Ray Cirino is famous for his PermacultureArt including this biochar producing rocket stove made from actual rocket parts. The air intake is made from a turbocharger that spins the air as it comes in, thoroughly mixing the air and fuel for a clean burn. I took this slow-motion video of the spinning flames while we were making breakfast with the eggs from Ray's hens. Stay tuned for more videos of Ray's work at Jackrabbit Springs in the Mojave desert.
Ray Cirino is a master of Functional Permaculture Art. If he builds a dragon it is also a pizza oven and a rocket stove that produces biochar. If he builds a shower it is also a trellis that grows food. Jackrabbit Springs is an oasis in the Mojave desert and the new home of Ray's growing menagerie of art objects that feedpeople and water the desert. Stay tuned for more...
Ray Cirino's "mud legos" are pretty fantastic. He calls them "Raygo Blocks. They are made in a hydraulic press from cob: sandy clay soil and straw, and they lock-stack together like, well, Legos. Except they aren't made out of plastic, you can build a real house out of them using onsite local materials, and you can build curves with them because the ends are rounded not square. Who is going to help me convince Ray to build a big mobile block press and take it around to people's jobs? Email me at email@example.com if you are serious.
Uncle Mud is back with more Permaculture inspiration from Ray Cirino. This wood fired hot tub has a perfect view of the Owens Valley. The stainless steel therapy tub is a work of art, with a cover and surround made from repurposed old growth redwood, but the wood fired rocket water heater is even better. The heater is built into the bottom of the water tank and it is all built on a pivot so when the water is hot enough you just tip the heater to pour the water into the tub. When you are done soaking the water drains into the garden.
The tour of Ray Cirino's place continues with a look at more of his Rocket Heaters including the Lotus made from actual rocket parts, and the King Beaver Rocket Pizza Oven that makes Biochar and looks like something from a steampunk western. We also get to check out Ray's art garden trellis, a fire pit that creates a heart shaped vortex of flame to roast marshmallows on, and some cool new projectplans that involve enormous satellite dishes as water collecting roofs for fireproof tinyhouses. Stay tuned for part 5!
Ray Cirino loves to build functional art out of things that other people throw away. He is particularly proud of this find: large piles of discarded pumice (lava rock) from the mine across the valley. Out here in the desert apparently it isn't worth the effort to haul things off to the dump or the recycler or even put an ad on Craigslist so things just sit there until someone comes along with an idea for what to do with it. Pumice is a great insulator so Ray is building insulated cob and insulated living roofs with this stuff. Where I live you pay $500 per ton for lava rock (mostly for the shipping because there are no volcanos in Cleveland) but Ray gets it for free as well as the the super durable screen panels they used to use for conveyor belts to haul the stuff out of the mine. What cool things are just laying around your neighborhood that you could build something cool out of if you asked?
More of Ray Cirino's magic gadgets: A wood-fired rocket barbeque made out of an old warming cupboard, inoculated biochar compost for greening the desert, and a wood-fired rocket stove made out of an old turbo charger (more to come on that later).
We all have that friend who we love to visit, but we have to ask ourselves "did we come to visit Ray, or did we come to visit his cool toys?" We really do love Ray, so we brought him real maple syrup from Ohio and we are making him breakfast while we play with his cool new Tornado Rocket Stove he built out of scrap metal and an old turbo charger. Caution: we are really geeking out on it.
Chris, thanks for posting this!
I love the turbo swirl. My DH used to work with turbos on small (by US standards!) diesel engines and I think could be interested in this too. We're getting a bit fed up with our current stove set up, which has lasted 14 years now and could do with a birthday.
I'll also have to get my head round the tapered flue idea. It sort of makes sense, but I'll have to a bit more research on it.
Back to Ray Cirino's place where he is cooking us up some fresh veggies with a little help from the sun and a repurposed satellite dish. Stay tuned for more repurposing fun as he's about to get a large shipment of old radar dishes to play with.
I would have thought that this spot on the edge of the Mojave Desert and the Sierra Nevadas would be hotter than this Eastern boy could handle, but its actually cooler here at around 100 than it has been where I've been working in Montana (107). And really as long as I have some shade and a cool place to soak I'm good. Jackrabbit Springs has just the spot for me. Apparently the bears like it too.
Ray Cirino sells a lot of his ideas by building scale models of the projects. These models helped my then six year old daughter decide to go into engineering. I love that Ray has been responding to the fires in California with better and better fireproof house designs. It's only going to get worse folks. Stop building houses out of flammable stuff in places that regularly catch on fire!
I don't know anyone more in love with Biochar than Ray Cirino (with the exception of Albert Bates). Albert! Check out what Ray is doing with Biochar! In the desert nutrient and water are scarce commodities. There's a lot of sand but very little soil. Very little living organic matter to hold the water and use it. Ray's Biochar kitchen sink filter traps food particles in a living breathing net of air and water and carbon and little organisms that feed on all that stuff. They in turn get fed on by bigger organisms like tomatoes and peaches and bears and Uncle Muds when he chucks it all in a compost pile and uses it to build soil.
While we are waiting for dinner to cook Ray shows me one of his favorite desert phenomenon. He calls it Shadow Love, when the shadow of the Sierra Nevada mountains to our west is blocking most of the heat and it starts to cool down. And dinner is almost ready. I can smell the carrots cooking in the solar oven.
Jackrabbit Springs is such an amazing place and Ray's Permaculture Art continues to blow my mind, but the best part of my visits with Ray is listening to him talk, so I'm just going to keep sharing all this footage from making dinner in his Biochar Oven. More to come!
There ought to be a "Cooking with Ray" show where you can just listen to whatever he is talking about. In this episode we range from "why does my rocket stove make puffing sounds" to the pros and cons of burning plastic to secondary air intake. Great fun. Stay tuned for more.
This little building houses the heart of Jackrabbit Springs, a spring or "seep" that brings life to this little oasis tucked into the Owens Valley between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Mojave Desert. Water is Life. Keep it Growing Ray Cirino!
Think of this as an impromptu podcast. The night before we left Jackrabbit Springs Ray Cirino invited me to join him in his favorite contemplation spot--up on the roof of his house overlooking the Owens Valley. The moon was bright enough to light up the whole valley, but not bright enough to show up on my camera. The silver lining glowing in the darkness was this amazing conversation with Ray about impermanence. A lot of Permaculturists and Natural Builders talk about buildings to last seven generations, but how many buildings these days are even suitable for the way we live thirty years after they were built? Cob works as a long term rebuildable building to last the centuries, but it also works as an impermeant building medium for walls you know you are going to knock down or significantly edit every few years.