Prepping 101: The $100 Survival Woodstove

The $100 wood stove is currently on sale for $79 on Ebay. A year ago it was $57, so if you want one don't delay. Other portable stoves are already up into the $200 range.

The $100 wood stove is currently on sale for $79 on Ebay. A year ago it was $57, so if you want one don’t delay. Other portable stoves are already up into the $200 range.

If you live in the northern climes it is getting to be that time of year again where you worry about getting caught in the cold with no electricity and no chance of it coming back on anytime soon. As I explained in my article on water, the best thing you can do to guarantee yourself fresh drinking water and a warm enough place to sleep is to build a greenhouse. If you have the land, a greenhouse will melt your water all winter long, no matter how cold it gets. You can also put a tent inside your greenhouse and sleep in there, and with the double insulation, it will be warm enough, most of the time. A supplemental wood stove or other alternative heating system certainly won’t hurt, and I found a really inexpensive stove that works great. And even if you aren’t in the cold, it doubles as a great cookstove for cheap money.

I bought my stove for $57 with free shipping on Ebay. That was about a year ago, and today I can’t find it cheaper than $79 (free shipping) on either Ebay or Amazon. Like many things survival, there has been a bunch of hidden inflation because the demand is fairly high and China just isn’t giving away free stuff anymore.

The stove comes with four lengths of straight pipe and those two warmers for the sides.

The stove comes with four lengths of straight pipe and those two warmers for the sides. There is also a rack across the top for a stock pot or dutch oven.


This stove can be found under search terms “portable wood stove” on Ebay and Amazon, as well as “TMS Stove” which is the company that makes it in China. TMS is the only company selling them on Amazon right now, directly from the factory. Note that there has been a prepper sale on Ebay of late and I found a sold out ad for this stove for $54. So if you want to wait and see if they replenish that, by all means wait. The hard freezes are still a month away for a lot of people still.

There are two main weaknesses to this stove. One is that the door is not gasketed. If you want to improve the performance, you can seal the door with wood stove gasket rope, and it will make a substantial difference in how long your fuel lasts through the night, because you can throttle the heat back with a much slower burn. The other problem is that the paint is not heat paint, so it burns right off the first time you use the stove, then it will rust.

If you are unfamiliar with wood stoves, they retain efficiency in the use of your fuel by limiting the air intake to the fire. Wood needs oxygen to burn, so by throttling back the burn, the wood lasts longer. An open fire with unlimited air burns very hot for a short amount of time, so if you are in a building, tent or greenhouse with not a lot of insulation, it will get hot, too hot, then the heat will all leak out and you’ll be cold very shortly after. A wood stove will burn cooler and longer, so that you can go to sleep and wake up to a warm living space.

This is the kit as it comes out of the box. Most of it fits inside the stove.

This is the kit as it comes out of the box. Most of it fits inside the stove.


Real wood stoves are made with thick cast iron usually, and will last indefinitely. They also come with the fiberglass rope gasket and they are very controllable. They don’t go for $100, so this $100 stove is thin sheet metal. It will rust out at some point under daily use. You’ll make it through the first winter with it most likely, which will give you the whole next year to come up with something else. (or you can just buy two) You can also find cheap wood stoves at flea markets and yardsales, and there is really no such thing as a not working wood stove. It is just a big piece of cast iron, though it might need a new gasket for 6 bucks.

One of the weaknesses of this stove is that it doesn’t have a bent pipe. As you can see from the pictures, it does have a very tall pipe, but it is straight. this is fine for the corner of your greenhouse because you can make a stove jack for it in the corner (don’t put the stove closer than 36″ from the walls). In a tent, there is a stove jack on Ebay you can get for $69 that will allow you to use a straight pipe without having a bend. But in a house, where you will be putting the stove pipe out a window (preferably with a stove jack in the window), you really need a bent pipe, and there is no easy fit. If you plan to put this stove in your prepper gear, in advance go to Home Depot and pick up a heat rated pipe that will bend to be able to use your stove through a window. Make the stove jack at the same time. Ideally, test it.

