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Rocket Powered Sauna!!!

 
Posts: 4
Location: Pacific NW
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Greetings!

I've been lurking on this forum for well over a year, and happened to discover it shortly after deciding to finally build an outdoor sauna. After a half-dozen odd mockups/prototypes/screwups, I have an authentic Finnish "sow-nuh" (please don't say "saw-nuh") that is heated by a 6 inch batch box rocket heater. Much to the disbelief of my patiently skeptical wife and amazed children, it works!

Some pictures...
20151006_175829.jpg
Outside, with some finishing left to do of course
Outside, with some finishing left to do of course
20151006_175904.jpg
Looking into the dressing room
Looking into the dressing room
20151006_180008.jpg
The heart of the beast, excuse the ugly temporary safety railing
The heart of the beast, excuse the ugly temporary safety railing
 
steward
Posts: 3673
Location: woodland, washington
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can't feel clean without a sauna, myself. how about some specs? what size room, how long to heat up to what temperature, how's the löyly, &c.
 
steward
Posts: 3500
Location: Moved from south central WI to Portland, OR
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That's gorgeous! Congratulations!
 
Posts: 246
Location: S.E. Michigan - Zone 6a
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Please more details. This is on my dream list to build and I hope to start on it next year. I keep running through my head on how to do this with a rocket stove and haven't been able to come up with a way.
 
Posts: 531
Location: North-Central Idaho, 4100 ft elev., 24 in precip
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This thing's awesome, tell us more! Do you have any build pics, specs, please do share!!!
 
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Very nice - on my 2 do list. Specs? Build pics? Cost?

Would love to hear more. Thanks.
Good work, Paul.

 
Posts: 11
Location: North Dakota
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Beautiful! I would pay for detailed building plans and specs. This is something my wife had been after me about for ages. This would be perfect.
 
Paul Daniels
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Thank you all for the nice comments. Here is how it went... I grew up with an electric sauna, and my wife and I always intended to build one once we had some acreage. I began the project in 2014, but didn't want to spend the money for an electric heater right away (I'm quite cheap). Inspired by my wife finding me an arc welder at a garage sale, I began to look for a way to build a simple wood heater as purely a temporary step until I could find a good deal on an electric unit. Right about that time I happened on a link to a RMH article and the gears began turning. Fast forward through lots of reading and many prototypes and design changes... here we are.

It honestly works far better than I believed possible. To answer Tel specifically: The overall building is 16 x 8 outside dimensions. The steam room is 8ft 5in x 7ft 3in inside with a 7ft 3in ceiling, so large for what I am used to.

I have had it up to 210F, but the stove body kicks off a lot of radiant heat - making the walls and benches uncomfortably hot to the touch. We have found that 160-180F feels really nice. What I am really happy with is the heating time. The other night it was 160+ about 40 mins after lighting the fire. That was with a load of alder and oak. I have been burning lots of random wood (pallet pieces, cottonwood, unseasoned branches), so around an hour is pretty common.

Cost: We are still tracking some things, but it will honestly top $6,000 before it's done. That was with sourcing as many discount materials as possible and doing all labor myself. There are certainly places I could have shaved costs, but I found out simply building a watertight outdoor insulated buildng is expensive.

Plans: No plans, sorry. I came up with the overall dimensions and just went with it. I will try to answer any specific layout/dimension/construction questions though.

More pictures as I dig them up!
20151006_175730.jpg
Door to burn chamber
Door to burn chamber
20151008_223053.jpg
Steam room - still need to finish safety railing
Steam room - still need to finish safety railing
20151006_175642.jpg
Start of a nice burn
Start of a nice burn
 
tel jetson
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Paul Daniels wrote:
I have had it up to 210F, but the stove body kicks off a lot of radiant heat - making the walls and benches uncomfortably hot to the touch. We have found that 160-180F feels really nice. What I am really happy with is the heating time. The other night it was 160+ about 40 mins after lighting the fire. That was with a load of alder and oak. I have been burning lots of random wood (pallet pieces, cottonwood, unseasoned branches), so around an hour is pretty common.



my own rocket kiuas also puts out a lot of radiant heat. when I rebuild it, I think I'll put some sort of shield around it to reduce the radiation and increase convection. I like a sauna in the vicinity of 240 °F on the top laude, but when I'm up to that temp, the surface of my kiuas is close to 800 °F and looking at it heats my eyes up. I like to sweat, but I don't think hot eyeballs are desirable.
 
Paul Daniels
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Found a few pictures on my phone of the stove construction.

