Author Archives: Stewart

Surviving in Winter – with an EcoZoom Versa

Took a wintery trip out to the foothills of mount Snowdon, Wales in December. Stayed at a log cabin lost in the woods. Theres no tracks in these woods and its well hidden, with that turf roof.


This is a tough neighbourhood even in summer, so winter is extreme. Its important to keep   core temperatures up. Fire makes things right but our cabin lacked any amenities at all except for shelter, with no fire place.

Padded in its stove bag it was a cinch to get the EcoZoom Versa up and it became the focus at once. We were a group of five, cooking the whole time using firewood. No gas, petrol or meths – the usual mountain fuels. Unlike those fuel, you wont run out anytime soon and its possible to get nice bit of heat from it, great for cold hands! Try that on a meths stove.


This is one of the wettest places in the UK – serious rising damp everywhere but adequate fire wood is easy to locate. Pick the sticks with no bark left on, aged and seasoned. Don’t pick from the ground, it will be too damp. Take the suspended sticks sitting in scrub, wind dried. A small pile will last for ages on a Zoom stove but be sure to keep some back for breakfast, so you don’t have to look in the morning mist.

And always keep some tea on the go, heat straight to the core. A kettle can be left on the biochar from burning up the wood. Close the door, shake the fuel down and let it be.

The Versa shown here is my own, its been well used over 3 years. It was kept lit dawn til dusk. Its working perfectly, could do with a clean up , linseed oil to the cast iron hob, but nothing loose at all, no degradation. These things are a lifetime purchase, ready in good times and back up in case other issues arise – If regular fuels are disrupted, you will still be able to cook warm food easily, on real fire and keep your spirits high.


UK Winter Cooking on a Ecozoom Stove

Author: Stewart MacLachlan – EcoZoom UK

EcoZoom meets Mama Solar!

EcoZoom UK are closely linked with solar cooking development here in the UK. Our recent trip to the UK Green Gathering festival demonstrated our state of the art rocket cookstoves alongside solar cookers and fireless cookers. These options allow seriously low-carbon cooking. We raised money and were able to donate Ecozoom Jet stoves to Mama Solar in Nairobi, Kenya to support her work. This is the report from EcoZoom Global, also based in Kenya.

‘EcoZoom recently took a trip to Eastlands in Nairobi to meet the well-known “Mama Solar”. Stewart MacLachlan from EcoZoom UK had been in touch with her for the donation of three EcoZoom charcoal stoves to NAREWAMA.

img_6150_large img_6152_large

Faustine Lutta Odaba is the founder and CEO of NAREWAMA (Natural Resources and Waste Management Alliance) and a prominent public figure in the solar community in Kenya. Working in the solar energy field for over 10 years showed her what rural women needed most. She started NAREWAMA in 2010.

Mama Solar began with the dissemination of solar cooking set-ups which use the sun. However, “when the sun is not there, what should we use?” she asked, which is how she was introduced to energy saving cookstoves. Rather than cooking on inefficient open fires or traditional stoves, she will now rely on her EcoZoom Jiko Bora to save fuel, time and to better her health.

img_6142_large img_6144_large

One range of products she provides are heat-retaining slow cookers which resemble padded bags or baskets. Rather than cooking an entire meal on an open fire or stove; the meal only needs to be started off cooking on a stove. It is then transferred directly into one of the slow cookers. Here, due to excellent insulation, the meal will continue to cook for hours. This greatly reduces the need for fuel. It allows the user to tend to other matters while their meal cooks safely and unattended.

Before we delivered her EcoZoom stove, Mama Solar was preparing her meals for the slow cookers on a traditional Kenyan ‘jiko’ (stove in Kiswahili), which used more fuel than she felt necessary and troubled her with smoke. Our charcoal stove saves her up to 70% on fuel and toxic smoke, making her cooking much more efficient.

Mama Solar’s cooking methods encourage people not to use three stone fires or inefficient stoves. Along with showing people how to make their own slow cooker baskets, she also shows those in rural areas how to set up makeshift solar ovens.

img_6156_large img_6183_large

Mama Solar is routinely invited to speak at agricultural shows, women’s groups, schools and environmental organizations. She plans to reach thousands more and educate people on the diverse energy saving methods that can be implemented in their homes. She believes that people in rural areas need this information the most, as they rely on firewood and charcoal to cook all of their meals. She even shows people how to boil and sterilize water for drinking, using the sun!

img_6147_large img_6164_large

It was so inspiring for EcoZoom to visit her and see just how much an individual can accomplish in the field of clean energy! We look forward to a long-lasting relationship with Mama Solar and can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.’

Author Micha Dhanjal – EcoZoom Global

read about

Solar cooking and Ecozoom stoves at the Green Gathering UK

Solar Cooking in the UK  Facebook Group

NAREWAMA – Mama Solars Website

See Faustine making her baskets here.


Zoom Versa – Fuel Efficient Cook Stove on the Dunes

It was a pleasure to have our Ecozoom Versaon a trip up to the coast. There was plenty of wind, but great views so we made a picnic spot high in the sand dunes. We found some fuel made some hot drinks and enjoyed the scenery.