The biggest issue I have with the stove is that the hole is too small for anything but branches and small splits.

The biggest issue I have with the stove is that the hole is too small for anything but branches and small splits.


Inside, in a house, you can’t be too careful with a wood stove. Get a steel plate to put it on, and make sure that your exhaust pipe is solid, sealed well and tested. This is not something you want to mess around with. If you live where it gets below freezing, you should be testing your prepping solution no matter what, and taking every precaution to prevent a fire.

Note that this $100 stove comes with two food warmers for the sides. There is currently a version for sale on Ebay right now for $94 that comes with an additional water heating container that sits along side the exhaust pipe. This is probably the best buy in the stove right now.

There is a nice cleanout built into the stove, and as you can see, the rear has ventilation holes, as does the bottom, so you can really control the burn even without gaskets.

There is a nice cleanout built into the stove, and as you can see, the rear has ventilation holes, as does the bottom, so you can really control the burn even without gaskets.


The main thing I don’t like about this stove is that you have to split your wood very thin for it to fit in the door. This is a product of not actually buying a real wood stove, but you can find this issue even with old pot belly wood stoves. The doors are very small. This sheet metal stove is made for branches and other pickups you would find camping or rely upon for a survival situation. Is it perfect? No, it’s kinda lame, but if you don’t have a lot of time or money to put into your wood stove solution, it’s a pretty good stop gap kind of stove to make sure you have something.
The stove comes with a nice dissipator. Hunters don't like to advertise their camp, and neither do preppers.

The stove comes with a nice dissipator. Hunters don’t like to advertise their camp, and neither do preppers.


I haven’t actually lit my stove because I have no use for it down here in South Florida as a heater. And as a cookstove it would be a 3rd tier backup to other systems I already have in place (though I’m glad to have it). I got the information about the paint burning off from the Amazon reviews, and if you look at the several offerings you’ll see lots of tips on how to make the stove work well for you. I ordered one to see just how well it was made, and I think it is a great buy even at $100. It weighs less than 30 lbs and is extremely portable, as compared to even a small real wood stove needing two people to lift it. This is a great survival tool and buying it is only a click away. Don’t leave yourself in the cold. This stove is a great little investment.
This is the integral water kettle that fits against the stovepipe. It seems worth the extra money, and right now they are on sale.

This is the integral water kettle that fits against the stovepipe. It seems worth the extra money, and right now they are on sale.

{ 20 comments… add one }
  • Jeff May 4, 2016, 10:35 am

    I have one of these and use it for heating my tiny house. It dose a FAIR job, but it is hard to put any “keeper logs” into it as it is not very airtight. I did cut out the grate and added 6 fire bricks to it, 2 on the bottom and 2 on each side, this has greatly improved its ability to maintain heat.

  • Larry April 1, 2016, 1:47 pm

    In a survival situation, with bad guys out hunting for food, weapons and other supplies, I don’t think that I’m going to stink up the area, for miles around, and tell the bad guys that there’s someone with food (otherwise, why have a fire?).
    I prefer the MSR XGK stove – it can run on almost ANY fuel and can be put in a bug-out bag; whereas, that contraption looks sort of hard to drag around. I use a SVEA 123 for warm weather, and this stove for anything below freezing.
    https://www.rei.com/product/722001/msr-xgk-ex-stove
    Quote: Here’s what Backpacker Magazine had to say about the MSR XGK EX stove in its March 2006 Gear Guide issue: “This enduring multifuel stove is back and badder than ever . . . the XGK is our choice when the mercury slips way below freezing or we head overseas where fuel choices are limited.”
    Just be sure to buy a spare parts kit for the pump; it’s cheap, light and you will, eventually, need it if the stove is used daily, for months/years. https://www.rei.com/product/714949/msr-xgk-expedition-service-kit

