Rocket Mass Heaters 4-DVD Set – Kickstarter – Paul Wheaton

The absurdly efficient, ridiculously cheap, surprisingly comfortable way to heat your home

About this project – Paul’s Kickstarter can be found here

The annual cost of a rocket mass heater is less than a tenth of the annual cost of natural gas – and that’s if you buy the fuel instead of harvest it yourself. And a rocket mass heater emits less than a tenth of the greenhouse gasses. Many rocket mass heaters will heat a home with a tenth of the wood of what a conventional wood stove will use. The trick is to mix modern science with knowledge from hundreds of years ago: Burn the smoke; capture heat from the exhaust; focus on the more efficient forms of heat (radiant and conductive heat are favored over convective heat); and, most of all, use a mass to hold the heat for days


cross sectional image of the innards of a standard rocket mass heater

A look at the innards: The fire is at the bottom of the sticks. The strong thermosiphon draft in the riser causes the fire to burn sideways. Rather than immediately extracting the heat, like a conventional woodstove, the heat goes into an insulated area where it gets much hotter. Hotter than molten steel or lava. The sharp turn causes the smoke to mix with the flames, thus burning the smoke. The exhaust is then carried through the mass and outside. More details can be found here.


Erica Wisner soaking in the warmth of her creation

I am so bonkers about rocket mass heaters that two years ago I did a kickstarter for DVDs of a rocket mass heater workshop! Interest was far greater than I expected. MASSIVE! Wow! So my friends and I have carefully collected a lot more footage and we focused on much higher video and sound quality.

So we now have footage of building:

  • a cob style rocket mass heater in a log structure
  • a cob style rocket mass heater in a tipi
  • a pebble style rocket mass heater in an office
  • a pebble style rocket mass heater in a shop
  • a pebble style rocket mass heater in a conventional living room
  • three wood box style shippable cores
  • three small molded shippable cores
  • three molded shippable cores with manifold
  • three batch box variations
  • an outdoor rocket mass heater that doubles as a BBQ, cooker and smoker
  • an outdoor rocket mass heater “ring of fire” with glass in the burn tunnel
  • a batch box style rocket mass heater with careful measurements of the exhaust
  • an indoor rocket stove with a griddle, oven and hot water
  • a batch box rocket mass heater with the heat directed into the floor

This new kickstarter is about doing all the production work to use this footage to bring four more DVDs:


If a person was going to get just one DVD, this would be the one. A cob style rocket mass heater is “the old reliable”. We have two projects to demonstrate this technique. One in a log home and one in a tipi. We put one in a tipi as part of an experiment to test how warm a person can be with a rocket mass heater and zero insulation. We interview the couple that stayed in the tipi for the first winter, with a strong focus on how comfortable they were when it was 26 degrees below zero.


Cob style rocket mass heater built in a log home


Building a cob style rocket mass heater in a tipi


We will show the construction of three pebble style rocket mass heaters. The difference with these is that the mass is usually a wood bench filled with pebbles and rocks. A different aesthetic. These designs are (relative to cob style) easy to move and modify. They also tend to be lighter, thus, better for installing in places that have a wood floor.


Pebble style rocket mass heaters.


The kickstarter from two years ago showed an early prototype. We were certain that by the time the video came out, people could buy a shippable core and plug it in. In the time that has passed, that didn’t happen. We ended up releasing a variety of information on how to make your own – and now, in this video, we supply the “how to” video for a variety of techniques.


A variety of rocket mass heater shippable cores


Last fall we put on an event where Ernie and Erica invited several rocket mass heater innovators that they thought were the best in the world. Each innovator was provided with the materials to create whatever they wanted. The results were: “the ring of fire” – a rocket mass heater shaped in a circle with glass to show the burn; an outdoor rocket mass heater/cooker/smoker; A “batch box style” rocket mass heater with measured output cleaner than anything we have ever encountered; An indoor rocket stove, griddle and water heater.


Artifacts from the rocket mass heater innovators event

Micro-Documentary and Candy for All Backers!

This 20 minute long video will show several different rocket mass heater experts lighting several different rocket mass heaters and giving their tips for the proper use and care. This microdoc is for ALL of the supporters of this kickstarter.

All supporters will also receive the microdoc from my previous kickstarter World Domination Gardening. This 16 minute video is all about hugelkultur – a way to create a garden that you don’t have to irrigate.

We will also include 19 podcasts going into extreme detail about rocket mass heaters.

Note that in order to pull this off for a dollar for each person, some things will be available for just a short window of time. We will email you and you will have just a few days to download the product.


the completed cob style rocket mass heater in the tipi

8-DVD set

This would be the four DVDs listed above, plus the four DVDs from the previous kickstarter. The four new DVDs are designed to offer material not found in the earlier four DVDs. So the new effort does not replace the old effort. Here are the previous four DVDs which will now be numbered 5 through 8:

DVD 5 – Fire Science: This one shows the many interesting ways heat works. Essential for understanding how a rocket mass heater works.

DVD 6 – Sneaky Heat: The theory behind the rocket mass heater, plus the build of a rocket mass heater.

DVD 7 – Boom Squish: Pressurized hot water – with a strong emphasis of the dangers of pressurized hot water mixed with rocket stoves.

DVD 8 – Hot Rocket: Pocket rockets, rocket stoves, a race between a propane turkey cooker and a rocket stove, a poor man’s forge, tools, etc.

DVD vs. HD Streaming vs. Digital Download

We’re putting a lot of emphasis on HD streaming or digital download. DVD delivery is four to six weeks later; plastics are involved; packaging to fill dumps; petroleum burned in delivery; and most of all, a huge portion of the risk we take for the kickstarter is funds for quality printing and shipping. The only upside to DVD is that after you watched it, you can pass your copy on to somebody else.

