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Dana Driscoll's blog

Page history last edited by Deanne Bednar 10 years, 7 months ago

 

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From Dana Driscoll's blog.  

 

Natural Building II: Rocket Stoves! October 17, 2012

Filed under: Crafts,Creative Pursuits,Dirt,Earth,Elements,Fire,Living in Harmony,Natural building,Other Sites,Permaculture,Progress,Triumphs,Wildcrafting — Willowcrow @ 10:04 am 
Tags: brick and cob rocket stovebrick rocket cookstovecob mortardruidry through natural buildingnatural buildingnatural cookerynatural stovepermaculture,rocket cookstoverocket stoverumsford stovesmall rocket stovestep by step rocket stove

Earlier this week, I blogged about my visit to the Strawbale Studio.  In this second Natural Building post, I’m going to talk about the rocket stove workshop itself.  I’m quite excited about rocket stoves, because they use simple materials to create incredibly energy-efficient ways of cooking and heating.  I took this workshop because we’ve been talking about building an outdoor kitchen.  The plan next year is to build a rocket-stove cob baking oven and a rocket stove cooking oven.  Should be quite cool!

Rocket stoves can do a lot of things.  Typically, they are being used for two things in natural building: heating spaces and/or people and cooking.  Deanne’s indoor rocket stove features a cob bench.  The bench heats up at 1″ per hour when the rocket stove is going, so if there is 4″ of cob (a sand/clay mixture), it will take four hours to get warm.  Deanne says this kind of rocket stove heating system is best for long-term heating.  The basic principle of the rocket stove is that it uses a “J” shaped design to funnel heat through the stove system–the stove system can take many forms.  One form that Deanne has in-progress at the Strawbale Studio is a heating bench that goes the entire way around the natural building, so that people will warm up as they sit.

Deanne’s indoor rocket stove couch!

Deanne explains the rocket stove

Close-up of stove diagram

Rocket stove #2 (bare bones stove)

The above photo is a bare-bones rocket stove that Deanne had on the property.  You can see the “J” shape made with bricks.  This stove doesn’t have much insulation at all.  But it gave us a good idea about what the inside of one of these could look like.

Before we set to building our own fireplace, it was quite cold and a little rainy.  So we decided we’d also build a “rumford” fireplace that reflected heat back to us as we worked.  It was such a simple, elegant design–and it worked SO well in keeping us warm!

Building Rumford Temporary Fireplace – to keep us warm!

I ended up tending the fire for a lot of the day, and worked to build a fire that would keep out the rain and protect the coals.  Turns out, the rumford design is really good for that!  Here’s our fire going strong, even in the pouring rain!

Rumford in Rain!

So after building this quick stove, we set to work about 8′ away from it to build a cob-and-rocket cookstove.

Step 1. We began with mocking up what our rocket cookstove would look like using bricks.  Deanne told us that the bricks are important–old, red bricks work fine.  New red bricks are different and don’t work as well.  You need something that can handle repeated heat-ups and cool downs and that is fire-resistant.

Step 2: After we were satisfied with our design, which consisted of a piece of fireplace pipe, insulation, and an outer layer of bricks with a cob mortar, we began the process of putting the stove together.  The photo below shows us learning about brick laying!  As we put the bricks into place, we dunked each brick in water, then added cob to the brick.  Then we placed the bricks, tapping them into place.  After tapping, we used a level to make sure that we were building level as we went–both vertically and horizontally.

Beginning to add cob mortar to the rocket stove!

Step 3:  Add in the pipe.  The photo below shows how we placed the pipe.  Note the space around the pipe for our insulation (pearlite).  All of those spaces were filled either with insulation or cob.

Rocket Step 3: Adding in pipe!

Step 4:  We added a bit of insulation to the bottom (even below where the logs are placed) and then continued to cob up around the pipe.  Eventually, we had built up enough cob to add a brick which held the pipe in place.  You can see the cob is quite wet, but it still held together as we kept adding it!

Cobbing up the pipe!

Step 5: At this stage, we added more bricks and more insulation. Deanne used something called Pearlite (which you can find at a hydroponics store) but she said any non-flammable, insluating thing would work.  Wood ash works quite well, and that’s what we plan on using since we have a lot of it from our wood fireplace.

Adding insulation!

Adding more bricks!

Step 6: We finished the top of the stove with more cobb.  This is the heating surface.  You can’t just stic a pot on it though, you need a way for the heat to escape.  So you can put three little stones around the top and sit a grill or a pot on it.

Cobbing the top of the stove!

Step 7: After we finished the stove, we had to do some stove cleaning.  We took cob and patched up any cracks.  We also used a wire brush across the bricks to get off any excess cob mortar.