  • SmokeHillFarm November 4, 2015, 3:31 am

    Furnace cement was briefly mentioned in one of the posts, and I believe it should be stressed more strongly. If youi haven’t used this inexpensive, MARVELOUS stuff, go buy some. You can repair or modify stoves, and a whole lot else. It should be in everyone’s SHTF toolbox, right next to duct tape and baling wire. You can spread it with a putty knife or stick, it sets up in almost any shape, and it will resist amazing heat. I suspect it is nearly identical to the old “muffler cement” that used to be available in all auto parts stores until State inspections pretty much killed the market. It definitely works on rusted out mufflers and manifolds, which is a good enough reason in itself to keep it around if you plan on using any vehicle or engine (like a generator). Eventually your exhaust system will go, and you don’t always want to advertise your presence with loud noise.

    This stuff will quickly patch up furnaces, auto radiators, any type of stove — you name it. Did I mention it is CHEAP, and stores for years in its can? It spreads like peanut butter and solidifies into a heat-proof concrete-like solid. With some imagination, and petroleum jelly, you can also repair stripped screw threads with it. Go buy several cans. Most large hardware stores carry it, or no doubt it’s available online.

    While you’re in the hardware store, if you ever plan on using any type of stove (other than a rocket stove), pick up a good supply of stove gasket material. Eventually, you’re going to need it if you use a wood stove, fireplace insert, or anything else where a proper draft is important.

  • GrouchyJohn July 6, 2015, 12:36 pm

    You said: ” Get a steel plate to put it on”. I would suggest that as a big no-no if you intend on putting that piece of steel on a wood or carpeted floor. A thin sheet of steel will transfer heat pretty quickly, on a wood/carpeted floor that heat would go straight through, and POOF, you have the same problem you would have with no protection at all. A sheet of DUROCK Brand 0.5-in x 36-in x 60-in Fiber Cement Backer Board or another product of the same type is pretty well fireproof, tough enough to hold the weight of the stove and sturdy enough to last for years. $10.47 at Lowe’s .

  • bullet bob January 1, 2015, 5:24 pm

    Seems like the conversation is about two kinds of stoves. One to heat a living space and one to cook. For about $170 Harbor Freight has a nice cast iron stove, I heat my 20X40 work shop with it, found a cast iron tea kettle at a yard sale. What more do I need?
    And while on the subject of Primis type stoves, lets look back at the one our family used, Coleman, 2 or three burners, I think my family had one that would burn kerosene.
    I really liked the idea of a green house.

  • TEN/6 December 31, 2014, 5:23 am

    Admin – Thanks for this discussion. Was really useful.

    Doc – Truly outstanding commentary both insightful and useful. Many thanks for your time. I had a SVEA 123 back in the 70’s and it was great – my parents gave it away I think when I was in the Marines….thanks Mom! So I lately have tried the various $10 Amazon ChiCom butane stoves which work great btw and equal most of the high end ones I have tried. But really, how long will you see little butane canisters after SHTF? So the Russian stove is now no my to do list. I had a Coleman Multi-Fuel which was kinda crappy. I sent it back to them and they fixed it but I read someplace where they did not function well w/o Coleman fuel. Clearly, I need an alternative and this is it.
    Much appreciate your comments on Move vs Stay as well as the morality of of our actions. I think that’s an important topic for us to consider – Admin?- – what say ye? – do we remain civilized during conflict or do we descend into something else? In my naive heart I want to think Americans are different but we are not. I think some of the mob events over the past few years have very clearly told us we will be facing some very stupid, sick, and ignorant people. I know a lot of people will see this as a color issue but it is not. It’s a people issue. So dealing with them will be extremely hard. I think a look at ISIS and all the westerners gravitating to islamic terrorism are an indicator of the possibilities – beheading, rape, torture, slavery et cetera. We met and defeated a LOT of those bastards early on in Iraq (I was there 3x) and the brutality we witnessed cannot be discounted for I think they represent what we (human beings) are capable of – whether we choose to be like them is something we must all grapple with.

    I’m off topic here too but thank both you Doc and Admin for allowing the discussion to go on.