The Zoom rocket wood stove has the ability to burn nearly anything an empty beach can supply,
such as driftwood fuel. A couple of firelighters make life easy in this situation. Remember to  angle the door openings, to make best use of the wind. If its blowing hard, point the doors away from the wind, or angle them slightly towards it to keep a steady intake of air. Always cover your pan, as the wind whips away heat and slows the boil.

zoom dune kid

Getting hot drinks on the beach can be difficult, you can be far from an outlet. Overpriced low quality hot drinks can be a drag. Taking a flask needs preparation and the taste isn’t fresh. Brewing your own is fun and can save a bit of cash, for other stuff. You can use your own cups, avoiding waste from throwaways. With one of our lightweight rocket wood stoves you can enjoy the heat of a small fire letting you easily cook lunch and boil water for washing. Its like having a miniature kitchen, kicking out cooking heat. With a rocket stove you can keep burning as long as you like, on free, renewable fuel.

Try our Ecozoom Versa next time you hit the beach!

centre zoom dune

‘Frying Tonight’ – With an EcoZoom Versa

After many year’s using an Ecozoom Versa I’ve mastered the art of deep frying. I would never do this indoors – in a kitchen. The smell lingers, giving your home a ‘fish and chip shop’ atmosphere. Not so with a Zoom stove – frying in the open air allows smoke and cooking smells to disperse.

imageimageFrying stuff like chips, samosas and chicken goujons needs very hot oil at 179-191 centigrade.

Thats easy lifting for a Zoom stove with a controlled wood or charcoal fire.  The trick is to quickly seal the food behind a crispy surface so it cooks from the outside.

Here’s the recommended accessories to pass your Ecozoom ‘Fry-Meister’ diploma.
Kitchen roll – for clean-up
A temperature wand – for best results
A slotted spoon – for lifting out.
Oven gloves – the pan gets hot.
A stable pan, with a lid for controlling heat
An Ecozoom Power Ring – for more power, and wind shielding.
Extra fuel – so you don’t need to fetch more.

Please remember that seriously hot oil is a hazard. Approach everything with care. You alone are responsible for safety when cooking – the fry-meister should ensure hungry kids, pets and tipsy adults are kept well clear. Never leave a fire unattended. The footprint of a Zoom stove is wide , it’s weight is evenly distributed. Its solid but make sure the floor surface is level.  If you’ve never deep fried before, get somebody to show you the basics.

image   image

The oil will take a while to heat and can easily over-heat – good fire control is required. I often use charcoal fuel for deep frying, it needs less attention than a wood fire.  When you put in the food, oil temperatures will reduce. Place in gently and watch out for spitting fat.

Zoom stoves are used in Africa daily for frying, they’re far safer than flimsy kerosene stoves – reducing the risk of  shack fires, along with the other more positive impacts of a zoom stove such as fuel efficiency and low smoke.

Once you’ve cracked ecozoom frying, the delights of take away food are all yours – home or away – you will be popular with kids and adults alike, just add ketchup and mayonnaise.

Happy cooking (and remember to swim ten miles and climb a few mountains to work it all off!)

Author: Stewart MacLachlan – EcoZoom UK

EcoZoom UK – Back in Business

EcoZoom UK is back in business, distributing robust clean cookstoves for the UK market. Starting in 2013 our market test of Ecozoom rocket stoves has been a success with 500 cookstoves sold in the UK and over a dozen European countries.

Zoom stoves have been greeted with enthusiasm by our customers who regularly use them. Europeans love the opportunity for cooking over real fires and the Ecozoom Versa provides all the power needed and with great results.
The beauty of a Zoom stove is not having to carry fuel or gas canisters. Collect up some sticks, pine cones or other biomass and you’re cooking. The Zoom’s comfortable design and its natural stability allows larger pots to be used and the wood-fired UK chef can get on with the art of outdoor food.

A Zoom Versa also burns charcoal, giving a more regular heat and needing less fire supervision – especially compared to a fuel hungry open BBQ. Slow cooking is possible, with gourmet possibilities.


Ecozoom maintain a strong focus on the developing world. Here families rely on expensive charcoal or volatile kerosene for cooking. Many even compete for brushwood fuel, with smoky fires and pots balanced on stones. Ecozoom rocket stoves take the smoke and burn it – giving the famous clean-burning rocket effect. This efficiency is a big pull-factor when you can spend half your income on cooking fuel.


In the UK fuel is not a big issue, we have abundant resources. Zoom Stoves are used for off-grid recreation, the pleasure of a small fire and the taste factor – food can be enhanced by the fuel used to cook it.
Some keep a Zoom stove handy in case of an emergency or power cut, always a wise option but luckily not too common. For the user, safety issues are minimal – the fire chamber is well insulated, and the stove can’t tip in any normal use. Supervised children can learn a lot from safely operating the stove and we received a ‘thumbs up’ from The Scout Association last year.

EcoZoom UK has received great reviews on amazon and also from popular reviewers such as Permaculture Magazine and The Great Outdoors (see other positive reviews below).

All round you will find the gimmick-free Ecozoom Versa to be a great outdoor cooking stove. It’s our pleasure at EcoZoom UK to have successfully completed the local market test and we look forward to continuing our operations here in the UK as official distributor for Ecozoom.blog_SM-starfish-300x224

Author Stewart MacLachlan
Director – EcoZoom
More UK Ecozoom Versa Reviews
Outdoors Magic
Campfire Magazine

EcoZoom on Facebook

Global Ecozoom Webpage