Home Heat – An Archive of Stories and Experiences About People Building For Fire to Heat Home & Family

The stories are gathering fast so a new archive has been created! The saying “Only mass can hold energy” has been rattling around the press for some months now and this is the result. A collection of stories by people who are experimenting with different techniques of building for fire in order to burn cleanly and retain the most heat possible within their homes. An activity where art and science come together – where the intuition of sculpture and the discipline of measurement are kindred spirits.


The Cabin Stove 2.0

Important update! This article still serves as an important archive piece in the design development. The most current Cabin Stove documentation is available at The Cabin Stove Page. What is the Cabin Stove? The Cabin Stove is a compact wood-burning … Continue reading

Improving woodstove efficiency: Rocket Stoves & Masonry Heaters

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

How to Make a Rocket Powered Kiln of Clay and Sawdust

Jon and Flip Anderson have been working with stoves and ovens for some years now (HPP regulars may remember their rocket powered oven design.) Last February, they helped teach at the Winter Stove Workshop put on by Aprovecho and InStove. … Continue reading

Mass Heater for a Greenhouse Using a Wood Stove

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

Testing the Limits – Adobe Heaters in Argentina

I have recently built three single-skin masonry heaters in Argentina using unfired bricks and would like to share some thoughts and an account of the experience.  All three were based on the design presented by Alex Chernov at the 2012 … Continue reading

Cob + Firebrick = Masonry Heater Experiment

When I was 27, I moved back to my hometown in northern Minnesota to start a small organic vegetable farm. I sold produce to the wife of a stone mason, and he was looking for help in the winters. I … Continue reading

Recent Research on Rocket Mass Heaters (and Bell Design)

There appears to be a huge amount of traffic and discussion through different internet forums about rocket mass heaters and reports from the authors on sales of the book on the subject confirm this incredible surge in interest. I am … Continue reading

Increase wood-stove efficiency with bricks and mud: Construction Details & Videos

Increase woodstove efficiency with bricks and mud This is a pretty simple do-it-yourself option for anyone interested in increasing the efficiency of an old (or new!) woodstove. That said, a heater in the home poses serious risks — greater than … Continue reading

Heat your masonry oven with a clean, top-down fire

Heat your masonry oven with a clean, top-down fire The top-down fire works well for masonry ovens, stoves, and fireplaces, as well as outdoor fires. It’s simple: dry fuel, small sticks (plenty of surface area), plenty of volume where fuel … Continue reading

Adding masonry to increase wood stove efficiency

earthen masonry heater hat for wood-fired stove
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

waterglass for binding earthen surfaces & pigment

“Waterglass” for protection & paint Waterglass has become my preferred binder in places where it’s needed. The chemical name is sodium or potassium silicate. It’s an inert mineral compound similar to window glass, but under heat and pressure, it’s soluble … Continue reading