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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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‘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.

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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

Welsh Mountain Biking with the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove

Welsh Mountain Biking with the EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove

Back in the Autumn our EcoZoom UK Distributor recently took his Ecozoom Versa rocket stove on a mountain bike trip to the damp trails of Wales, spending a few days riding with friends and cooking up warm replenishing meals. If you live in the UK or Europe and are interested in ordering an EcoZoom stove please contact Stewart at

Wales is the spiritual home of mountain biking in the UK, it has world class, purpose built trails. It’s always a pleasure to get out into those hills for some fresh air and calorie crunching bike action. The trails are remote and it’s possible to park up a few camper vans close by and enjoy some local wilderness at its best.

Welsh weather is a unique and heady mix of sea and mountain influence. Facing the Irish sea, rain features most days and is often torrential. Strong winds can clear the clouds giving the sun a much appreciated cameo part. Autumn is a great time to experience this fresh climate but you have to come prepared.





With this in mind we headed out last weekend into a doubtful weather forecast and I took along my Ecozoom Versa rocket stove to give it a shot amid the gloomy forecast. Mountain biking is a high energy sport and excessive calories are needed to keep you going and to keep warm. This translates into a morning fry up and gallons of tea in preparation for our ride.

We set up the Zoom Stove on a log and got a fire going. I’d taken a bit of dry kindling to start the cookstove, but quickly moved on to wind dried sticks out of the damp forest. Bingo! A steady hot blaze got us right up into the mood and a day of swooshing singletrack ensued, mightily fueled by an EcoZoom rocket stove.

That evening we were able to pull into a lesser known beach front spot. A stunning place under a full moon but with strong winds due to the exposure. A camp fire was out of the question as the sparks would have gone everywhere, and would have kept us looking for new wood all night.

The Versa on the other hand was in its element. Set up on a camp table between a couple of vans acting as wind breaks, the controlled fire (from bleached driftwood) kept us cooking and warm right through the evening.

With gas camping stoves or spirit burners outdoor cuisine is usually a quick fuel saving boil up of some carbs (eg packet rice), followed by a cup of tea, then bed (to keep warm).

With the Ecozoom Versa cooking style you can be bit more luxurious……. fuel never runs out. You can spend a while in food preparation. We made a delicious green Thai curry using stir fried vegetarian ingredients, and simmered in coconut milk to perfection. Cooking for hours, it gives time for a very leisurely and well deserved beer.

Afterwards I even managed to get a hot water bottle into my sleeping bag…5 star luxury! Thanks to the little packet of heat that is the Versa rocket stove, a real fire can be at hand.

After another EcoZoom breakfast and full day of riding on the Nant Yr Arian trail, I was just about cooked. Fully fed, fueled and fatigued, Wales had worked its mountain bike magic once again.

I’m really happy to commend the Ecozoom Versa rocket stove for its morale boosting support to a great weekend.  As a base camp warmer in a damp, cold place, it’s a winner all the way!

email EcoZoom UK at if you have any great stories of using your Zoom stove out in the wilds.


The Zoom Versa on Biomass

Biomass alongside wood and charcoal is a fuel option for the Zoom Versa named for its versatile performance. In reality biomass includes a wide range of materials that can be burnt to cook food. Of the 3 billion people without access to modern fuels maybe 60% use biomass to cook and these people exist at the poorer end of that spectrum.

Biomass itself is often gathered from local environments thus depriving the area of organic compost.

Indoor Cookstove Dung Cooking

In turn this can contribute to soil loss, erosion and poor harvests.

Ecozoom rocket stoves are fuel efficient cookstoves that can give fuel savings of 60% over a regular three stone or unimproved fire. Smoke emissions can be down 70% – reducing indoor air pollution and preventing respiratory health problems. These savings can make a big difference since family members can spend less time gathering biomass. The children who often carry out this activity might spend more time at their studies, or be exposed to less danger from wild animals or slavers.


Out here in the UK things are a bit different and Zoom stove users mainly burn wood and charcoal when camping out or for real fire cooking on the patio at home. We wanted to see for ourselves how a Zoom Versa handled biomass so we set up a mini science study last weekend for a try out.