Cleaning rocket stove!

The completed stove!  I can’t wait to see how it works!

Finished Rocket Stove!

Concluding thoughts: 

Every time I learn a new skill or area, I am reminded about how much knowledge we have lost and need to work to regain. We claim to live in the information age, but for all of the information we have, we can’t do simple things like grow crops or build ourselves an oven. Its exciting and necessary to learn these new skills as we seek to live in harmony and transition to a more sustainable world.

I am looking forward to taking these skills and working on our outdoor kitchen project next year! :)

 

 

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Natural Building I: The Strawbale Studio October 14, 2012

Filed under: Community,Earth,Living in Harmony,Natural building,Other Sites,Permaculture,Respecting Earth,Wildcrafting — Willowcrow @ 8:33 am 
Tags: cob ovenfood forestsinspirational placesliving in harmony with naturenatural buildingpermaculturephotos of strawbale studiosite visit to strawbale studiostrawbale studiosustainabilitythatched roof

Yesterday, I attended a rocket stove building workshop at the Strawbale Studio and the sustainability-focused work of Deanne Bednar. In this post, I want to spend time highlighting the Strawbale Studio and Deanne Bandar’s work as an excellent example of permaculture and sustainable living.  In this first post, I’ll highlight some of the Strawbale Studio and other projects; in a later post this week, I will talk specifically about the rocket stove concept and what we learned and built!

I want to start by saying that site visits to places like the Strawbale Studio are really important and inspirational for anyone who is interested in natural building/sustainability/permaculture.  These places can bring us inspiration, joy, and ideas for transforming our own landscapes.  I’ve read about all of this in books and spoken to people, watched videos on Youtube, etc.  But its not till you really get to see it, and build it, that you really understand its power.  Its through being able to put your hands on the cool cob, or see the thatched roof from different angles, that you really appreciate the value of natural building skills.  I have been inspired by the Strawbale Studio and Deanne’s positive energy, and I can’t wait to get started on some of my own projects.

The Strawbale Studio

Deanne runs the Strawbale Studio on her rural property outside of Oxford, Michigan (in South-East Michigan).  Deanne runs regular monthly workshops, full moon potlucks, and regular volunteer days on natural building.  She has learned from a number of excellent teachers, including Ianto Evans. I feel incredibly fortunate to live so close to someone with such expertise on natural building–she is truly a wealth of knowledge and an inspiration.

I didn’t get to take pictures of everything because we had quite a rainy day, however, I did get some photos to share and will return for more when the weather is nice!

The Strawbale Studio

 

Strawbale Studio Back

The first two photos are of the strawbale studio.  Its a fully functional living space built out of natural materials–namely, cob (which is a mixture of clay, sand, and usually straw) and strawbales.  It also features natural thatching from phragmites (which are what many consider an invasive species in the area; its nice to see what Deanne was able to do with these reeds!).  These next three photos are of the inside of the strawbale studio. One of the things I really like about cob building is how you are able to be so creative with it!

Strawbale Studio Tree!

 

Inside the Studio #1

 

Strawbale Studio Loft

Sleeping Spaces, Living Roofs,  & Building Materials

Deanne brings in interns from all over the world to live and work at the site, learning natural building along the way.  They get to sleep in really neat places, like this natural lean-to and the strawbale studio!  And in the house… if they really want to. (But seriously, who would want to when you can sleep in these kinds of places?)

Thatched Lean-To

 

Living Roof – In progress

 

Natural Building Materials

Cob / Earth Oven

The next photos are of Deanne’s earth oven.  I’ve been planning to make my own for some time, so seeing a live one and being able to look at it and talk to her about the process was super helpful!

Small oven mockup!

 

Earth Oven!

 

Awesome Stick Spiral above Oven

Cob as a natural building material has so much potential. In Michigan, we have a really nice balance of sand to clay (which is about 75/80% – 25-20%) so we have great materials for cob here.  I am looking forward to making some of my own here next year :). Here are two more shots of what you can do with cob–as a decorative feature and as a building block:

Cob spiral

 

Brick of Cob

Food Forests

Deanne also uses permaculture principles to grow food and medicinals. Here’s a photo of her front “lawn”.  Love it!  This is a front yard that produces rather than consumes. And in the fall, its so beautiful with all of the colors and plants!

Food Forest!

 

Food Forest!

I am truly inspired by Deanne’s property and all of the projects happening. I think its important to remember that this  is the product of thousands of hours of work, many helping hands, and a woman with a clear vision for a sustainable future.  Her projects and presence in this community is something worth aspiring to. This is the power of community, knowledge, and action!

 

 

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