This winter has been horribly cold for most of us, with snow and ice like we haven’t seen for a very long time. Our wood stove has been blazing almost non-stop (thank goodness for all of the free wood we’ve been able to gather!).
As we dream and plan for going off-grid, one thing we’ve thought a lot about is how to cook food without electricity. We do have a wood cook stove in our workshop, but it would take some major renovating to get it installed in our current kitchen. We could cook on it where it is, but it would be very impractical for me as I’d have to haul all of the children to the workshop with me every time I wanted to cook (and it isn’t exactly toddler proof up there). We do have plans for a summer kitchen, but who knows how long it’ll be before that gets built from the scavenged materials we’ve been accumulating. There are so many options for off-grid cooking, it’s just a matter of finding the right combination of methods best suited for our situation.
The EcoZoom Stove
One product that is becoming a popular option for off-grid cooking is the EcoZoom Stove. These rocket stoves are incredibly efficient, using very little fuel to cook a meal. The Versa model can burn wood, charcoal, or even dried biomass (dried plant materials, dried corn cobs, dried dung, pine needles, etc), which makes it a versatile stove to have for emergencies. I recently had an opportunity to test the Versa out, and was very impressed with the results.
If weight is an issue for you, they do make lighter EcoZoom models such as the Zoom Dura Lite which weighs 13 lbs.
As for smoke, there really wasn’t any. In a survival situation where you wouldn’t want other people to be drawn to your location, a smokeless cooking source would be a great asset. The manual does warn that if you use too much fuel, or wet fuel, it can cause the stove to put off a lot of smoke, so you would want to make sure you used the right materials.
After flipping the egg and transferring it to a plate to cool, my toddler came over and sat down to help himself. Then of course I had to make one for each of the kids. I think the fact that it was cooked over a cool little stove made the eggs even more appealing to them.
To boil a gallon of water I used 3-4 pieces of wood like you see in the picture (2-3″ wide, about a foot long). It took less than 15 minutes to bring the water to a light boil. Considering that my flat top stove takes just a little less time than that, I was very pleased with these results.
I look forward to experimenting more with this stove, and learning how to be most efficient with the damper doors.
Pros & Cons
There are several factors making EcoZoom Stoves a great alternative cooking option.
- They use very little fuel, and you can scavenge pretty much any dried materials from around the yard to burn in it.
- They’re made with high quality materials, and are designed for everyday use.
- They produce little to no smoke when burning the proper materials.
- They’re small and lightweight enough to transport easily.
- They don’t require any installation or chimney as other stoves do.
- They’re much more efficient than campfire cooking or cooking over a more traditional wood stove.
- They make cooking over a fire easy enough for anyone to do.
As much as I love them, there are a few things to keep in mind when considering an EcoZoom.
- They’re probably too heavy to take with you on a backpacking trip.
- You can’t use them indoors.
- They don’t make a good source of heat (unless you can modify it somehow).
- Not a good option for emergency cooking in bad weather unless you have an open shelter.
- You can only cook one thing at a time, unless you buy the Plancha model.
Wood Heated Hot Water
I was also excited to find out that you can use an EcoZoom stove to create hot water without the use of any electricity. (See video below.)
This might very well be a great option for our off-grid needs.
Where Can I Buy An EcoZoom?
Check out EcoZoomStove.com for all available products and for more information.
A city girl learning to homestead on an acre of land in the country. Wife and homeschooling mother of four. Enjoying life, and everything that has to do with self sufficient living.