I’ve always been a big fan of twig stoves, because they work with whatever is available in nature or your backyard — twigs, plant stalks, grass, pine cones, pine needles, whatever. No need to buy or lug around expensive fuel and fuel containers. After watching dozens of videos, I finally got around to making my own twig stove. The main idea sprang from observing local barbecue grills made with half barrels. I didn’t need anything nearly that large, so I bought a small hibachi grill grate and built a small half barrel stove out of scrap steel to match.

There are numerous options to consider. There’s a grill grate with a handle that looks worth a try. You could make a longer stove with two of these grill grates side by side. Vent holes can be added on the ends. All stainless steel construction and/or thicker steel would add years of life. Food can be covered with a lid to speed cooking and retain moisture. Lava rock absorbs meat drippings and helps impart good flavor. You could weld brackets on one side so the grill grate height can be adjusted. (Search online for photos of hibachi grills.)

Natural Homesteader YouTube channel

Related:
Low Cost Twig Stoves
Small Stoves for Camping and Emergencies
Note: These two blog posts have links to dozens of the best videos and websites on twig stoves, camping stoves and emergency stoves. When I’m really interested in a topic, I love to scour the Web and find the best sites to share with readers.


Comments

Mini barrel Twig Stove — 14 Comments

  1. haha, you two make too much sense. Even I can’t argue with that. So, Yes, I’ll have hubby learn how to make a safer BBQ so I can enjoy them for a longer duration of time. That’s a win win all the way around I’d say.

    • This is turning into an interesting discussion about how to create a safer barbecue. This is worth thinking about. One option is to modify a sawdust stove (see today’s blog post). A pipe could divert heat from near the top and direct it into an attached cooker. It would work like an oven.

      Also note, these little twig stoves aren’t limited to just grilling food. You can boil, fry, etc. just like any stove. Adding a pot shield to block the wind is a good option.

      • Hey Owen. BBQ is serious stuff.

        BBQ was one of the original “good food on the cheap” concepts in America and the world over, for that matter.

        Slow smoking is probably the best method of preparation for the tougher (and therefore less expensive) cuts of meat. Before there was fast food franchises at every freeway interchange, there were BBQ joints along various roads, 2 lane highways, and near towns.

        It goes far beyond simple burgers and hotdogs on a grill. It’s an entire cooking culture and methodology. Every civilization the world over has its own versions.

        The first time you slow smoke a normally very tough leathery cut of meat, like a Beef Brisket, or a Pork Shoulder, and turn it into a melt-in-your-mouth tender symphony of flavors and textures on your taste buds, you’ll understand how and why the poor peoples, slaves, and lower classes of history developed these cooking methods. They took the cheaper and “2nd rate” foods that the upper classes turned their noses up at, and found ways to make them into delectable feasts.

        The Kings knighted their favored Loin cuts of meat with titles such as “Sir Loin”. The rest of the people got the scraps left over, and once they got done slow smoking it, turned it into something special, and cheap.

        Your twig stove would not be a very good slow smoker, but it could very easily employ an indirect grilling method.

        Simply push the burning twigs to either side, and leave a gap in the middle. Place a small drip pan with a very small layer of water in it. Then simply place the food over the drip pan.

        If you’ve never tried it, I encourage you to attempt it. The flavor of wood smoke is still there, but the bitter, almost chemical taste that attacks the back of the throat that comes from the smoke of burning fats is gone (and the carcinogens they carry). A true joy to taste when done correctly.

        YouTube has literally thousands of videos explaining, showing, discussing, and demonstrating “Indirect Grilling.”

        http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=indirect+grilling&oq=indirect+grilling&gs_l=youtube.3..0l3.1256074.1256074.0.1256586.1.1.0.0.0.0.262.262.2-1.1.0…0.0…1ac.1.11.youtube.uhke1L6XWvE

        This discussion is getting me hungry.

        • Indirect grilling is new to me. I’ll read up on that and give it a try.

          I never really thought about the culture behind BBQing, but did know about the huge interest in BBQ sauces and competitions.

          • Okay… Now I’m just cracking up laughing.

            Not at you, Owen. I’m laughing at what I just discovered.

            I was searching the internet for something completely unrelated, and stumbled across this:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYhvQlb7_CU

            Now… should I have posted that here, or under today’s blog post?

