The EcoZoom rocket stove was designed by the folks at Aprovecho Research Center and is marketed by EcoZoom.com for use in developing countries as a safer and more efficient method of cooking, and they have recently expanded their products for use by the camping and emergency preparedness market.
But is the EcoZoom any good … and more importantly is the EcoZoom rocket stove a practical and efficient survival cooking tool or just another marketing gimmick designed to take your money…
Well, let’s start from the beginning…
My first impression when I picked up the box from my local U.S. Post Office was that the package was much heavier than expected. For some reason it felt much heavier than the listed 26.75lbs, it could have been the bulkiness of the box or maybe I was still feeling the serving of homemade wine from the day before. 😀
After making a few scheduled stops around town, I finally made it back to my place and opened the box to see what was hidden behind the cardboard. After opening the box and looking at the stove, feeling it’s weight and opening the doors – it looked and felt like a well-made product.
In my opinion, the hinged doors put this stove in a class above many other rocket stove models on the market that have a thin metal door that slides into place behind thin metal brackets. I don’t think these would last very long under extended use…
But I still had to put it to the test to be sure…
My initial testing began by measuring the stove from bottom to top and across the top width. According to my tape measure, the stove measured just over 12 1/2 inches tall and 10 1/2 across the top. One feature, I really liked was the 6-pronged universal cast iron stove top and it’s two carry handles positions on each side of the stove.
The EcoZoom rocket stove is designed to burn wood, dried biomass (Plant materials and animal waste used as fuel) or charcoal making it a truly versatile means of cooking now and after the lights go out and other more conventional sources of fuel (like propane) are not available or need to be conserved for other uses.
As you can tell from the photos there are two doors – the top larger door is for wood and biomass while the smaller bottom door is to control airflow into the stove and thus the heat output. The EcoZoom comes with a stick support that is positioned in front of the top door allowing longer pieces of wood to be fed slowly into the stove as they burn.
There is also a small grate included for use with charcoal, this is simply inserted through the top door where it rests across the stoves grating system in a criss-cross pattern where it prevents all but the ashes of the burnt charcoal from falling through.
When using charcoal the charcoal briquets are dropped through the top of the stove with the top door closed. The bottom door remains open allowing air to flow into the burn chamber. You only need 5-6 charcoal briquets to heat up most meals or to boil water.
The EcoZoom also comes with a metal “pot skirt” that goes around the pot and is locked in place by screws that tighten the skirt to the cooking pot it is reported that the use of the skirt will increase the efficiency of the stove by 25% while using less wood. However, I’ve not had the opportunity to use the skirt so I can’t attest to its effectiveness.
Using the EcoZoom Stove
As stated above the EcoZoom rocket stove can be used with several different fuel types for cooking including, wood, charcoal, and biomass, however, I only used wood for my initial testing for this review.
Lighting and using the stove with wood is simple, with the most important consideration being the size of the wood and not using more than necessary. Just like building any campfire, you should start by getting everything ready beforehand, first gather a hand full of small dry pieces of wood about the size of a pencil, next you’ll need to gather enough wood for cooking whatever it is you are cooking – these pieces should be about the size of your thumb.
Next place the smaller sticks from the top down into the burn chamber, next light and place a piece of tinder (I used a cotton ball dipped in vaseline) inside the lower compartment through the bottom door underneath the wood, be sure to leave both doors open.
After the wood catches fire and the pieces are burning sufficiently, place the wood rack in front of the stove and start placing the larger sticks one at a time into the upper chamber until you have four or five sticks of wood burning.
Now you can start cooking… Heat can be controlled by manipulation the bottom door to control draft uptake into the burn chamber…
The EcoZoom rocket stove proved to be very heat efficient – bring a pan of water to a rolling boil in less than two minutes and frying an egg like nobody’s business. Having a means of cooking, when the power goes out should be self-explanatory. Having a cooking source that uses easy to find, renewable fuel is an extra bonus. The EcoZoom Rocket Stove is recommended from here…