Rocket mass heaters are super-efficient, clean-burning, wood-fired heaters, built with earthen and reclaimed materials. We'll demonstrate the fire science and earth-friendly techniques (including cob, formed insulation, and cold-working scrap metal) behind these marvelous masonry heaters. Our class will open with an evening of Fire Science Theater that introduces key steps in the evolution of home-heating. On Saturday and Sunday we continue with hands-on practice, building and test-firing several working examples including simple fireboxes, an insulated Rocket Mass Heater combustion core, and Pocket Rockets suitable for emergency heating or camp kitchens.

Course start time: Friday, 5pm
Course end time: Sunday, 5pm


  • Competency Level: All Levels

Course Syllabus

Friday evening.

5pm - Campus Orientation; meet other participants and the instructors; discussion of course objective, goals, and schedule.

6pm - Dinner.

After dinner - Sit by the fire, and as the evening darkens we'll discuss and demonstrate the evolution of heating, cooking, and working with fire. We'll preview several devices that you will see again, or build, later in the course.


Saturday will include a "hands-on" session, a "minds-on" session, and a design review. The timing of these sessions may adjust to actual weather conditions.  The day starts at 8:30am, and ends at 5:30pm.

Session 1 will be hands-on, outdoors. Participants will help gather materials including firewood, kindling, bricks, and scrap metal, and build examples of rocket-type combustion chambers for tea stoves, kilns, or mass heaters. We will practice basic masonry techniques, including cob/earthen mortar mixing, stabilized Perlite insulation, setting and leveling bricks, and various chimney options. Bring your boots, work gloves, and all-weather gear.

Session 2 will review the fundamental principles behind rocket stoves and rocket mass heaters, addressing any questions from the hands-on demonstrations so far. Then we'll examine some clever stoves from around the world, including configurations for cooking, baking, camping, home heating, and special applications. Plans are available for further study.

At the end of the day, we allow a short time for a mini- design charrette. Participants may present their own design ideas or projects, and the group offers constructive responses based on our learning so far. Recommended reading to get the most out of this session is the book, Rocket Mass Heaters. No one is required to present designs - it can be just as useful to thoroughly explore someone else's project idea, but we will divide the time between those who want to participate.


The day starts at 8:30am, and ends at 5:30pm.  We will build the Pocket Rocket, an offshoot of the Rocket Stove and Rocket Mass Heater. Made from recycled or inexpensive materials, it can replace an outdoor wood burner or fire pit for increased fuel efficiency and decreased smoke pollution.  A good emergency stove for car camping.

Students will work with basic metal tools such as tin snips, learn about sourcing and cleaning reclaimed metal for projects, and practice building and tending a fire in a downdraft wood stove (a uniquely upside-down experience from any other wood burning device). After a basic tool-safety review, we break up into small teams to work with a variety of materials. If you definitely want to take home your own personal pocket rocket, we recommend bringing a metal bucket, oil can, or barrel, with lid, in the size you prefer.

After firing up our prototypes and comparing results, we wrap up with a final question-and-answer session. As time allows, we will answer questions by building actual examples.


Class Readings:

The book, Rocket Mass Heaters: Superefficient Woodstoves YOU Can Build, by Ianto Evans and Leslie Jackson, will be available for purchase. We highly recommend that you read this book before the workshop, so that you can get the most from your prototyping and design-review opportunities.

Download the book for paperless reading pleasure:

Watch a video about Rocket Stoves:


What to Bring:


We will be outdoors much of the time, so please wear all-weather gear that you can get muddy or burn holes in. Mud boots, sun hats, and work gloves are encouraged. (The most useful gloves will be either insulated leather, or those dextrous dipped-cloth gloves.)


Basic tools and materials will be provided. You may care to bring

- a small notebook or recording device (camera, phone),
- Personal tools you may already have, such as Leatherman, tinsnips, hammer and punch, and/or masonry tools.  Please label all tools or notebooks so you can easily retrieve them at the dark end of the day.
- Any projects, plans, or parts that you would like to work with during the course.

We will provide written handouts illustrating the essential course info. You may wish to purchase a copy of the book Rocket Mass Heaters prior to the workshop; they will also be available for purchase from the instructors.

 We look forward to meeting you and having a muddy, sooty, fascinating, and inspirational time together.