            I don’t know where it belongs, but the fact that I stumbled across it right now is simply hilarious.

          • Now that looks unhealthy. Yuck.

            Back to my twig stove. You said my twig stove wouldn’t be good for indirect cooking. That would be true if I only used twigs, because a sufficient bed of coals wouldn’t build up. Here’s my new idea: Get a bed of coals burning using larger pieces of wood or charcoal and pull to one end. Put a pan of water in the other half like you said and replace the grill grate. Grill the meat over the pan of water. Cover with a custom made lid shaped like a half barrel. Work out the kinks (adjustable vents, etc.). Mass produce, sell at moderate cost and I could retire in a tropical paradise.

          • I was right with you until your last sentence.

            You’ll NEVER pull that one off.

            ;)

  2. It doesn’t matter what we eat anymore. The only two things on the menu these days are Cancer or Heart Disease. Sometimes we get eBoli or is it eColi for desert. yummm.
    Pick your disease, it’s what’s for dinner. I’ll have mine BBQ’d anyday.
    Besides, I’m not the only old fart whose lived beyond the age of 6, who grew up in a house full of smoke because everyone smoked, I mean everyone. And we always had BBQ’s. AND we drove our for miles in our old buicks smog hogs. Yet, here I am today, testifying that we’re gonna die eventually, so we might as well enjoy our lives until we do. Nobody can “clock” us, they can only draw assumptions and conclusions, they don’t have “real solid proof”.
    Valid post and thoughts, but … I aim to disagree passionately. Pass the sauce please

    • Everything in moderation as they say. I don’t think a few BBQ meals will hurt. The problem is everything is getting polluted and so we’re talking about how to reduce some of the crap in our food. And yeah, we’re all going to die, but good health can prolong your life and enable you to have a more enjoyable life.

    • Feel free to disagree.

      The point of my comment was to encourage the best kind of BBQ, not to discourage all BBQ.

      Indirect grilling methods, and low and slow smoking methods are far healthier than simply charring meat over direct flame or direct heat.

      And in my personal opinion, which others are free to form their own opinion, indirect grilling and low and slow smoking methods produce the best tasting food by a wide margin.

      Isn’t that a big part of what living well is all about? Eating food that tastes good and is healthy for you?

  3. One note of caution.

    Meat drippings hitting hot lava rock or meat drippings hitting burning charcoal or burning wood creates carcinogens, or cancer causing compounds.

    There are a multitude of web pages discussing the available science on this topic. Here is one:
    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/cooked-meats

    They compare the smoke created by burning meat drippings to cigarette smoke and car exhaust fumes.

    The simplicity of your design is very appealing, but I find myself wondering how to adapt it for healthier cooking and greater efficiency.

    One thing I have considered, is to create a miniature rocket stove grille. The idea would be to create some kind of ducted flame tubes that spread the heat over a larger grill surface area like your grill design, but keep the high efficiency of an insulated combustion chamber like a rocket stove design. Sadly, I have not figured out a way to accomplish this concept SIMPLY and inexpensively.

    An ideal healthy design would include some kind of drip pan to collect the drippings, but keep them cool so that they do not burn. Seems that a drip pan directly underneath the grill grate that has a small amount of water in it would serve that function well. That would prevent the drippings from burning, which would dramatically reduce the formation of the carcinogens.

    If some rocket stove “jets” of heat could be directed around that drip pan to heat the food in a manner that does not tend to burn the meat drippings, one might have a highly efficient, and very healthy twig grill.

    If we are concerned about eating healthy fruits and vegetables grown on our own lands, it makes sense that we should also be concerned about using cooking methods that maximize healthy aspects of that food while minimizing unhealthy aspects caused by certain methods of cooking.

    At the very least, this may provide some food for thought.

    I love the idea of grilling with twigs, though.

    • Yeah, you’re probably right, although I don’t eat much meat these days, and when I do I grill fish in our convection oven. That seals in the juices and produces no smoke. It’s a breeze to use, perfect every time and tastes better than fish from restaurants. This is my favorite way of cooking now and costs less than $30 here. http://www.clickgw.com/product.aspx?pd=191

      The twig stove is really for emergency cooking — power outages, whatever, and for rare backyard grilling. I used to grill outside every day for years, but now only do so rarely.

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