  • Doc November 11, 2014, 5:53 pm

    need to use wood? here’s a light weight DIY ‘rocket’ stove that will work with wood – larger versions can heat homes.
    http://rocketstoves.org/

  • Russ November 11, 2014, 4:21 pm

    a cheap wood stove, DIY. LOL.
    I like going light. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=WfRovJ1KcCg

  • Doc November 10, 2014, 5:59 pm

    Don’t know why I’m so obsessed about this subject – but here is a Russian copy of the Optimus Hiker — this is NOT like the one I have, mine is more oblong, is a TAD taller in the lid (maybe for a cup?), and has a brass tank. But if you look at the price, $30 for an ‘all fuel Soviet stove’, and the Swedish Optimus Hiker at $170-$200, you can see what a deal these stoves are.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/New-unused-MIB-Russian-camp-hiker-stove-same-as-Optimus-R8-/171533703504?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item27f0349950

    I hope that link works – if not copy and paste it’s good for a few more days – and is REALLY worth a look. THAT is the kind of stove you want — The Soviet Union might not have been as gadget happy as we are, but they sure made a lot of there stuff to las. . . . . . and last. . . . . . and last. THIS stove is one of those things that has. I’ve used one for the past 15 years when I hike in Northern Nevada and it has NEVER not worked. I even took a small container of diesel fuel with me in the first year or so to see if it worked in cold Nevada winter temperatures, and by golly, one the tank self-pressurized she worked like a champ. A tad sooty with the diesel fuel, but she worked. Mixed with a little gasoline make it work FAR cleaner – Best $10 I ever spent. And with the price difference of $140 – $160+ — Comrade, I’d say the Soviet’s stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Once it warms up she’s ready to cook or heat or light your way (the bottom stays cool so you can hold it in the palm of your hand with your fingers on the bottom part of the curve to keep it stable). Just a nifty little stove – and for around $30, you CAN’T go wrong.

    • TE/6 December 31, 2014, 5:27 am

      Doc – Bummer. Checked ebay – all gone – the stove was listed at $40.95 plus $35 shipping. Will look for alternatives. Thanks for the tip!

  • Doc November 10, 2014, 4:32 pm

    Here’s the link for a stove like the Soviet stove I mentioned above, it looks far smaller than the Soviet stove, but they did take the clue and put it in a steel box like they did. The Soviets also used a brass fuel tank.

    http://www.optimusstoves.com/seen/optimus-products/products/katadynshopconnect/optimus-outdoor-kocher/optimus-hiker/

    It’s worth a good look since I sure don’t know the name of the Soviet stove. I found them on E-bay maybe 15 years ago so have no clue if they are still around, I imagine that they are findable, if not, this is a close second.

  • Doc November 10, 2014, 3:52 pm

    Here is an example of a five star review from Amazon:

    “This stove did need to have paint burned off with weed torch and repainted with high temp stove paint prior to use. I did follow the advice of other reviewers on closing the back air vent and building a better door latch. Also fabricated a damper flap from a piece of lawn edging and installed it on inside of front door opening. Easy enough with two stainless cotterpins and a steel rod. This allows the opening of door without the backlash of smoke, it pushes inward when restoking the stove. I use it in a 6×12 enclosed trailer that hauls my 4 wheelers and converts to a cozy camper when unloaded. Stove will roast you out if you load it too full, even during spring turkey season in the Colorado high country. I really enjoy how it breaks down and stores everything inside to travel with. All my buddies are planing on installing one in there campers due to the heat produced and cost to run it (free wood vs. propane and batteries). I cut up oak palletes to use, deffinately keep the fire to the back of stove if you dont want the smoke out the front door when loading. I found it was easier to make the damper flap then fight with the smoke. For what I paid I couldn’t even by the steal to make one.”

    Now correct me if I’m wrong – but didn’t he say he had to re-build and re-engineer the stove for it to work?

    Yeah, that’s what I thought it said too.