In the line of fire were20141012_112251_resized_3 three types of biomass: pine cones; corn husks and dry animal droppings.

OK I was a little apprehensive about the third, but as a fuel its the real deal for developing world cooks. This was from wild Exmoor ponies, with no odour and basically just straw, so gourmet biomass, so to speak.

A hot fire is the key to rocket stove efficiency – trapping and burning up the smoke before it gets in your eyes. Having set up our test stove at a local park barbecue spot we warmed up the combustion chamber using wood.

Then we tried each fuel in turn timing how long it took to boil one litre of water.

Its not easy cooking in a UK bbq area, people use throwaway barbecues full of accelerants and strange chemicals – they really stink and seriously undercook food. We’re in the clean burning and natural camp, and smoked nobody out. We kept a good fire going, and here are the results from our test:

Pine Cones – these burn for ages, and really well. The scent is pleasant. 1 Litre water to boil: 6:55 mins

Exmoor Pony (& Trap) – burns with fury but doesn’t last long. no odour. 1 Litre water to boil: 7.30 mins

Corn Husks – Burn slow, didn’t really work to boil the water fast. 1 Litre water to boil: 8:20 mins

The cookstove gobbled up the fuel and there was very little ash left in the stove, its clear that biomass is a serious option for a Zoom Versa rocket stove and a fun experience.

Learning to cook on a Zoom stove

Learning to cook on a Zoom stove

It was a pleasure learning about these fuel types and we got an idea of how people in the developing world might be cooking right now. We didn’t check how these fuels might work in an open fire as this would be too smoky – even for a London barbecue place. I’ll be collecting pine cones for this purpose in future; corn husks – why not?; pony power?….. lets face it, you can efficiently burn any dry biomass in a Zoom Versa. Unlike bottled gas or smokey barbies, your fuel is abundant and its everywhere.

Author Stewart MacLachlan EcoZoom UK

Note: We didn’t use the Power Ring – the times would be reduced up to 25% if we had.

A British Beach Trip With an EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove

A British Beach Trip With an EcoZoom Versa Rocket Stove

In crisp, clear autumn weather we were able to get out of town and down to the southern coast of England for a few days of country walks and beach cooking on an Ecozoom Versa.

Our destination was a friend’s seaside caravan near the Dungeness lighthouse – facing Dover’s white cliffs across the bay. We’d suffered our worst storm in years and some areas were still counting the cost with fallen trees and debris in many places. This was the calm after the storm. The weather was perfect for getting out and about. We headed down the board-walk at the beach and set up for breakfast. Our backdrop was the English Channel and the shingle beach which was covered in starfish and sea life thrown up by the storm.

Apart from the beach front scenery and a light quality popular with artists, Dungeness is famous for its nuclear power station. It’s kept safe from storm’s by an artificial shingle bank maintained by tipper trucks. Albert Einstein called nuclear power an ‘expensive and dangerous way to boil water’, fortunately for us we didn’t need any power and could fire up our Ecozoom Versa using just driftwood. Cheaply and safely we got the espresso coffee cooked and set up the breakfast bonanza.

The locals don’t touch the shellfish in these parts, but the fresh fish is to die for. We bought freshly caught sea bass fillets from a fishermen and combined them with eggs and bread all cooked on the beach under a solid blue sky. Outdoor cooking at its finest!


On our way back to the sea side caravan park we stopped to look at an interesting piece of low-tech World War II archaeology – ‘the listening ear‘. The concrete ear was designed to tune in the sound of incoming hostile aircraft, of which only two were built before they were superseded by radar.

blog_SM-listening_ear-300x153EcoZoom rocket stoves are a robust, low-tech solution to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Similar to the listening ear, we hope our rocket stove technology supersedes the primitive cooking methods of over 3 billion people in the world.

They also have direct usability here in Britain in all kinds of ways. A caravan by the sea is a home from home for many people in the UK during the warmer months. Most caravans use expensive bottled gas for cooking, and this restricts the options for recipes. Cooking inside a smaller space will create odours and can be uncomfortable on hot days.

