Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rocket Stove - Another new brand - EcoZoom Versa

We have the StoveTec Rocket Stove which is a vast improvement in looks over our homemade stove. Homemade versions have been around in the camping and "hippie" world for years and years. Commercially made rocket stoves are newer on the scene. The designs seem to get better every year, which of course makes sense.  I'm not pushing for any particular type, but it is in your best interest to either make your own rocket stove or purchase one. 

You can make one from an old popcorn tin, and parts you find at CalRanch or Home Depot. If you choose to make your own, make sure you buy STEEL stove pipe, not aluminum dryer vent piping. Steel costs more, but your homemade version will last for many, many years. Tom has a great story about his first rocket stove he made. It is funny, so ask him about it! My brother Michael and his wife Joanne came over to see it just as it went poof. Tom was back the next day buying the parts he should have purchased the first time. When he built it the information about building your own rocket stove was "hippie" instructions and videos. 

Below you will find a review about the latest the EcoZoom Versa written by

In case you haven't read/seen my past review of the Stovetec rocket stove a rocket stove is a highly efficient wood-burning cooking stove that requires very little wood to boil water or cook an entire meal. Due to its design that allows for complete combustion, with just a few twigs and sticks you can maintain a hot burning fire that’s super clean and produces practically no smoke. Just recently I had been contacted by a representative from the EcoZoom company about doing a review of their version of the rocket stove: the "Zoom Versa". After some thorough testing, I found it to be an top-rate rocket stove with an excellent design. Here's what I think:

First Impressions

My first impression of the stove -- for the most part -- was very positive. It comes wrapped in professional-looking packaging that comes shipped in a well protected box. I did notice when initially checking things over that there were a few screws (mainly the doors and one of the door handles) that required some tightening up. But beyond that, it's appears to be a solidly built stove that will last a long time. When you first look at the EcoZoom stove, you'll probably notice how similar in design it is with the Stovetec version of the rocket stove. That is probably because it likely made from the same manufacturer. Despite the similarities, there are a number of differences when compared to the Stovetec version of the rocket stove I have which I feel make this EcoZoom rocket stove a superior product. *Note: Stovetec now appears to make the "Deluxe Wood or Charcoal Metal Lined 2 Door Stove" which for all extents and purposes appears to be the same as the "Zoom Versa" stove. However, since I cannot comment specifically on that stove I will be comparing the Zoom Versa with the Stovetec Wood and Charcoal model I have.

Features of the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove

One of the things I didn't like about the Stovetec stove was it's 3 pronged pot-support design. With smaller pots, I had to have the botttom of the pot positioned perfectly on the pot supports or else it would kip over. With Ecozoom's design of six pot-supports, the smaller pots stay on without issue. This design also allows one to easily use a wok or other round bottom pot.

Charcoal and Wood Doors

This is one of the main improvements I feel the Ecozoom stove has made compared to the Stovetec version I have. The doors are a much better designed. The Stovetec doors, being made of thin metal, had no hinges and required that you slide them on and off. To me they always felt a bit flimsy and I thought that after repeated use that the door channels would eventually would wear down and become less effective over time or worse, break. The EcoZoom Versa doors are solidly made with a reinforced metal frame. The hinged design of the doors allows for easy opening and closing (which was a bit of a pain with the Stovetec stove I have) to change up fuels or to regulate airflow.

Metal-Lined Combustion Chamber

Another great improvement the EcoZoom Versa has made over my original rocket stove is including a metal-lined combustion chamber. Both rocket stoves feature an insulative ceramic chamber that allows these stoves to be so efficient however, since the ceramic chamber is quite brittle it can easily succumb to wear with repeated insertion of wood (which will scrape off the sides and back of the chamber over time). The EcoZoom Versa's metal-lined chamber will contribute to a longer-lasting stove. They also include an additional grate (replaceable) to help protect the built-in grate when cooking with charcoal:Firing up the EcoZoom rocket stove is done in the same way I demonstrated in my video review of the Stovetec stove. In case you missed it I'll lay it out here:


Before I can fire up the stove I'll typically gather the following:
  • Several two-thumb thickness sticks (these can be whole sticks or sticks split with an axe or knife like in the picture below)
  • A few pencil to pinky thickness sticks
  • Some matches and
  • Some form of tinder (either dry grass, pine needles, or in this picture a cotton ball mixed with some Vaseline)

Firing Up the Stove

Firing up the stove is a fairly easy process:
Step 1: Fill burn chamber with small sticks.
Step 2: Light the tinder and place in lower compartment.
Step 3: Place wood rack in front of stove.
Step 4: Insert three to four of the larger sticks in the upper compartment.
Step 5: Cook food.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned in the article, the EcoZoom Versa stove is very much like the current Stovetec wood-charcoal stove that I own. And while the Stovetec stove is an excellent product, I was very impressed with the EcoZoom stove finding it to be superior in design and manufacture. Having a means of cooking off-grid is of utmost importance when times get tough and it doesn't get much more efficient or better than a rocket stove. This is definitely on my list of recommended products.

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