    • Administrator November 11, 2014, 10:13 am

      No that isn’t what he said. He is a tinkerer so he figured out how to make the stove even better, so good that people use it to heat campers instead of propane, safely. Take your head out of your behind. The world is a much friendlier and more helpful place like that.

      • Doc November 11, 2014, 9:18 pm

        Administrator, — if the stove worked, why did he have to make it better? I call his work necessary to make it work correctly. You, yourself, called it a ‘third tier backup’. Why did you place it so low if it’s such a great stove? The price? A Rocket Heater can be built for the cost of a cut and a couple of welds.

        I REALLY don’t want to sound hostile, just pointing out the obvious pit falls with the stove as you did with the double barrel in a ‘moving’ situation. Here is another solution I’ve just (as of yesterday) fallen in love with: the ‘rocket stove’ — with a steel plate placed on the horizontal burn tube, and over the draft, this could work for both heating and cooking in a mobile environment. Change out the fixed legs for lock-in-place legs, and you have a mobile stove that burns VERY little wood, and puts out a very high heat.

        From TexasPrepper2:
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDU3-y8tFEA

        And then a discussion (the audio isn’t synced) about variations, and comparisons of an ‘omega’ stove (plain rocket stove) to a Rocket Mass Heater (thermal mass heater):
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDU3-y8tFEA

        You could even use the ‘omega stove’ with the flue run though a pile of rocks to get a thermal mass to radiate heat during the night if you build it low to the ground. The rock would sap the heat from the exhaust leaving you a cool exhaust temperature.

        And I suspect that a 2.x” –> 4″ or 5″ stove pipe adapter wold make the China made stove work the way it ought to since it would have a far better draw.

        I THINK the idea here is to share knowledge and ideas, and critiquing ideas is a way to find better solutions, not start a squabble.

        • Administrator November 11, 2014, 9:34 pm

          We are actually going to cover the rocket stove that alex jones sells, but they are far more expensive. All of the gastketed stoves are in the $300 range. This is a stove that works for well under $100, and if you want to test it yourself you can improve it for very little money as well. The far more practical method of surviving the winter is to build a greenhouse, as it says, but again, more expensive. The people who are this column is trying to help aren’t the guys with reserves at the missile silo bunkers or that have flatscreens in their own subterranean fallout shelter. This entire series is for people who are on a budget and trying to fiddle together the lowest common denominator to have a shot.

          • Doc November 12, 2014, 3:40 pm

            Administrator, the link at the bottom-most post needs to be scrolled down to see the video – a rocket stove for the price of a couple of pieces of stove pipe and a tin can. (And a tin-snip, file, hammer, and screwdriver – things which most people would have in their absolutely necessary tool kit, along with the other tools that will be necessary, i.e. a cross cut bow saw, ax, and mall if they are in a vehicle).

            This shows you how to build that stove. Scroll down to the video.
            http://rocketstoves.org/
            He says he got the idea from Aprovecho. Here’s their link:
            http://www.aprovecho.org/lab/rad/rl/stove-design/category/1

            THAT is just the stove page, but back up the URL to just http://www.aprovecho.org, and you are at their home page.
            Mostly PDF documents.

            Remember, unless people are planning on a nomadic hunter-gather life-style (on foot? or do they know how to saddle and ride and care for a horse, do they know how to harness a horse or mule or burro to a wagon, or make and tie a pack saddle, etc.)— or to become a ‘gang’ and ‘raid’ other settlers they are going to need to settle down. That means two different caches of knowledge; how to move, and how to stay. Sometimes the same information can be used both on the move, and where you end up staying.

            Thus, moving you probably want a .223 or some variant of a .30 cal to move with, but when you ‘stay’ you will want a .22LR kind of rifle, and a good HUNTING shot gun since most large animals will go away very rapidly. That leaves birds and rodents for protein. In the ‘Wild West’ it wasn’t so much the bore rifle that sustained a family, but the shotgun. Pistols were not all that common among ‘settlers’. But in this day and age you may need one to get where you are going. And to keep what you have. The skill set for ‘moving’ and ‘staying’ are about the same, except that the caliber changes, and your primary weapon for survival is the shotgun rather than a 30 cal or what ever cal pistol you choose. Eating comes pretty much first – it’s just below air and water. And unless you are growing your own food within the first two years, you are probably not going to live except by raiding others who have settled, and depriving THEIR families or communities of THEIR food.

