Preliminary review of EcoZoom Versa rocket stove

First Impression:  I am going to LOVE cooking on this stove!

I just got this thing this afternoon and could not WAIT to try it out.

It is small enough to fit perfectly on my Dutch oven table, which “lives” on our covered wooden deck.  I thought I’d have a lot of safety concerns about burning this device on the deck but now – with all due caution of course – I do not.  I think my most important impression is that it seems virtually windproof.  The fire is thoroughly protected within the body of the unit.  The metal table also has a wind screen.  I don’t have another outdoor cooking device that is this likely to survive a windy cooking session.

I was nervous about starting with wood, but I wasn’t getting any usable heat out of six charcoal briquettes after 20 minutes (too far below the grate – more briquettes would have done the job, but the the object of this device is to be able to cook with scrounged materials).  So I broke down and fed three skinny sticks of fir kindling into the firebox. 

It smokes quite a bit until it warms up and really starts to draw, after that it was smokeless.

After putting the kindling in, it took about 20 minutes to heat a quart of water to boiling. (Oh, it was 40 deg F outside). Closing the lower draft door brought the temperature back down to a simmer, but it took a little while.  I’ll be using one of my heat diffusers with it, probably.

My three little sticks of softwood kindling burned for 45 minutes. Yes, it does need to be tended.

The fire never crept out of the fire box.  It did not burn the wood sticking out the door.

The cooking surface is pretty neat.  There are ridges that hug the bottom of the pot and stabilize it.

If I could have anything, it would be some sort of lid to help snuff the fire, along with closing the doors.

I absolutely LOVE this stove.  My next experiment will be with hardwood kindling, perhaps varying the number of pieces.  (The sticks in the picture were about 1″ diameter and a foot long.) Then probably scrounged sticks which are plentiful here.

Barbecue tongs and gloves are useful.  It will be a little while before I can actually cook on it, but my inner Outdoor Cook says this stove is a winner.20221128_151515[1]


  • Comments (8)

    • 1

      Love your review! First it was Seasons4 with her new portable wood stove, now you with your rocket stove. 🙂 Lots of good resources and reviews on alternative cooking!

    • 4

      UPDATE: Since I am home alone this morning, I decided to amuse myself by attempting to fry some bacon on the EcoZoom.  It’s 42 degrees and raining heavily, my two conditions that would predominate in most power outages. 

      I selected five fairly sturdy pieces of fir kindling and started the fire with a tiny bit of commercial fire starter.  Without charcoal in the firebox, it never smoked. The skillet was in the 250 degree range within a few minutes and I started the bacon.  It cooked gently and came out perfect. 

      I really hadn’t given the device enough time to really heat up, but by the time the bacon was cooked, the skillet had heated to something over 300 degrees.  The firebox could have probably held two more sticks.

      I had only burned about 3″ of the kindling!  So what to do with the remaining precious fuel! I ended up scooping some ashes out of the wood stove into a can, and snuffed the burning ends in the ashes. In the future I’ll have a larger metal can full of ashes on hand.

      No, I didn’t leave the ash can and kindling on top of the cooker, to topple over!  I wanted to show the can, which is a Dinty Moore stew can (the contents of which I was happy to sacrifice to this cause!).  It fits perfectly over the chimney opening, and I will use it to help snuff fires in the future.

      This device is designed to use any kind of fuel, from regular wood to dried animal dung to corncobs for cooking, but there’s no doubt that the kind of fuel used directly impacts the amount of heat the fire produces. I fried a skillet full of bacon using about 3″ of five softwood kindling sticks.  And I did that on a 42 degree rainy day with ice pellets mixed in. This is not something I would realistically be able to do with most of my other outdoor cooking options.

      I still want to try some hardwood charcoal in it, and also follow a video on adapting a Coleman camp oven to use with it. 



      • 1

        Gotta get me one of these now! That’s impressive how efficient it was.

        Do the handles remain cool after cooking if you needed to move it a short distance?

      • 2

        I can’t answer your question for sure on the handles, but they do have some sort of cushioning on them.  I’ve repositioned it repeatedly without any problem, but I haven’t burned it for any great length of time to where it would really heat up (there is thick, ceramic-like insulating material inside it).  Once I get a chance, I will cook something with a much longer cook time on it.

        One “con” is that like any wood fire, it puts a lot of soot on the  cooking vessel, so probably some dedicated outdoor pots and skillets may be a good idea.

        Oh, and just as a silly comparison, I know that it would take 36 Kingsford charcoal briquettes lining the bottom of my Lodge Sportsman’s Grill (aka hibachi) to heat my cast iron griddle enough to cook breakfast.

      • 2

        I really like the way the unit is so well insulated and how stable it is.  Last thing you need in a crisis is accidental burns.

        Great review & thanks!

      • 2

        Thanks for giving me encouragement to buy it!  I feel like it solved a really big concern I had for getting food on the table in a bad situation.

      • 2

        Well said.  So nice to have a cooker that operates on just a tiny amount of any ole wood or combustible product.

    • 1

      Sweet review.  I live in an area where firewood isn’t naturally abundant and fires in general can be dangerous.  Having something to contain it safely and be efficient with fuel is good to learn about.  Thanks!