I really want to encourage people to get digital download. I’ve made the prices extra, extra sweet for digital download. These will be smaller file sizes so they can fit easily on phones, tablets or computers. This will be an MP4 file – so you have to be able to play an MP4 file.

HD streaming requires a high speed internet connection. You can watch it as many times as you like for many years to come.

World Domination

If you select the “PYRONAUT” award, your name will be listed in the credits like this:


Better Rewards This Time

During my last kickstarter I realized that when somebody supports me via kickstarter, they are, effectively, saying “I trust you to provide something awesome. Before there is even one review of the final product. I trust you so much that I will wait six months for this!” And that made me think that rather than provide the product at a fair price, I want to figure out a way to provide the product at a much lower price on kickstarter. Even more than that: I want to put a LOT of extra stuff into the product just for the kickstarter supporters. Thanks so much for making this project become a reality!



Ernie and Erica Wisner, the stars of this series

Ernie Wisner is an arctic fisherman, turned natural builder with a passion for staying warm. He has built about 700 rocket mass heaters. In these new videos, Ernie will run point on several of the builds, and his greatest innovation is the ceramic fiber shippable cores that might be pushing 4000 degrees F (note that steel is liquid at 2600).

Erica Wisner is a science teacher with great skills at being the human interface between people and Ernie. :) Erica was named “rocket mass heater innovator of the year” in 2014 for her work in several castable shippable core designs.

Ernie and Erica make a great team as Ernie works like a freight train to get amazing things done and Erica helps us to understand what we are seeing.


rocket mass heater creators

Peter van den Berg

Peter van den Berg is one of the top rocket mass heater innovators in the world. He has been interested in efficient wood burning, mostly by way of masonry heaters for the last 30 years. Since 2007 he has been investigating and developing different rocket heater variants. He was among the first to post emissions-testing data on rocket firebox models, and his attention to detail has led to two new firebox refinements that reduce emissions even further.

Matt Walker

Matt is a designer, builder, and tinkerer who spends his time collecting firewood and growing food on his farm on the Olympic Peninsula. A lifelong wood burner with a curious mind, he has been designing and refining wood burning devices since childhood.

Tim Barker

Tim has come a long way since his days as a diesel fitter mechanic and now spends his time as a semi professional pyromaniac and mad scientist teaching people how to burn stuff and make really cool machines and devices for low carbon living. He has previously been farm manager for the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, power station operator/mechanic, adventure guide and professional turtle wrestler. His rocket stove and char making powered hot water systems, ovens and cookers reflect his passion for elegant simple and durable combustion technologies.

Emily Aaston & Tony Aiuppa

Tony and Emily are the couple that lived in the tipi at Wheaton Labs for about a year. They helped build the rocket mass heater in the tipi, and the tipi itself. They also had a huge role in building the log homes out at Wheaton Labs. They refer to themselves as nomadic homesteaders and travel all over the world trying to be self-reliant and live through permaculture principles. They both often work seasonally for the National Park Service as Wilderness Rangers or Trail Workers in parks and then do the ol’ homesteading or WWOOFing thing the other parts of the year!


production crew

Barthelemy Glumineau

Barthelemy is a multi-talented artist. He is a circus performer, working in his own creations or for companies such as Cirque du Soleil. He is also very active in video/photo production, involved in every step from scripting and directing to post-production, for broadcast, web or live events. In parallel to those areas, he is a world traveler, builds open-source hardware and is more and more involved in permaculture and natural building movements.

Bryce Phelps

Bryce Phelps is a quirky videographer who, with his wife, ditched societal life and moved into a spiffy bus. A consummate perfectionist, he handles his craft with a precision like few others. And he’s downright cool, too. Give him a couch, a chainsaw, and some bondo and this man will craft you a commercial. He’ll even throw in a Sasquatch for a nominal fee.

Raleigh Latham

For the past 7 years, Raleigh has combined his two biggest passions, permaculture and film. He works with people all across the world to expose epic permaculture projects, both large and small. He is most interested in re-wilding, Holzer permaculture, biochar, and vagabonding.

Kristie Wheaton

Kristie Wheaton lives out at Wheaton Labs and homesteads with her husband Tim Wheaton (Paul’s brother) and their three kids. Kristie has some fancy pants camera gear and a knack for being at the right place at the right time.

Formidable Vegetable Sound System

Western Australia’s Formidable Vegetable Sound System are the world’s most triumphant experiment in ‘ecological electroswing,’ busting out energetic, quirky mashups of speakeasy-style antique-beats with live ukulele wonk, hyperactive horns and the principles of permaculture.

These DVDs and all of my kickstarters are borne from the community interactions at (where we talk about rocket mass heaters, homesteading and permaculture, all the time!) combined with the mighty power of the daily-ish email.

Risks and challenges

The scariest thing so far has been the much higher goal this time. Mostly due to a shift in HOW the DVDs will be printed, and the minimum order of 1000 for this kind of printing. Then, to print 1000 single DVDs, 1000 4-DVD sets and 1000 8-DVD sets. This is the most I have ever asked for in a kickstarter.

This is my third kickstarter featuring DVDs, so I feel pretty good about how to go about it. I learned a great deal on my previous kickstarters. As always, the biggest risk is the unknown. What could pop up this time that did not pop up on the previous times?


  1. Can’t wait to get the videos. Purchasing land in East Tennessee to build an earthen shelter with a rocket mass heater as the centerpiece!

  2. Please send me an email once you are ready to sell. (Download will do) Looking forward to it- Well done! Many hugs from Ireland..

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