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What Is A Rocket Stove? How Do They Work? 19 Frequently Asked Questions

by Kyle Klaver May 25, 2022

What Is A Rocket Stove?

Rocket stoves may have an interesting name, but they aren’t the most well known stove out there.

Yet, the rocket stove is loved for its high efficiency, when compared to a traditional stove. These unusual stoves are quite handy to have due to being so portable.

In this article, we have put together the 19 most commonly asked questions about rocket stoves.

Rocket Stove: What Is It?

Generally, any rocket stove will use very small pieces of wood as its fuel source. It is known that this stove will burn and reach extremely high temperatures.

Experts have come to the conclusion that rocket stoves are much more efficient compared to a traditional stove.

This is because rocket stoves include a combustion chamber. In this chamber, the fuel and wood burns into a vertical chimney. It is the vertical chimney that makes the stove so efficient.

This is due to the chimney also being insulated, so all the heated air will move in the same direction.

In addition to this, the chimney is the right length and height to make sure that all the fuel has fully combusted before any flames reach the cooking area and surface.

Generally, a rocket stove is seen to be similar to a portable cooker. However, there are a few large rocket stoves available, yet these are often more commonly used in industrial settings.

Alongside that, you can get your hands on a rocket stove heater. The heater is part of the mass  rocket stove heating system.

This system can be installed in a lot of homes to provide you with an excellent and reliable heating system. 

Who Invented The Rocket Stove?

The rocket stove was invented by Larry Winiarski in 1980. Winiarski based his ideas on the heat principles that the Romans used.

Where Does The Rocket Stove Get Its Name?

To fully understand where the rocket stove got its name from, it's important that you understand how the rocket stove works. This will then make everything much clearer on how this stove got its name.

Essentially, each rocket stove will have three tubes which are connected to one another. These tubes form a J shape. The first tube has an opening, which is where you place your fuel into.

This tube is also known as the feeder tube, because once the fuel is in that tube, then the fuel will begin to burn.

Once, the fuel starts to burn, then the heat that is created will travel through the tubes, and go out of the chimney at the top of the rocket stove.

The upper sections of the rocket stove are also known as the heat rising sections. This is because the heat is rising through these sections and escaping through the chimney.

When you place the fuel in the feeder tube, there is an area between this section and the heat riser. This area has its own name, known as the burn tunnel, because it is the area where all the fuel can be seen burning away.

As a result, the flames that are caused by the wood burning in a rocket stove, then get pulled into the burning tunnel.

This action can look like a jet of fire, which you would see coming out of a real life rocket that is laughing.

As a result, this whole method of how the rocket stove works, is what has contributed to the rocket stove name.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Rocket Stove?

Around 4.3 million premature deaths are caused every year due to open fires occurring according to research conducted by the World Health Organization.

These open fires are commonly seen in underdeveloped and developing nations by families cooking their food.

We all know that fires are dangerous, but having an open fire and flame for cooking purposes is extremely dangerous. This main reason is that an open fire results in the toxic smoke produced being inhaled.

Inhaling this smoke is completely fine, if it happens once now and then. However, it starts to become a real problem and causes severe health issues if you are inhaling these fumes up to 3 times a day.

As a result, the rocket stove is the ideal solution to this issue. This is because rocket stoves don’t produce any smoke, so they are much better and healthier for the environment and atmosphere.

Alongside that, this then benefits the people cooking, as their lungs won’t be exposed to these harmful fumes

The rocket stove doesn't just have health benefits, it also provides you with some economic benefits as well.

At Williams College, Clark Semon gave a talk where he showed the audience how much more efficient the rocket stove was compared with wood and gas stoves. 

What Can You Use A Rocket Stove For?

As you can already see, the rocket stove has various uses. It can be used for cooking, heating and water heating to just name a few uses they can be used for.

The most common use for the mini rocket stove is for camping purposes and other outdoor activities. 

The rocket stove is very efficient at combusting wood to produce little to no smoke. Therefore, this makes them a great choice for cooking foods and meals, where you don’t want a smoky flavor.

Normally when you use wood as fuel it will naturally give whatever you're cooking a smoky flavor, but thankfully the rocket stove reduces this effect and flavor, so the flavor of your food isn't compromised.

This is because not all foods will benefit from an added smoky flavor, and some people just naturally don't like it either.

In addition to this, with the mini rocket stove, they don’t require much wood for them to be used. This is ideal when you are out camping, as there are plenty of small twigs on the ground which can be used as fuel.

What Sizes Are Rocket Stoves Available In?

There are various sizes that you can purchase the rocket stove in. Ranging from mini rocket stoves to much larger and industrial size rocket stoves.

To be able to  burn your wood efficiently and make sure it has combusted before the heat begins to reach the cooking area, your rocket stove has some minimum dimensions it needs to fulfill.

For mini rocket stoves, they are known to be only 6.5 inches long and 8.5 inches tall.

This tiny rocket stove is perfect for anyone who loves to go camping. Alongside this, there are even smaller rocket stoves available, which are collapsible. Thus making them the ideal portable stove to take everywhere with you.

Yet, you may want a bigger rocket stove. Well, there are some quite gigantic rocket stoves available for industrial use. Whilst also, a rocket stove heater can be used to heat homes with a high quality and safe heating system.

The huge rocket stoves can be used for heating systems, cooking and also producing warm air for naturally cold homes.

What Can You Cook With A Rocket Stove?

You can cook almost anything on a rocket stove. We would suggest you use cast iron pans, when you want to cook directly on the element. Therefore, with a rocket stove you can cook, grill and BBQ.