The low key ‘footprint’ of the  ecological Versa rocket stove is perfectly suited to a pleasant caravan park environment. The contained combustion chamber sends out the right message – that this is a controlled scaled down fire, unlike a campfire which can be hard to control in wind.

Our cooking on the caravan park was fun and allowed for great times outside breathing fresh sea air. It was a couple of days well spent with some great memories, food, and fantastic opportunities for outside cooking – thanks to the Zoom Versa Rocket Stove.

Over the sea to Skye – With an EcoZoom Dura

The Isle of Skye is the jewel in Scotlands crown with some world class mountain backdrops.

With this in mind we packed an EcoZoom Dura to support an attempt on the infamous Skye Ridge Traverse.

This is a two day, sustained high level scramble with much climbing, and lightweight mountain equipment is required. Lets be clear, the ridge is no place for a wood burner – there’s no wood or water up there for a start. It was down at the base camp harbour where our EcoZoom Dura came in really useful.20140529_061501_resized_1

Wood is often in short supply on the treeless Scottish peat bog, but this no problem for a zoom stove as you don’t need much. The Dura was used for hours and rocked out some great cooked breakfasts, including porridge. It was essential to pack in the carbs as calories would be limited on the climb. Buckets of tea were happily imbibed by all comers and as usual the stove worked as a focus and centre of attention – burning through all the pesky paper wrappers to avoid leaving pointless litter.

But the stove came into its own in a particularly Scottish way and any summer visitor to these parts knows about the  Highland Midge

The Scottish Midge casts a long shadow over the Scottish tourist industry. Known as the ‘crofters revenge’ since  crofters were cleared from the land for sheep leaving it un-drained and boggy. Perfect breeding ground for insects and the midges come in biting swarms that blacken the sky. They are attracted to the CO2 in our breath, so there’s no escape

EcoZoom cookstoves burn dry wood very efficiently with up to 70% less smoke, since it gets mixed with the flame and re-burnt due to the rocket effect. This gives a 60% reduction in the fuel used to cook food.

But with a little clever ‘reverse-engineering’ (i.e. damp wood) it was possible to smoke them little critters out and chase them off down the glen. It worked a treat when required and allowed for a bit more peace and reflection prior to the challenges ahead. And what a view!



Two days later we emerged from the mountains having had great weather and the best experience, grateful for all the support we had to complete this lofty Scottish classic and in need of some celebratory local malt.

It was great to get the opportunity to test the stove out as a base camp facility here and I can fully recommend an EcoZoom rocket stove for use in the Highlands – for both food and also to keep troublesome midges at bay without the hassle of a regular campfire.

Ecozoom Dura rocket cookstoves are simple, durable and burn wood for fuel, they are soon to be available in the UK.


How to traverse the Skye Ridge

Photos and story by: Stewart MacLachlan, EcoZoom UK

Anti Fracking : This is about long term sustainability



April  – Anti Fracking : This  is  about  long  term  sustainability

Full Power on wood

Anti-Fracking protesters at the Daneshill (Nottingham) and Upton (Chester) Anti-Fracking sites have deployed clean burning and efficient ECOZOOM UK rocket  cookstoves for fossil fuel free cooking on site and to keep gas bottles out. John Oulton of Chester Green Party donated an Ecozoom ‘La Mera Mera’ cookstove (pictured) to the Upton site, recently covered by the BBC. John said that it made no sense to be making tea for visitors and journalists using bottled methane gas at an anti-fracking protest site. Ease of use of the ECOZOOM UK high efficiency wood, charcoal and biomass cookstoves, and their low emissions have made them a clear choice for site welfare. The cookstoves quickly became the focus for the sites with visitors able to learn about alternatives to gas use for cooking.

To avoid using fossil fuels and un-renewable power sources we must show alternative options. Ecozoom rocket stoves provide options and lead the way for efficient use of renewable fuels. They are used across the world where fuel sources are limited and can easily cope with fuel supply disruptions to keep you cooking.