            A lot of moral questions come up. (And, yeah, I was in ‘Nam, and we did a lot of taking away and ‘raiding’ Gook villages, didn’t make what we did right, but a bunch of frustrated 18 to 20-somethings do what they think is necessary. I hope we have all learned our lessons. Just because we know how to do something, doesn’t mean we have to do it.)

            So there are TWO stages, 1) to move to where you are going and 2) setting up when you are there. The fewer calories and time you spend on one activity gives you far more for others.

            I live rural, and have planned my home-away-from home even more rural — rural enough that I don’t suspect I’ll have a lot of company other than a small group that can share the most precious resources around: division of labor, and our own commitment to specific knowledge bases. “It takes a village” is not just some Liberal balderdash, if a culture is going to move quickly back to a ‘civilization’ of some kind and with some kind of order it will take FAR more knowledge that I have or could ever become expert in. It takes GROUP KNOWLEDGE.

            And in the beginning it also takes (dare I say it?) a SOCIALIST organization, where each member of the group does their work, and the entire group benefits from that help. In the beginning people don’t hold out their skill for MORE of something – water, food, blankets, shelter – the GROUP is what will kept the individual alive. THAT is why we are ascended from SOCIAL animals, groups can do FAR more work FAR more easily than a single individual or family. In both ‘protecting’ and in ‘producing’.

            But I’m off topic now. BUT — one more point before I go: Archeological evidence shows that early man, and Medieval homes had an abundance of three things: blankets, bowls, and spoons. Early man had weapons among the top 5 items found, while most Medieval peasants did not, though they did have knives.

            It would seem to me that if we are looking towards a very low-tech re-boot of our culture and society, we would do well to learn from those who have been there before us, only without many of the high-tech equivalents we have now: Early Man had skins, Medieval Man had wool blankets and skins, Modern Man has Space Age synthetic fabrics and fillers that will be in very high demand WTSHTF.

            Ammo — Early Man traded a lot of things to get good ammo (good flaking rock blanks, or pre-made flaked knives, spears, arrow heads, and say scraping tools for the fat on the inside of skin). There will always be a market for Ammo. Like one of my friends forced me to point out to him when he was talking about hording gold he’s gotten from rivers around us (he’s a placer miner, and has the gold fever pretty bad). All I had to say was, when he insisted on the continued value of gold, “Ok, I’ll give you 1 ounce of gold for a box of .270 Ammo.” And he burst out laughing. See the point? I see yours — mobility on a budget. But I don’t see the ‘settle in on a budget’. Unless you are going to live a Raiders life-style, and that gets very dangerous after a very short time — as we found out in ‘Nam. We won every battle, dropped more ordinance than all of WWII combined, and lost the war. Huh?

            I suspect the same thing will hold true for anyone living a ‘raiding’ life-style. Eventually there will be punji stakes and nasty arrows that leave festering infections, and ambushes to take the raiders down. In the end it is the communities that will survive. And with good firearms that have been cached, there won’t be a Seven Samurai, 7 Samurai go to the wild west (Magnificent Seven) or 7 Samurai go to outer space (Battle Beyond the Stars) situation arising. One thing that Universal Conscription did was produce the ‘Civilian Soldier’ – anyone in their 20’s knows how to use a firearm, blow up bridges, set up an ambush, stay concealed, etc. Now we don’t have that advantage. The Government doesn’t have to be afraid of 100 million plus civilians who know how to use firearms and make tactical decisions.

            Now I’m WAY off topic, and will shut up. Did NOT mean to hi-jack the thread, just saying that prepping is for TWO purposes: to get to where you CAN settle, and then settling. Nomads don’t have really great life spans, or a very high quality of life. It’s complicated.

