Fire’s soothing warmth, sonorous crackling, and elegant dance has an enchanting quality. Combining that with starting and maintaining a fire at the desired strength adds a lot of joy and immersion to my cooking days (we rotate cooking between the five of us). Still for the longest time we have only been using our wood stove to cook our lunches and the gas stove for breakfasts and dinners. Then about two months ago we had decided to stop using gas and only use our own local wood. It is a win all around. It makes cooking more enjoyable, more environmentally friendly, and economically more sustainable for us.

(bottom left) our wood stove in Capijuma decorated with orange peals by Antonio; (top left) getting the round middle part from this old lawn mower; (top middle) woven write; (bottom right) wire secured to the air holes; (top right) bottom and top airholes

(bottom left) our wood stove in Capijuma decorated with orange peals by Antonio; (top left) getting the round middle part from this old lawn mower; (top middle) woven write; (bottom right) wire secured to the air holes; (top right) bottom and top airholes

Switching to wood meant that we would have to make the big fire three times a day. Of course this seems excessive if all we need for breakfast is to make some hot water. So as a little side project I planned to make a small stove aka fast cooker. The primary part I would need is a cylindrical or square hollow piece of metal that can contain wood chips, allow for good air flow, and stable enough to put a kettle or pot onto of it. My search lead me to an old broken down lawnmower we had standing around.

Even though they are not made to be taken apart, some heavy hammering, a metal saw, and a hot fire did the trick. Adding to this cylindrical metal container, I wove a metal wire net that would hold the wood above ground, allow the ashes to fall, and air to fuel the fire.

(top left) metal frame to hold the kettle & allow better air circulation; (left middle) creating a hot fire; (top right) questioning look from Antonio; (bottom) continuing the optimization of the fast cooker

(top left) metal frame to hold the kettle & allow better air circulation; (left middle) creating a hot fire; (top right) questioning look from Antonio; (bottom) continuing the optimization of the fast cooker

Now it was time to test the fast cooker’s effectiveness and how it fairs compared to boiling a kettle of water on the gas stove. Our aluminum kettle filled with three liters of cool tap water took 17:45 minutes until I heard the first sound and 23:45 minutes until it reached its boiling point. My first trial with the fast cooker took 2:45 minutes longer. After optimizing the amount of wood chips, their size, and the type of wood I undercut the time it took on the gas stove by 45 second.

In the end we haven’t used it much because our breakfast habits have changed a bit and we needed the big fire to prepare everything. It still might come in handy later and by then it should work even better with some of the new modification ideas I’m having that should help increase the air flow and make it easier to add wood. But for now this is put on hold. The next big cooking project is to build ourselves a good wood stove in Abadiânia. One of the ideas we have is to add metal tubing inside the stove to create hot water for showers. Until we actually build it we’ll have to do some more research. If anyone has some good ideas or suggestions, we are all ears.

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