How To Make a Rocket Stove from a Beer Keg

Mark Boyle
Tuesday, 8th October 2013

Mark Boyle makes a moneyless, robust and durable rocket stove out of a discarded Guinness keg. Having made rocket stoves from tin cans, he shows you why this design will last a lifetime.

Rocket stoves are one of many smart ways you can reduce your reliance on imported gas or electricity for your cooking needs, whether it be for tea, soup or eggs. However, like everything, some of the designs and ideas you find on the internet work better than others. I've made rocket stoves out of small and large tin cans in the past, and whilst they are easy to make and a good use of waste (and handy if you're going camping), they are not so durable, so you inevitably end up having to make new ones.

This rocket stove is made from an old, damaged Guinness keg which was lying around my neighbours garden. If you can find a damaged keg this is a good way to reuse it as it will last a lifetime. Make sure the keg is depressurise first before you start modifying it.

I cut two holes - one out of the top, leaving enough space around the flue pipe so that you can comfortably infill it in with an insulating material, and the other through the side, where you will eventually feed your wood into. The holes I cut for this were made with an angle grinder - modern materials, such as those in kegs, need modern tools unfortunately. It is best to then fill the bottom of the keg with sand (or ideally ashes if you have enough), fit your elbowed flue pipe in place, before filling around the flue pipe up to the top of the keg with more ashes or sand. Then cut your flue pipe to size, leaving a few inches between where your flue pipe ends and where your grill will be placed.

Fit a small piece of aluminium, possibly cut from a tin can and the width of the diameter of your flue pipe, and fit it into the middle of the opening where you feed your kindling. You can then place your kindling and wood on the top of this where it will burn, whilst allowing sufficient airflow in through the bottom.

Our water comes from the spring, the tea from our herb garden, and the wood to fuel it from our land. We then flask three litres of it up for the day, which we use for for tea, eggs and dinner. If you want to effectively double your hob capacity, steam your vegetables on top of your pot of spuds.

It's another great way to help close the loop in all we do.

Mark Boyle lived without money for almost three years and now lives a minimalist money lifestyle in Eire. He is the author of The Moneyless Man and The Moneyless Manifesto. We published his Manifesto and offer it to our readers 25% off and p&p free in the UK. Buy Direct and support a small independent publisher. The Moneyless Manifesto is also available in North America from Chelsea Green Publishers, the distributors in USA and Canada of many of our titles.

His latest book Drinking Molotov Cocktails with Gandhi is out now for a special price of £8.20

Further Resources

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Make your own simple rocket stove for free

Video: Rocket Stove Kitchen

Video: Build a tin can rocket stove step by step

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inomama |
October 8, 2013 - 3:58pm

Breweries do not throw away kegs, as they are expensive and reuseable. This is why they are often stolen from pubs and distributors to be sold as scrap - although many scrap dealers will no longer accept them due to the likelihood that they are stolen property. This article is a great idea but I'm concerned it will encourage people to 'make use of' a resource that is still in use by its rightful owner. Please don't pick up kegs!

jwgregory |
October 8, 2013 - 9:05pm

please could you put on an other couple of photos or a sketch or two. of the top and how the flu works. Thank you.

gramail |
October 8, 2013 - 10:23pm

I second inomama above. Only in Ireland might you find aluminium kegs lying around in the bushes! They remain of course the property of the brewery and any removed from circulation will likely mean another one being manufactured - and we all know what aluminium smelting involves. I'm also concerned about the swarf from angle grinding it being scattered around my environment!
In his book Mark recommends using mild steel ('tin') cans for this stove, and I'm guessing he has found that thin mild steel burns through after a while. The proper material for a non-portable stove for daily use imho is cast iron or clay!

Maddy Harland |
October 9, 2013 - 10:06am

inomama: Mark was clear that this keg was damaged and therefore discarded. We do not want to encourage theft of kegs but if they are discarded due to damage it is worth repurposing them in this way.

jwgregor: In the Resources listed at the end of the feature there are various videos and another article which clearly detail how to fit the flue. Please watch them all for more details. You can also search 'rocket stoves' on our site for even more information posted here. Thanks.

anarchobrewer |
October 9, 2013 - 4:39pm

That keg is stolen, unless Mark has the paperwork from the brewery to show that he has obtained it legally. Just because it's damaged, doesn't mean that the brewery wont want it back and that they have discarded it, and unless you can produce the paperwork...

Aside from this, encouraging people to cut into what may be pressurised beer kegs is extremely irresponsible. A beer keg under pressure, if cut into will explode with a huge amount of force (enough to kill someone).

Some food for thought, from a brewer.

jabbamyhut |
October 12, 2013 - 4:02pm

'Make sure the keg is depressurised first before you start modifying it.' try reading properly before criticising, 'anarcho'brewer

Hydroponic Food on Facebook |
October 17, 2014 - 4:51pm

There is a point that beer kegs are retired and I think that is the most important point I think and using of discarded things is always consciously a better choice .. I brew my own beer and have purchased retired beer kegs at a salvage yard .. They were about $30 bucks last time I bought one .. I can not prove how they got there but most of them were pretty beat up! ... I think using recycled and retired things should be the point made here!

Namaste .. In Lak'ech!

sucatraps |
October 17, 2014 - 6:46pm

I'm more of a visual learner... lol... can we get a cut thru sketch or plan so we can see how it works? Thanks!

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