    • JohnyV November 11, 2014, 1:24 pm

      Vann7, if you believe that, you are extremely naive, ignorant or a mix of both sadly! Mexican drug cartels are being fueled by the weapons from the massively corrupt Mexican military and law enforcement, not the US civilian semi-auto only guns! Wake up pal! Drug cartels NEED/what military grade weapons/machine guns to keep on top of other drug cartels , not US semi-auto only guns which are made to resemble their real select fire big brothers. Yes, Obama and his treasonous crew tried to destroy our gun rights here in the US by ILLEGALLY planting our civilian semi-auto only guns to Mexican criminals…. but thankfully we found out what he was trying to do.
      Do some US guns end up in Mexico, of course but the VAST MAJORITY of drug cartels are supplied with advanced military grade weapons/machine guns from the openly corrupt Mexican military and law enforcement, never mind the flood of Central American military weapons pouring into Mexican cartels as well…. The only people buying into the fantasy story that most of the drug cartels are getting their guns from US civilian stores are either extremely naive, ignorant or have a US gun grab agenda. So if you believe that BILLION $$ DRUG CARTELS would rather have semi-auto only US civilian gun over advanced real military weapons easily assessable from the plague of corrupt Mexican military soldiers and commanders… well I have a bridge to sell you. lol

  • Doc November 10, 2014, 3:47 pm

    Looks like a piece of crap. And when I read the 1 star through 3 star reports they ALL mention toxic paint burn-off in first few fires, and a HUGE smoke leak problem that dove most people outside it was so thick. The alternative to this stove is to get a heavier stove. Thus, the deciding factor is weight vs. working right.

    I’ve lived MANY years without power or gas (read: wood stoves only – heating and cooking) in my early years and can suggest a FAR better way to get a GOOD stove that WILL work: get a kit to adapt a 55 gallon drum. (and when the drum eventually burns through, you can pull off the ‘stove kit’ and get another barrel and you have a new stove for the price of that new barrel).

    You don’t need a 55 gallon drum, you can use a 20-25 gallon stove with some of the bolt-on hardware. In a kit you get legs, and a good cast iron door that you can seal with stove cement, and a cast iron standard 6 inch flue. They are curved for the curve of a 55 gallon stove so you may have to build a ledge of stove cement to make it fit, or search longer and find an adapter kit for your smaller diameter barrel.

    You can even get a double barrel stove, where the second barrel is mounted above the first, high enough that you can get to things you would like to keep warm or cook on a ‘griddle’ of flat cast iron that bolts to the top (generally NOT included in a kit, it’s an extra). Thus exhaust heat from the bottom barrel flows into the second barrel to radiate more heat, then exits via a flue. AND you don’t worry much about creosote build up (chimney fires, clogged pipes) if you are running a cool fire in the bottom barrel. Ingenious people will be able to cut a hole in the end of the second barrel and insert an oven so the heat from the bottom barrel will work in the oven.

    if you use a grate AND sand in the heating barrel, it will last YEARS. I used a double barrel stove to keep a drafty barn (call it 30×40 feet, and attache to the back of the cabin I was living in) that I used as a work shop and overwintering live-stock warm.

    You can regulate heat between both barrels by putting a damper (I’ve always preferred manual dampers to the ‘automatic’ dampers) between the first and second barrel, and again between the upper barrel and flue pipe. Thus, you can also regulate ‘heat’ in the oven which can get hot enough to bake flower-yeast bread or corn meal bread. I put a stove thermometer on the door to the oven so I could regulate it, and bread cooks about, if I recall, around 400*F, but turned down with the oven door open a crack or so, you can keep it warm enough for yeast to work just fine.