The only thing you can’t really do is bake a cake on a rocket stove. However, there are plenty of options for you to choose from.

Can You Use A Rocket Stove Indoors?

You can easily use a rocket stove inside, as long as they are vented with a chimney. Yet, we wouldn't really recommend that you use your rocket stove inside.

In some areas of the world, you will see rocket stoves being used as an indoor wood burning stove. This is due to the fact that rocket stoves emit very little smoke and the flames will stay within the burn tunnel of the stove.

Hence, they are much safer than some other stoves. They are also seen as a much healthier option to other methods like cooking on chiminea or on open fires/flames.

Alongside this, rocket stoves can be seen indoors for heating systems or for industrial cooking.

The larger rocket stove appliances are highly efficient and seen quite valuable for economic reasons.

Will A Rocket Stove Heat Your House?

The standard rocket stove is used just for cooking, and cannot heat your home. This is because there are very few needs required when it comes to providing heat for cooking.

In comparison to the large requirement to be able to heat a house.

With that being said, there are some rocket stoves that have been specifically designed to heat homes.

These rocket stoves are mass heaters with  a large burning tunnel with an even longer heater riser. This will then produce the radiant heat into all the rooms of your house.

Also, depending on your home's current heating system, the rocket stove mass heater is also able to warm the air in your home.

How Do Rocket Stove Heaters Work?

Rocket stove heaters are a great way to cook food or to heat up an area in your home. The rocket stove heater is also known as the rocket mass heater. The wood goes in the feeder tube, and in the burn tunnel the wood is burnt.

Then, thanks to the design of the rocket mass heater, the burn tunnel has been designed to draw in the fire that is created.

This is when the fuel is then turned into a gas. It is the gas that is pushed up towards the heat riser. In a lot of rocket mass heaters, you will have an element known as the gas bowl.

The gas bowl is a type of chamber made from metal, which forms a large bowl shape. This bowl fits around the heat riser. Then, the gas that has been caused by combustion will flow out and warm the metal surface of the gas bowl.

After that, the gas bowl will send out this heat in various directions, while heating everything nearby really efficiently.

Combustion will only happen at very high temperatures and very little smoke is produced. The common by-products that can be caused by combustion are soot and smoke.

Yet Both of these elements stay in the insulated tunnels to be combusted even more. 

Should You Use A Rocket Stove While Camping?

As we have already mentioned, rocket stoves are the ideal stove to take with you instead of a portable charcoal or gas stove/grill.

There are various rocket stoves that can be closed down, to make them even more portable while backpacking or camping.

In addition to that, rocket stoves are a great choice for camping, as you will have access to a large selection of wood to use as fuel.

Even if wood is scarce where you are, rocket stoves only require a small amount of fuel anyway.

Alongside that, rocket stoves produce very little smoke, so no nasty toxins will be produced into the air.

Do Rocket Stoves Smoke?

All rocket stoves have very little to no smoke at all. This is due to the high heats and temperatures that the fuel is burnt to.

The by-products of the combustion are stored in the insulated burn tunnel, and this helps with the combustion process.

A lot of people have claimed that the stored smoke helps the fuel burn even faster as well.

Smoke will always be a by-product of combustion, however, the gas that is produced is very clean. It is much cleaner than smoke that is produced from a typical fire.

Are Rocket Stoves Self-Feeding?

A rocket stove is a self feeling stove, because the wood will slowly sink into the burning pit as more of the wood is burnt down. It is up to you how self-feeding you make your rocket stove.

The more self-feeding you want it to be, then use longer pieces of wood you need to use. Longer pieces of wood means you will need to go to add more fuel less frequently.

How Long Will A Rocket Stove Last For?

The amount of heat produced by a rocket stove will vary depending on the model and make.

However, generally, a rocket stove can provide you with plenty of heat for long periods of time. It all depends on how much fuel you add and feed to your stove.

What Are The Highest Temperatures A Rocket Stove Can Reach?

Rocket stoves can reach temperatures much higher than a wood stove. Some studies have shown that a rocket stove could reach temperatures over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although, the majority of these stoves have been created for cooking food at sensible temperatures.

For a rocket mass heater, their exhaust temperature can be around 140 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

While the actual heating element can reach temperatures pasting 212 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the point of boiling water.

Are Rocket Stoves Worth It?

Purchasing a rocket stove is definitely worth it. They burn wood very efficiently compared to other wood burning stoves. Also, very little smoke is produced, making them heather to use. 

Will A Rocket Stove Keep You Warm?

Rocket stoves are great heaters and can keep you and your whole house warm. The larger a rocket stove is, the more heat they produce, but there are some models that have been designed for heating purposes. 

Are These Stoves Dangerous?

Overall, these stoves are very safe to use. However, the uncovered feeder turn can be dangerous. This is because you have direct access to the burn tube, which reaches extremely high temperatures.

As these stoves reach such high temperatures, you need to be aware not to touch the hot surfaces.

Otherwise, you could suffer some serious burns or injuries. Other than that, these stoves are very safe due to the limited smoke produced.

Why Should You Use These Stoves?

Rocket stoves are very efficient compared to other wood stoves and ovens. There are also compact and portable models available, which are great options for anyone who loves to go backpacking or camping. Or for anyone who has a small backyard.


There you have it, the rocket stove is a simple stove that can emit a lot of heat, but is one of the safest and cleanest stoves to use.

We have gone through the top 19 frequently asked questions when it comes to the rocket stove.

We hope you have enjoyed this article. Now you should have a much better idea on what a rocket stove is and whether you want to consider investing in one of your next camping trips.

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