Tel, I also have thought about the heat shield idea. I may go that route if we decide to try pushing the air temps up. Right now anything much above 180F and my kids complain about it being too hot

20150904_163128.jpg
Heat riser inside the barrel - fire cement mix with perlite inside sheet metal forms
Heat riser inside the barrel - fire cement mix with perlite inside sheet metal forms
20150528_181539.jpg
Constructing the burn chamber and bottom of the riser from firebrick
Constructing the burn chamber and bottom of the riser from firebrick
 
Posts: 99
Location: Minnesota
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Looks like a really nice stove/sauna heater. Did you follow any plans/thoughts on how to build the batch box? I like the idea of a rocket stove but the places I would want to use it are less frequently used so having the ability to heat longer on one load of wood would be really nice.
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Paul Daniels wrote:...
I have had it up to 210F, but the stove body kicks off a lot of radiant heat - making the walls and benches uncomfortably hot to the touch. We have found that 160-180F feels really nice. What I am really happy with is the heating time. The other night it was 160+ about 40 mins after lighting the fire. That was with a load of alder and oak. I have been burning lots of random wood (pallet pieces, cottonwood, unseasoned branches), so around an hour is pretty common.

More pictures as I dig them up!



I'm thinking a nice water jacket on the face of the stove would be an ideal solution. Can your welder handle that?
 
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Thanks for sharing Paul. I truly appreciate it as my partner and I are in the design stages of something similar. I can't tell from the pictures how high the heat riser extends into the top chamber containing the rocks. Also does the stove vent directly after heating rocks? Have you added any heat shield since last posting?

Thanks
 
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Wow, I am looking for ideas, this is very straightforward.i want to build more of a traditional banya. With sod roof, but want the heat source to be super simple.
 
pollinator
Posts: 619
Location: Iron River MI zone 3b
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I’m liking this. My wife and I want to build a sauna eventually and have a bunch of red pine to work with now. Will probably want cedar for the inside, unless I find out whether or not charred and sealed red pine paneling would hold up to the heat and moisture. Definitely want to heat with a rocket stove but know very little about them and have no experience building and using one at all. This is inspiring though!
 
Rocket Scientist
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Hi Brody;
These folks have built a batchbox rocket stove for their sauna.
A longer burning more technical design that allows you to use horizontal wood.
There are some metal parts that need to be fabricated  to build a batchbox.
They are readily available from my store https://dragontechrmh.com/

But as a new aspiring rocket scientist, you might find that an 8"  J tube rocket is much easier for you to build, with no metal fabrication needed.
Simple J tube practice rockets can be built in your backyard.  
Learning about them ahead of time will make you very confident when you go to build your sauna.
After you have built and used a J tube in your sauna then upgrading to a batch box for longer burn times might be to your liking.

To practice build/play all you need are some clay bricks and gooie clay like mud.
If your interested we can give you the dimension's you want to work with.
Also finding a copy of the Rocket mass Heater builders guide is a great starting point that will answer many questions.

 
Brody Ekberg
pollinator
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Location: Iron River MI zone 3b
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thomas rubino wrote:Hi Brody;
These folks have built a batchbox rocket stove for their sauna.
A longer burning more technical design that allows you to use horizontal wood.
There are some metal parts that need to be fabricated  to build a batchbox.
They are readily available from my store https://dragontechrmh.com/

But as a new aspiring rocket scientist, you might find that an 8"  J tube rocket is much easier for you to build, with no metal fabrication needed.
Simple J tube practice rockets can be built in your backyard.  
Learning about them ahead of time will make you very confident when you go to build your sauna.
After you have built and used a J tube in your sauna then upgrading to a batch box for longer burn times might be to your liking.

To practice build/play all you need are some clay bricks and gooie clay like mud.
If your interested we can give you the dimension's you want to work with.
Also finding a copy of the Rocket mass Heater builders guide is a great starting point that will answer many questions.



Thanks for the advice! Our sauna is kind of low on my priority list right now (although my wife would rank it more highly!) but I will probably the Art of Fire and maybe some more of the Wisner’s work before getting too involved. Our boiler for our house is on its way out and I’d like to heat with wood instead. Hopefully in the future we will have a RMH for the sauna and one for the house to double as a cook stove as well! In the mean time, I do have old clay bricks and a decent amount of clay in our soil at home. I’m thinking a good practice run/experiment will be to build a small rocket stove and boil maple sap in the spring. Maybe cook a few meals on it to see how it goes before invest information serious time and effort into something more important!
 
Any sufficiently advanced technology will be used as a cat toy. And this tiny ad contains a very small cat:
An EPA Certified and Building Code/UL Compliant Rocket Stove!!!!!
EPA Certified and UL Compliant Rocket Heater
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