Make a sustainable, yurt-style shelter, by hand, with materials your can find and harvest yourself. Come June, Kiko Denzer will lead a week-long intensive natural building project to perfect a design for a simple, affordable, efficient and beautiful yurt made … Continue reading
Improving woodstove efficiency: Rocket Stoves & Masonry Heaters: Editor’s introductory note: Masonry heaters, many of them self-built, warm millions of homes in the former USSR, where Alex Chernov grew up. Now working as a certified heater mason in Canada, Alex … Continue reading
Kiko Denzer and I were hired to build a heater in a greenhouse for some very avid gardeners. They had experimented with using a wood stove but there simply wasn’t enough heat retained for the stove to heat the greenhouse from one day to the next throughout the winter. Our task was to incorporate the old wood stove, mostly taking advantage of the glass door and firebox it offered, and plug it into a system with channels and enough mass to absorb sufficient warmth to heat the greenhouse with one firing a day. This article chronicles that build and the results. Continue reading
Out of the blue one day I got a phone call from a guy named Ian Miller. He said he had built a few ovens, baked a fair amount of bread, was married to an Austrian and (among other things) interested in translating Build Your Own Earth Oven into German. With that began an adventure that is now resulting in a new (German!) edition of the book, published by Stocker Verlag, out of Austria (they also publish Austrian permaculturist Sepp Holzer, which makes it even more of an honor). Very interesting to let go of the book and let someone else take it all apart and put it all back together again in a language I can’t read or speak. But in the process of doing it, I realize there are some good stories I haven’t yet shared — not about translation and books, but about ovens and their people. So, while it’s late (especially in terms of giving credit where it’s due for previous projects) I hope this will be a start. Continue reading
Joe Kennedy, long-time natural builder, tells fascinating stories of the ovens he has built and the lessons he has learned from them. Joe addresses many useful design ideas that he has drawn from his experience. He also shares his drawings of a current oven he is buiding that synthesizes his experiences into a very efficient and useful oven. Continue reading
This time of year I don’t usually get too muddy, but I brought some mud into my office last month so I could have a better and more efficient source of heat — finally! This little “heater hat” effectively turned my little iron box stove into a mini-masonry heater — with an oven! (note the wooden door on the right, just above the iron stove door). The wood that used to over-heat me, briefly, in the morning, now keeps me comfortably warm all day, and into the next morning (depending on how long I fire it and how cold it is). And, unlike most iron stoves, it doesn’t generate that fierce, drying attack-heat that people try to moderate, either by burning wet wood, or by damping down their fire so it heats minimally and smokes prodigiously.
The stove was an old cast-off that now provides clean heat with minimal smoke. The surface temperatures of the heater portion are much lower than hot iron and (except for the tile, which gets hotter), very huggable. In addition, I lined the firebox with brick, which keeps the metal surfaces cooler and safer, but increases internal combustion temperatures for a cleaner burn. Continue reading
â€œWaterglassâ€ for protection & paint Waterglass has become my preferred binder in places where itâ€™s needed. The chemical name is sodium or potassium silicate. Itâ€™s an inert mineral compound similar to window glass, but under heat and pressure, itâ€™s soluble … Continue reading