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Build a Rocket Stove from Concrete Blocks

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I’ve had a number of people mention the possibility of concrete blocks exploding under high heat. For the safety of my readers, I’ve removed this content. 

Stay tuned, though! I’m experimenting with a brick rocket stove. 

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Meet the Author

Colleen Codekas

Colleen (and her hubby behind the scenes, Joel) run the blog Grow Forage Cook Ferment, a website that teaches about all types of homesteading endeavors, particularly related to food, herbalism, permaculture, health and self sufficiency. She loves growing and foraging for herbs and other plants, making herbal salves, cooking food from scratch, and making mead (honey wine).

30 comments… add one
  • Dean Cattell Feb 11, 2016, 6:57 pm

    Do you need to put a grate between the H Block and the top cinder block to stop the fuel from dropping into the bottom cinder block?
    Thanks

    • Colleen Codekas Feb 12, 2016, 1:44 pm

      Hi Dean. No, the grate is just used as a cooking surface. It’s ok for the fuel to go into the bottom cinder block. If you want you can turn the bottom cinder block on it’s side so that the fuel doesn’t go into it, but it’s usually not a problem. Either way, you definitely don’t want anything between the H block and the top block, as that is the space where you start and fuel the fire. Hope that makes sense!

  • Shaz Feb 11, 2016, 11:41 pm

    Hi there, thanks for this easy tutorial. I must say, with some of the pictures it’s not clear if it’s a top view or a side view?

    • Marie Raven Feb 17, 2018, 10:00 pm

      I’m having the same problem, myself. Maybe if we got the material and set it up as described it would be obvious.

  • James Davis Feb 14, 2016, 3:41 am

    I use to cook manytimes in the woods as a kid out camping. I was raised on a farm! What you show is very interesting to me!

  • Gary Mar 12, 2016, 5:25 am

    Doesn’t the heat of the fire destroy the cinder blocks?

    • Durwood M. Dugger May 8, 2019, 10:33 am

      Yes. Especially, if they are new and or damp when you use it. I have had numerous concrete block fire pits and in everyone after repeated use the blocks cracked and crumbled to chunks. Nice idea – very wrong material for implimentation.

      • Kris Bordessa May 11, 2019, 12:24 pm

        There’s a difference between cinder blocks and concrete blocks. Use concrete blocks.

  • Jason Roland Jun 30, 2016, 7:15 am

    I love this idea for outdoors or camping. Cinder blocks will never run out of uses.

  • Stacie Aug 4, 2016, 3:22 am

    We made a rocket stove out of a couple steel rims. We use it during camping and there truly is very little smoke. It burns hot and puts out a ton of heat even 4′ away.

    • Nora Oct 14, 2018, 11:41 am

      How did you do this?

  • Colleen Sep 13, 2016, 1:18 am

    Now THAT is entirely helpful. I’m going off grid soon, and I had heard of any number of ways to build this – including some very expensive options (which kind of minimalizes the idea of going off grid, doesn’t it?). This is simple enough for a clod like me to follow, and waaaay better than any hazardous material that was suggested. Thanks!

  • Maggie Oct 28, 2016, 8:21 am

    There must be something I’m missing. Is there a reason not to do the following? Leave off the bottom block that is horizontal and put the “H” block or equivalent right on the ground/paver and then feed the fuel through the bottom hole of the vertical cinder block. Is there a need for the space below the fuel feed area?

  • Doug Hargett Oct 28, 2016, 5:34 pm

    What is the purpose of the 2nd chamber (furthest from the fuel feed area) of the horizontal block? Wouldn’t the H block keep anything from entering the 2nd half of the horizontal block? Also, what keeps the pavers from falling over, or the brick?

  • StaxSunChess Feb 18, 2017, 7:38 am

    The 8″ x 16″ concrete pieces shown in this article are not pavers. They are actually called “caps” and are typically used as a finish layer at the top of a cinder block wall.

    The necessity for the correct terminology would come into play during the ordering process.

  • Ben May 10, 2017, 6:50 am

    So if you use pavers and a brick for that 2nd layer, how do you keep them from falling off? And how do you go about cleaning out the stove, just take it back apart and brush it away?

  • Bob Bigelow Jul 6, 2017, 5:51 am

    If you can’t find the “H” block, and don’t trust the caps and brick arrangement, try chipping out one end of a regular block. It’s a tricky process…to chip out the end without breaking off the side, but can be done. Wear eye protection!! And keep your mouth shut..concrete tastes terrible. Patience is the key.

    • Alan Mar 9, 2018, 3:51 pm

      Not difficult to cut with a 4″ grinder and a masonry disk.

  • Norm Hotchkiss Jul 6, 2017, 6:01 am

    I like that you can build several of these side by side. It’s a little awkward with keeping the fires going, but you could cook for many people this way.

  • Kitty Jul 6, 2017, 10:03 am

    I can’t seem to wrap my mind around this and I think it’s because you only show your photos straight on rather than from the side angle as well. I can’t figure out what your using or how to place the cinder blocks or whatever they are . please consider adding a photo of all of the elements laid out and one of the whole set up from the side in order to give a better perspective. the “building blocks photo might have each type numbered and the side version might include numbers on each block referencing the first. I can’t imagine how you’re placing these to make a stove. or where you’re putting in the fuel. maybe it’s just me but I need more help. LOL

    • Saneinaninsaneworld Apr 28, 2019, 4:43 pm

      There are several YouTube videos that provide a good understanding on the components, their functions and continuous video off ones being built with many mediums and styles. Good luck

  • Kate Dvorak Oct 13, 2017, 7:14 am

    I could not get the cinder block to work. Had to use pavers and brick, but it just didn’t draw and couldn’t keep fire in box going never mind adding. bought some kindling even. I have to BBQ grill so was hoping to use this. I wonder what’s wrong?

    • Kris Bordessa Nov 14, 2017, 8:17 am

      Sometimes these things take practice!

  • Jockosi Dec 15, 2018, 11:19 am

    Just one proper drawing of this would make it so clear! please can you do that?

    • Kris Bordessa Dec 19, 2018, 7:52 am

      I’ll put that on my list of things to consider!

  • Cheryl Turnley Mar 22, 2019, 5:16 pm

    Thank you for your excellent directions. I’ve always been dumbfounded after reading directions for using cans and it seemed like alot of cutting and fitting just to try something that made no sense to me.
    After reading these directions I grabbed a some cinder blocks, a couple of short pavers, and a brick. I had one flipped the wrong way at first but without just a few minutes I had me a rocket stove and I am one happy camper!

  • Rob Apr 19, 2019, 11:58 am

    The air is drawn up the end of bottom block to feed fire.

  • Peter Feb 15, 2020, 6:29 pm

    I built this. It worked well, but after single long burn, with multiple fuel feedings, the cinder blocks fractured at the point of highest heat.

    I’d have to say that until this problem is fixed, I would not rely upon this design as a survival stove option.

    • Kris Bordessa Feb 18, 2020, 6:17 pm

      Did you use *concrete blocks or *cinder blocks?

  • Greg May 24, 2020, 8:54 am

    My fellow Cub- and Boy Scouts and I were building these in the late 60’s – early 70’s. They were based on a Cherokee method with rocks and riverbank clay. Occassional we’d camp near an old farmstead ruin, and use leftover bricks….

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