilers. They are poor choices for cooking though.
- Great water boilers
- Poor choice for cooking