Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Pull my finger...

Clark and I work great together out in the woods. Quicksand? Not a problem! Feral hogs? We'll take them on! Deadly snakes? Perfect for a game of catch! Stopping the bleeding? Direct pressure and elevation! Lunch?


Um, okay maybe we don't match up perfectly on everything...

It was cold (for Texas) on our first adventure together. We had stopped along the bank of Spring Creek to eat. Being a nice guy I pulled out a extra container of Bowl Noodle for him. I think this stuff is great. Yummy noodles, dried bits of processed food material, and salt all in a disposible bowl!

Clark, well, he didn't share my enthusiasm. After politely declining my bowl of miracle food he pulled out his lunch: a slab of meatloaf on homemade herb bread, a well-padded peach, and a giant slice of homemade chocolate cake (with chocolate frosting) for dessert.

Since then I've watched him pack traditional Polish multi-course meals, assorted gourmet sandwiches, and muffins the size of grapefruit. Me? Noodles, noodles, noodles, and gorp.

Basically, I'm lazy (for a guy who considers a twenty-mile hike "reasonable"). I want my pack as light as possible and this means a minimalist cook set. My current set-up is a home-built batch-loaded, inverted down-draft gassifier stove.

This thing is great. I just throw in a large handful of 1" long twigs, light the top, let it burn for a minute, then let physics take over.
The fire burns from the top of the pile down. Air is drawn from the side of the stove and down past the fire chamber. This heats up the air so that as it passes up through the wood it distills out the volitale woodgas which begins burning. This vaporous woodgas gets distilled from all the wood and the wood itself is converted to charcoal. This charcoal then begins burning after all the woodgas has burnt. The charcoal then burns down to nothing but a fine ash. The whole process takes about fifteen minutes and releases a tremendous amount of heat. I can have 24 oz of boiling water in about six minutes. The thing was made out of several soup and juice cans which fit snuggly inside each other. It weighs only a few onces and as long as there are some twigs around I don't have to lug fuel. An extra benefit is that once it's working it burns smoke-free, making it great for stealth meals (sidenote: Texas really needs more public wilderness).

Packed for travel:

All the parts:

Loaded with wood:

Ready to go:

The downsides to this stove are that it is a bit bulky and that it's only really good for boiling water. When I want a smaller setup I take my pop can stove. This fits down in my steel cup along with a small bottle of alcohol fuel and can heat up a can of chili or fry up Spam-n-eggs with heat to spare. If people are interested I'll write about it sometime.

Adventure! Excitement! Gas in the Woods!


CrazyRideLady said...

That is so very cool! I want to make one of these with the boys this summer. Maybe on one our trips into the North Woods. Got any other cool stuff we could build and use?

family-guy92 said...

cool this is the first woodgas stove ive seen without a fan and some eletronics. i see you are useing an energy drink kettle with a cork was this made out of two cans or was it baught like that?

Merriwether the Adventurer said...

Hey, thanks for the e-mail. The energy drink kettle is a single can which fits beautifly into this setup. I posted two more articles about this stove on my blog, including info on exactly what can was used for each part. Go to:

and scroll down a little bit. You see the posts.