Rocket Mass Heater: The people’s masonry wood stove

Looking for efficient ways to heat a home is something of an obsession for many Alaskans. Wood stoves appeal to many people because abundant fuel and simplicity. Lasse (pronounced “LAH sa”) Holmes specializes in building with natural materials like straw and clay. On Wednesday Night Holmes will be at Northern Susitna Institute to introduce people to a wood-fired home heating system with an interesting name: Rocket Mass Heaters. KTNA’s Lorien Nettleton has more:
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With a name that sounds like it should be made from cast-off military equipment, the Rocket Mass Heater might take a little explanation to understand. Lasse Holmes has built a number of them, an puts it like this:

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Several years ago Holmes wanted to build his home out of locally sourced, natural materials that he could get for cheap. He settled on a timber-framed structure with straw and clay for his Homer residence. He originally heated it with a wood stove and an oil heater. But when he found out about Rocket Mass Heaters, he had to build one.

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The unique aspect of the stoves is the chimney for the heater is routed through a horizontal clay surface, usually a bench, where the escaping gasses heat the clay before exiting through a smoke stack. The stoves burn bright hot, and the clay radiates heat for a long time. Holmes says it needs to be seen to be believed.

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Holmes will be at NSI in Talkeetna on Wednesday night to talk about the heaters and answer questions. He plans to come back to hold a workshop on building the heaters in the Fall

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