The (near) Smokeless Cookstove


Living in our comfortable homes in America, boiling a pot of water is as easy as turning a dial on the stove. We forget that for billions of people around the world, heating water involves making a fire. Where is the fire, there is smoke, and where there is smoke, there are shortened lives and early deaths.

The team at BURN Design Labs on Vashon Island outside of Seattle knows all about fire, and set out to help. BURN designs clean-burning cookstoves, specifically for the billions of people whose daily lives involve burning wood or charcoal, often using nothing more than three rocks and a pot.

Many other groups have worked on this problem, with the state-of-the-art being stoves that use about 50% less fuel than an open fire and which produce about 50% less smoke. Obviously, burning less fuel should provide proportionally less smoke.

Saving fuel is important, as both wood and charcoal come from trees, too much of which is unsustainably harvested, however, ultimately it is the inhalation of smoke that directly causes sickness and death, and when BURN attacked this problem, they did not stop at 50% less smoke.

The latest BURN cookstoves use about 75% less fuel (half as much as the “improved” stoves used today), but more importantly, produce 90% less smoke. So little smoke that one customer literally asked, “Where did the smoke go?”

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