Friday, October 2, 2009

Survival Stove

What if, for a period of time, you had to live as if you were in an impoverished area of a third-world country? What if electricity and natural gas were not available as a cooking fuel, and you were forced to cook over a wood fire?

Large parts of the world actually live that way, and Aprovecho Research Center ( decided to help improve the situation. In the process, they came up with what I believe is a great survival stove. It burns wood or charcoal (or roots, crop residue, or other dry biomass), so you can operate it on twigs, scraps of lumber, bits of charcoal or other combustible materials. It has handles that make it easily portable. And my tests demonstrated that it is very efficient — the fire starts quickly and burns vigorously on very little fuel. Air flow is controlled by via a sliding door below the combustion chamber.

The stove was invented by Dr. Larry Winlarski, in an effort to provide impoverished populations with a better way to cook. The unit is designed with an internal clay brick chimney that focusses the heat up through a narrow channel, unlike an open fire that allows the heat to dissipate in all directions.

The Wood-Charcoal model ($40) allows you to burn sticks that rest on the fuel shelf and get pushed into the fire as the burning end is consumed. If you're using charcoal, it is loaded into the combustion chamber and ignited from above. The metal ring on top is a pot skirt that improves efficiency. 


  1. This seems like a great stove! How does it fare on charcoal? What happens if you fill it up to the top with charcoal and top light it? The thing I am wondering about is that you can take your own charcoal with you when camping.


  2. Charcoal works great. You don't need to fill the stove all the way to the top. Charcoal lasts longer as a fuel than fresh wood, so a little goes a long way. You can always add more by dropping in pieces from the top while the stove is working. Take your own charcoal when you go camping. If you find wood to burn, you can choose to use that and save the charcoal.

  3. It's very exiting to find your blog. Aw, this is a really quality post. In theory I'd like to write like this too - taking time and real effort to make a good article... but what can I say... I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.