Rocket Stoves & Earth Ovens

rocket stove- fired up 4-19-2014 mushroom wksp

Rocket Stove Heated Bench

Rocket Stoves are very efficient wood-burning devices that generally use a J shape design for the combustion unit to achieve high temperatures and clean burn. The heat generated can be piped through thermal mass, such as an earthen bench which can serve as a “thermal battery”, storing the heat while creating warmth and comfort.

This article features four of the mass stoves that are on-site at Strawbale Studio 1 hour north of Detroit.
Attend a Rocket Stove & Earth Oven Class this year !  We might be able to plan one around your schedule.
You can also come for a 2 hr. LEARNING TOUR of the buildings & grounds and stoves. Or participate in a one month internship or wwoof program !

There are several Rocket Stoves on site at the Strawbale Studio: The Rocket Stove Heated Bench ~ in the Red Shed pole barn, was constructed by many hands.  It is uniquely sculpted with animal shapes ~ a turtle, a hawk with wings creating the sides of the seating area, and other beings woven into the design of the heater: whale, mouse, rabbit, frog, salamander, fish.

Check out the for info on current classes and to Join the listsrve.




Outdoor Rocket Cooker

The Outdoor Rocket Cooker is a basic Rocket Stove with a short feed tube where the wood goes, a horizontal burn tunnel, and a vertical chimney.  The air is drawn down the short feed tube, then rise up the chimney to provide heat to cook food.  It is considered a down-draft stove, and it burns cleanly, without smoke, using only sticks ~ once the fire is going.  Check on our current schedule here.  April 29th, 2023 workshop

Easy to construct, this stove has a 6″ stove pipe inside, with insulation (purlite or ashes) between the pipe and the bricks.  This makes the fire hotter, burning more completely (cleanly). We used an earthen mortar between the bricks ~ a clay/sand subsoil mix put through an 1/8th inch screen or window screen.  Water is added until this mix is like “mousse” – sort of thick & fluffy, spreadable. The bricks are soaked, then the earth mortar is thinly applied. The top layer needs re-mortaring every year or.  Cement mortar would be more weather-resistant. The top of the stove is protected, when not in use, with a 3 x 3′ piece of plywood.  A roof over it would be lovely.

Rocket Cooker Links   Maple Syrup Cooker Midwest Permaculture




Smiling Sun Earth Oven

The Smiling Sun Earth Oven is constructed primarily of clay / sand subsoil.  This traditional type of oven has been used throughout the world, over time, to bake anything you could bake in an oven.  It is of course beloved as a Pizza Oven !   This oven has a suspended metal roof which protects it from the elements. and a fieldstone foundation sitting on 8 inches of gravel below the ground level (grade).  Earth Oven Design Discussions by Kiko Denzer, author of Build Your Own Earth Oven and others.  A Step by Step guide to building an Earth Oven by Brendan Jonesrebandt.  I met Brendan at the Strawbale Studio exhibit area in August 2018 at the Eastern Market in Detroit.  Thanks, Brendan ! 






Rumford Fireplace

Rumford Fireplaces are quite efficient compared to a regular fireplace. Invented by Count Rumford during the time of Benjamin Franklin, this stove design features a shallow fire box area, with deeply slanted side which reflect the heat and radiate it out into the room.  Fires are often burned with the sticks placed vertically against the back wall. The Rumford Cabin Fireplace is constructed almost entirely of Cob (an earth mixture of about 1/4 clay / 3/4 sand) and uses manufactured bricks only on the surface of the firebox. The newest Rumford Cob Wall Fireplace is built into a Cob Garden Wall. It uses only cob (no bricks) except for the floor of the fireplace.   An 8″ metal pipe directs the flue gasses out of the cob and an insulated pipe takes it through the living roof.

Other cooking and heating devices on site are The Solar Cooker, The Haybox Insulative Cooker, several small metal “Pocket Rockets“.


wonderful book ~ Rocket Mass Heaters, now in its third edition, is the fruit of a collaboration between inventor Ianto Evans and creative publisher Leslie Jackson – with the hands-on assistance of two professed pyromaniacs: Kirk “Donkey” Mobert and Ernie Wisner. Ianto was me natural building teacher and mentor.  Kirk and I co-lead a 2 week  cob construction workshop in Oregon.  These are my peeps, along with Ernie & Erica, Max & Eva Edelson and Kiko Denzer.

Another new book:  The Rocket Mass Heater Builder’s Guide
Complete Step-by-Step Construction, Maintenance and Troubleshooting by Erica Wisner & Ernie Wisner  .  These folks are experienced!

COMPREHENSIVE ARTICLE ON ROCKET STOVES  links to current resources and forums.
Cabin heater & stove. See video on this page.
Walker Stoves ~ plans and support for rocket indoor cook stoves & mass heaters.




Q & A with Deanne and Uncle Mud (AKA Chris McClellan)

Q: Hey guys, I’m in northeast PA in the Pocono Mountains planning a straw-bale/cob structure. I’m looking for any and all sources on hydronic radiant heating within natural floors. Everything I’ve found online only regards man-made materials. I appreciate the help guys!        Nicolas

A: Nikolas, I have seen several successful installations of hydronic heating in poured earthen floors. I have installed a rocket heater with the chimney going through the floor and would do so again in certain circumstances. In our climate ( I live near Cleveland) it is important to insulate under your floor. I have had success with used foam insulation or perlite. Others prefer roxul, but it is more expensive. Hempcrete or strawclay are less effective as insulation but considerably better than nothing. Feel free to email or call if you want to pursue it. –uncle mud (aka chris mcclellan)