Article by Mrs Muwanga Jesca – Vice Chairlady of CELAC Masaka District Farmers Network
I want to share with you how to make a cooking stove out of mud just like the one I made myself. At first, I was using a three stone fire place for cooking just like my fellow farmers. This required a lot of firewood, which I did not have time to look for. Also, it emitted a lot of smoke which hurt my eyes. Today, this is not the case as I am now using a cooking stove that I had out of mud.
What I have noticed since I started using this type of stove is that: -
- It takes me a much shorter time cook any type of food
- I don’t use as much firewood as I used to. This is a good solution to massive tree cutting which leads to environmental degradation
- The risk of boiling saucepans and kettles falling off has reduced
- Also the fact that the fire is contained within the mud block, reduces the chances of the user getting burnt
- This stove keeps heat for a very long period of time. Sometimes, I leave left over food on it at night, and find it warm in the morning.
- It is also very strong and can last for many years without getting spoilt. Mine has lasted over two years now and is still strong.
- I can also cook more than one type of food at the same time easily.
- The stove also emits less smoke.
What you will need to make a three plate mud stove like mine
- wheel barrows of anti hill soil
- 6 wheel barrows of red soil
- 1 basin of fine textured sand
- Water to mix
- Any Grass
- Sweet potato leaves
- 2 Banana stems
Step 1 :Stage 1: Mix thoroughly the anthill soil with the red soil
Option to use anthill soil is based on the fact that when ants are building their anthills, they use soil from further down in the ground. This soil is thicker and compact. Soils which contain material from termite mounds are reputed to be highly resistant to the effects of rain and water.
For best results, use older anthill mounds than mounds which still have termites living in them. This is because the older termite mounds have higher clay content (30 – 80%) than newer mounds. Clay is a naturally occurring material, composed primarily of fine-grained minerals, which show plasticity through a variable range of water content, and which can be hardened when dried or fired. It is also very impermeable when in contact with water.
Option to use the new mounds should be used with caution. This is because you will be destroying the termites first either by poisoning or smoking and yet they too have a right to leave. Termites are a vitally an important part of arid and tropical ecosystems. Their role is to decompose plant materials, releasing nutrients and making them available to the soil so as to allow plants grow (they are as important as earthworms and fungi which are found in wetter environments). Life in tropical and arid ecosystems depends on this ‘nutrient cycling’ carried out by fungi. Termites are also an important part of the food chain, providing a food source for ants, spiders and lizards.
Also, the outer clay casing of termite mounds is believed to be more suitable for construction than the inner nest material.
Step 2 :Add the sand in the mixture thereafter.
Sand is added in order to reduce the chances of cracking.
Step 3 :Meanwhile, get a basin of water, add sweet potato leaves. Squeeze them while in the water and keep adding more leaves until the mixture forms a slippery paste. This will act as the cement meant to bind the soil together. Sieve thereafter.
Step 4 :Add the sieved liquid to the previously mixed soil. Mash it well, mixing them with the help of your legs. When soft enough, put this mud in a cold place, cover with grass and leave it for two months without any disturbance. This will enable the mixture thicken, thereby reducing the chances of cracking easily when the stove is finally made. After months, use the mixture to design a desired shape and size.
Step 5 :Choose a design, preferably square or round. Construct the frame using the mixture and leave the middle part empty. If it long, place support walls in between also made from the mixture. Use a banana stem of desired size where the saucepan or kettle is to sit. The stem serves to shape the hole. Smear this stem with ash so as to enable you to remove it smoothly after making the stove. The bigger the stem, the bigger the hole. One small banana stem can be fixed on the side of the stove to help make a small side vent or chimney that will help to emit the smoke. Note should be taken while building a kitchen to fix a hole or ventilation to let smoke out effectively
Step 6 :Twenty minutes after shaping it, smear on top with dust to give a smooth finish; and leave it to dry for four days before you start cooking.
Other related readings compiled by Maria Nakirya – Program Coordinator, CELAC
- Household Stoves Construction Manual
- Sustainable Energy Solutions to Reduce Poverty in South Asia – MANUAL
- Design Principles for Wood Burning Cook Stoves
- Rural Energy and Improved Cooking StovesProgrammeof Nepal
- Fuel-efficient stoves for rural women in Pakistan
- A story of improving cooking stoves in a Dogon village, Mali, West Africa
- Cooking Appliances made of Mud