    I’ve found that sand in the bottom of the burn barrel helps keep it from ‘rotting’ out from the heat. AND it burns wood up to about 36 inches as long as it will fit through the door – I think I remember that it is between a foot and 18 inches wide. And that is a LOT of wood – and even though it’s not truly ‘air-tight’ stove, you can put in enough wood to keep things warm – not hot, but warm – for a good 24 hours or longer if you have ash enough, both dampers shut, and good seasoned hard wood. And that was in my drafty barn-workshop-lab. For my main heater I used an Ashley Air Tight stove, the old kind with the sheet-metal body and a top and side loading door. I’ve looked and they don’t make those any more, they are now ‘mainstream’ and cost in the $800-$900 range (yikes!). I am reasonably certain that with fiberglass rope you would be able to make the 55 gallon drum stove very close to air-tight – which means just a few pieces of 18 inch, 20-24 inch long hard wood would last you over night when put into ‘sleep’ mode.

    It’s not really a ‘portable’ stove, unless you just carry the stove kit around with you, though with a pick-up, van, or trailer you’d be able to store other things inside then pull them out. If you have ever cut wood you know what a bitch it is to cut wood – and being able to use 36+ inch logs cuts your sawing in half (I had a me-powered cross cut saw, a Monster Mall, and a set of wedges)

    You can, of course, get water heaters as extras for the kit. And here a words of wisdom – having a sheet-metal stove pipe adapter for COMMON diameter sheet metal, snap together, pipe means that you can drop your six inch pipe down to a 4 inch or smaller pipe if you are going to be using a smaller barrel. So an 8″ to 6″, a 6″ to 8″, 6″ to 4″ (etc.) adapters means you will be able to use ANY wood stove that you might happen to find — and do it very cheaply. Remember that wood does not burn like gas, so you will need a larger-than-gas flue unless you have a tiny stove like the one mentioned here. One of the few things that I found was a true life saver was a cap on the end of the stove pipe that swiveled to keep the draft working even in VERY windy rain and snow, it keeps the wind from blowing down your pipe and making the stove smoke in the house.

    For camping, I’d recommend a multi-fueled stove like the old Seva and which the USSR took and turned into a TRUE multi-fuel stove, from gasoline to diesel it works just fine. Of course with diesel you need to clean the burner more often, but it’s a small price to pay for heat (and a stove) inside a tent. And, IMHO, the worry about carbon monoxide poisoning inside a tent is VASTLY over-blown. No tent I’ve ever used is air tight enough to worry about CO build-up. The problem I had with I tried thick fuels (diesel, stove oil, etc.) is soot, so I simply swapped out the diesel jet for a kerosene jet. (yes it will burn 100 proof alcohol, or 70+% rubbing alcohol too.) All the tools you’d ever need are inside the Soviet Gray box that latches shut, and you can put a 5 gallon pot over it and it will boil water on good days without the need for a wind guard.

    Well, I guess that’s enough to point you all in the right direction. The stove reviewed here looks to ME like a piece of crap that MIGHT last you a SHORT time — a FAR better solution would to get a high-end (MSR, Seva, Primus, etc.) multi-fueled back-packing stove, and use it for both cooking and for heating — IMHO — CO poisoning is not going to be an issue unless you have made yourself (or gotten) a very draft-free, nearly air-tight shelter. AND if you are worried about fuel consumption in a GOOD situation, you can light it before you get out of bed to warm up your tent or shelter. I carry one of the old Soviet stoves in each of my vehicles as a matter of common sense. The gray steel box doesn’t take up much room, it protects all the brass parts inside, and it can hold other eating implements such as spoons, forks, and a metal cup — or MANY dehydrated MRE-like packets of meals.

    • Administrator November 11, 2014, 10:16 am

      The barrel kits are $80 and more, without the barrels, and you have to have the space to store the barrel, and the tools to cut it properly. We will be reviewing the barrel stove in the future, but just to note how much of a self afflicted fool you are, the barrels also have paint that burns off, and they have issues with smoke leaking if you don’t get the glass rope, which was suggested in the article. Everything you propose is either more expensive, requires man made fossil fuels, or both.

    • TEN/6 December 31, 2014, 5:05 am

      Doc, That was a really useful reply. I gained more knowledge from your comment than most comments. Thanks for taking the time. T

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