Cleaner-burning cook stove designed for use in developing nations


April 13, 2011

The Eco Fire Pot Stove is designed to allow women in developing nations to cook using relatively clean-burning fuel, instead of toxic smoke-producing wood or kerosene (Photo: Adama Kamara)

The Eco Fire Pot Stove is designed to allow women in developing nations to cook using relatively clean-burning fuel, instead of toxic smoke-producing wood or kerosene (Photo: Adama Kamara)

Chances are that even if you own a propane camp stove, you've tried cooking over an open fire at least once. When you did, despite your best efforts, you probably ended up sucking down a lot of smoke in the process. Now, imagine doing that for every meal. For many women in the developing world, breathing in toxic smoke while cooking over a wood, kerosene or coal fire is part of their daily routine. Not only can it have a detrimental effect on their own health, but it also worsens local air pollution and (in the case of wood fires) deforestation. The Eco Fire Pot Stove, however, is designed to allow these women to cook while breathing clean air.

The device was invented by Adama Kamara, a natural therapist who was born in Sierra Leone, but moved to Australia in 1996.

"The UN estimates that around 1.4 million women and children die each year because of inhaling fumes from wood or solid biomass burning in traditional cook stoves," she told Gizmag. "I believe that women should not be given a death sentence because they can only afford to use solid biomass fuels for cooking in traditional cook stoves. I decided to help by designing and building a stove that can use a variety of fuels for cooking, which produces less indoor air pollution and thus reduce the disease burden in women and small children."

The stove itself is very simple – it's pretty much just a box with grated burner-like holes on the top. Underneath each hole, a metal receptacle holds a natural fiber wick. That wick sits in a pool of relatively clean-burning crude biodiesel, made from waste vegetable oil blended with methanol or ethanol and wood ash – although pretty much any locally-available fuel could be used. One receptacle containing 500 ml (17 US ounces) of fuel should provide about six hours of burn time, which ought to allow for the preparation of at least three meals.

Unlike a solar cooker, which is another alternative to toxic fume-producing cooking fires, the Eco Fire Pot Stove can be used when the Sun isn't shining.

While the current version of the stove is made out of sheet metal, Kamara says it could also be made locally by its users from scrap metal, clay or bricks. Her intention isn't so much to send ready-made stoves to developing nations, as it is to provide residents with the knowledge of how to make them themselves. The fuel could also be homemade, as vegetable oil is already commonly used (and then discarded) in such countries.

"It is my hope to one day see a universal Healthy Kitchen Program for women in the developing world, to enable them to reach the full health potential of their lives, whilst doing their normal tasks of providing a cooked meal for their family," said Adama. "This is the motivation for my invention."

Via The New Inventors

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

Great idea... flawed by apparently needing a special fuel. Rocket stoves a better idea for clean burning, fan assisted, ideally. Simply making inexpensive flue/chimney kits more easily available would go along way to solving these problems too.


This is a great idea. All these poor women need to do is download the plans using their smart phones, build the stoves and then order some biodiesel online using their credit card and their ready to cook supper. Oh wait, I think I'm missing something here. Realistically these people are cooking with burning sticks because that is the only resource available in the vicinity of there homes. For this to work someone needs to go to them with these new resources and train them in person. Micro loans and small business training will also help them rise themselves out of poverty which is the root of the problem. God bless those missionaries and civil servants who are doing just that. I do hope the stove design can be successfully brought to those who need it. Gizmag editor, how about posting a link to site where we spoiled citizens can donate to further the cause. Maybe someone who reads this knows of an organization and can cite it for us. We can show how much we feel for these poor sisters by opening our wallets and skipping the afternoon latter and give few bucks to them.

[Although there is no website for the project, you can email the inventor via the link to The New Inventors TV show, provided at the bottom of the article -Ed.]


Yes, solar stoves cannot be used at night, but that is the only drawback. In many places women spend half the day collecting firewood. Solar stoves have no pollution and cost nothing to use. Unless someone has documented a situation where cooking after is dark is necessary or solar stoves are otherwise unworkable, I conclude solar is vastly superior.


Come on, guys, why the apparent need to be miserable smart alecks? Read the article again. You don\'t need special fuel. Notice the sentence that says \"although pretty much any locally-available fuel could be used.\" Including cooking oil they were going to throw out anyway. Who said anything about downloading plans? In developing countries, the traditional ways of spreading knowledge are word of mouth or traveling teachers. It\'s not like they need calculus or blueprints to make these. Think before you snark.

voluntaryist, nighttime isn\'t the only time sunshine isn\'t available. There are such things as cloudy or even rainy days. Why bring up the need to collect firewood when this stove doesn\'t use firewood? In fact, if you read the article again, it says this was designed specifically to avoid firewood and its toxic smoke.


Some-one said one could use leftover wine when cooking! \"Left over wine??\"The poor people for whom this stove is intended, rarely have cooking oil and never \"used oil\" all the used oil will be used in the cornmeal porridge or what ever. Dont you know that these poor people allways cook outside of their least in AFRICA and can walk around the fire to be on the up-wind side...they rarely need to inhale smoke. Why are everybody worried about smoke? For almost 70 years I inhale smoke from fires and my pipe and there is nothing wrong with my health. Please do not stop making carbon diokside.......all green trees and plants will die is their food!


Maybe gizmag should cover the Darfur Stove: Developed a few years ago along a similar theme, designed to burn wood or dung more efficiently.


\"Please do not stop making carbon diokside.......all green trees and plants will die is their food!\"

This seems to epitomize the level of scientific and cultural knowledge in that entire comment. Wow.


Gadgeteer: In the third world the only fuels are wood or sun (maybe a little dung). Wood is in short supply and sun abundant. The few times sun cannot be used are not a major problem compared to wood. Solar wins, hands down, for other reasons such as safety, and health (no smoke). The only barrier to solar is ignorance and tradition.


This is a good idea. And most poorer countries already know how to grow, express oil seeds. In fact it's where peanuts are from so they have sources that cost less.

But eff wood stoves too like the many using pressed veg matter into donuts, etc, the rocket stove, etc.

Personally I'd make bio-donuts from waste biomass, collecting the ash to put back on the fields and get both food and fuel.

The process he mentioned makes it into biodiesel so better sell it as that, eating the peanut leftovers, the best part and the plants, shells, other bio mass waste into fuel donuts as an example. Remember the first successful diesels ran on peanut oil as diesel wasn't there yet.

Most fuels but coal can burn cleanly, you just need the right burner set up. Fuels like peanuts, hemp, etc they can grow themselves at little cost are a good answer, just pick the right burner.

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