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podcast 400 - Rocket Oven

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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Credit: Julia Winter

Paul and Fred sit down to talk about rocket ovens. Also cherries. Folks picked 12 gallons of cherries this morning (!) Fred’s been pitting the cherries in preparation for drying them (in the super solar food dehydrator - Kickstarter stretch goal!) and he’s going to plant the cherry pits all over the place.

Go support the rocket oven kickstarter! It was funded in 18 hours, so it’s definitely happening. It’s well over the minimum, so that’s great. Paul figured he would not earn any money unless the funding went over $13K. Money is needed at Wheaton Labs. Many vehicles are in need of love.

So many morel mushrooms were picked and dried in the big solar dehydrator - Fred picked over 40 pounds of morels. (Did I mention that a documentary on how to make one is a stretch goal for the Kickstarter??)

Three rocket ovens have been built at Wheaton Labs. The first one is part of the 4 DVD package “Better Wood Heat.”  The design has been improved. The second build was again by Tim Barker at the innovator’s event. Next, they pulled the engine from it and built a grate for it, so you could put a pot of water on the flame.

At last year’s ATC Tyler Morrison built a new and improved rocket oven. He went back to Seattle and built #4, then he built #5 and they video’d the whole thing. This last build requires NO welding, and it goes pretty fast.

Getting ready for the Kickstarter, Paul made some videos of how fast it heats up and how that compares to other ovens. A cob oven takes many hours, and a lot of wood, to heat up. A modern oven takes over 11 minutes to get to 350 degrees. Fred went up to see how long the rocket oven would take to get to 350 degrees - he didn’t do so well on his first try. Erica got it to 350 in 7 minutes 30 seconds. Usually it got there in 9 minutes.

Paul feels like the rocket oven could go to 900 degrees, for traditional thin pizza, no problem. Not sure that’s been done yet. (Note from the typer: we got our rocket oven to well over 600 degrees and it made great pizza!)

They did multiple trials where they weighed how much wood it took to cook various things in the rocket oven: pizza, cake, roasts, cornbread, banana bread, etc etc and pie. A lot of this was for the peasant PDC, as they prepared their own food. Almost everything could be cooked with 2 to 4 pounds of wood.

Really. Not much wood.

When we cooked 8 pizzas in half an hour, we used 5 pounds of wood. This took half an hour. The rocket oven makes a Friday pizza party a real possibility!

Paul has a cool recipe for polydough, where you make a gallon of dough and keep it in the fridge. You can pull off chunks of dough to make different things: pizza, cinnamon rolls, pigs in a blanket, fry bread.

“Propane is not really off-grid.”  If you are cooking with propane, you are bringing the grid to your place.

If you have 4’ x 4’ x 4’ of twigs and branches, that’s half a cord. Paul guesses that you could cook for 200 days with half a cord of wood, if it’s in small pieces.

If you have a cob oven, you’re going to produce a massive amount of smoke as you heat the thing up. If you build Ernie’s cool double chambered cob oven, you burn the smoke, but the heat produced just goes straight up into the sky.

When you cook in the rocket oven, there’s hardly any smoke (generally only at the beginning while it’s heating up). Your neighbors will not know that you’re burning, other than smelling the pizza!

Carbon footprint. The biggest thing you could do to decrease your carbon footprint is switch to a rocket mass heater. Maybe the rocket oven can be a gateway drug to rocket mass heaters! (Paul’s goal is to improve people’s lives so much that they don’t feel like using their car. They don’t want to go anywhere. Thus shrinking their carbon footprint.)

The rocket oven Kickstarter is going on now (until July 26, 2018 ). There are lots of cool things that you can get at the $1 and $5 level. A couple of the stretch goals will add things for everyone who is in for $15 or more. ($15 gets you streaming access to the rocket oven instructional documentary, which will definitely be more than 75 minutes long.) At higher levels, you can get the 8 DVD set, and video of the ATC from last year, and other cool things - check it out!

Relevant Threads

Rocket Oven Kickstarter
Poly Dough
The Rocket Powered Oven: how to build your own super-efficient cooker
Rocket Oven Kickstarter thread at permies

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Location: BC Canada Zone 5&6
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We currently use a propane stove and a propane generator to charge batteries in the winter for our solar system. I agree you are not actually off-grid if you still use propane hence why I can not wait to get my hands on the DVD for this rocket oven and the rocket stoves.
I want to build an outside kitchen and shower area so I can have a place to cook and clean and actually be off-grid. My husband is still skeptical so I can not wait to get my package from the Kickstarter. Keep up the good work.

The glass is neither half full or half empty. It is too big. But this tiny ad is just right:
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