Did you know that you can use ammo cans for more than buying ammo cheap and stacking it deep? You can use them to make an ammo can rocket stove. Alternatively, you can buy one pre-built.
I’m a bit of a sucker for backwoods camping gear for the simple reason that I understand the importance of it. It is incredibly disheartening to finish a grueling day of camping, hiking, or hunting and come to the realization that dinner is going to suck because the cooking equipment you brought with you is no good. So, when the Minuteman Rocket Stove showed up in the mail for me to review, I was ecstatic.
There were three main types of products that I tested from Minuteman: the stove itself, Mayan fire sticks, and their fire strikers.
Products mentioned in this article:
Let’s take a closer look at the stove first.
The Minuteman Ammo Can Rocket Stove
The Minuteman Rocket Stove is built out of a .50 caliber ammo can and lined with a ceramic insulation. Everything packs up nice and neat within the can, and as a result, all of the components (which are already pretty sturdy as it is) are well-protected, and there’s virtually zero chance that you’ll ever lose a piece.
Ammo cans aren’t very likely to pop open of their own accord. That was one of the things that I really liked about this stove. I can easily throw it into the back of my truck’s cab and forget about it. I don’t have to worry about it getting beat to pieces or anything like that. It fits into just about any nook or cranny that I can make for it within my vehicle, and as a result, you’re more likely to have it when you need it.
Due to the solid steel construction of the stove, there is a bit of heft to it (14 pounds according to the manufacturer). This is by no means a bad thing, but it does mean you’re going to be more likely to want to use it for camping, BOVs, or grid-down cooking situations than you are to place it in your BOB as bug out bag cookware. If you had multiple people in your bug out group, squad, or what have you, with one person designated as carrying the cooking gear, this would very easily end up being something that you want to take with you.
What Does a Rocket Stove Use for Fuel?
Rocket stoves can pretty much use anything combustible as a fuel source. I’ve done a lot of campground cooking and a lot of backpacking, and I can attest to the fact that this is a major advantage.
Fuel Savings. To begin with, fuel is another expense. If you buy two canisters of fuel per year for your current camping stove, that can easily be $40-50 a year. If all you have to find is sticks to cook with, that expense goes right out the window. Within four to five years, the Minuteman could easily pay for itself with fuel costs alone. Faster if you use it more regularly.
Fuel Sources. Next, with camping, if you run out of the appropriate fuel for your stove (been there), you’re usually screwed. Not only is your meal likely to be ruined (cold lasagna, anyone?), but even if you do end up finding a camping store nearby, you’re still at the mercy of whether or not they even stock the type of fuel that works for the particular stove you own (been there too). With the ammo can rocket stove, you’re able to avoid both of these situations. You’ll never run out of fuel provided you’re outside and able to find somewhat dry sticks. There will virtually always be something combustible within reach.
Reliability. The threads on camping stoves (where the fuel canisters attach) are easily damaged. This is yet another reason to begin your search for an alternative and rugged form of cooking. The Minuteman Rocket Stove fulfills the reliability criteria.
First thing I realized after I had opened up the stove was that the ammo can rocket stove operates on the same principle as a Dakota fire hole, just above ground. For those that don’t know, a Dakota fire hole is in essence a U-shaped tunnel that you dig in the ground.
You put the fuel in one end of it, build your fire, and the fire will suck oxygen to itself through the other end of the tunnel. It’s a commonly taught form of fire for evasion situations due to its low visibility, small amount of smoke output, and ease of hiding after you’re done.
I thought this ammo can rocket stove to be a cool, portable version of the Dakota fire hole. It means you can have the same type of fire method without having to worry about digging a hole, soil conditions, and – if leaving no trace is your goal – it’s even better than the Dakota fire hole. You simply take the Minuteman out, light your fire, cook, and break it down.
Again, whether in a BOV or as a form of anonymous off-grid cooking, this is pretty sweet. If I’m en route to my retreat, I can very easily pull off onto a side road, light the Minuteman, and have a meal without broadcasting my presence too widely.
The Minuteman Cooking Tests
I ran three different tests through the Minuteman Rocket Stove: baking, boiling water, and using larger cookware.
Test 1: Can it Bake?
This was the simplest test of them all, but I wanted to lay the foundations first. First thing I did was bake a blackberry cobbler in a small backpacking pot. At least for myself, the most likely form of cookware that I’m going to have on my person when I need it are backpacking pots and pans. I have a four-piece set that I’ve used for over a decade and store in my bug out bag backpack. It works great for single servings.
I quickly crafted my batter in a bowl, poured it into my pot, and threw my blackberries, sugar, cinnamon, and pecans on top. Then I sat back and relaxed.
Within five minutes, I had a cobbler. It tasted incredible, and I was actually able to get my wife, mother, and mother-in-law to eat some too! They all said it was great! So not only was the Minuteman Rocket Stove capable of baking something quick, but it did so evenly, making for a great tasting cobbler.
Test 2: Boiling Water
The next thing I wanted to see was how quickly it could boil water. I waited to do this one till the next morning so that I could make myself a brew of cowboy coffee. Boiling water is a notoriously fuel-expensive endeavor while camping, so it’s not something that I particularly enjoy doing while out in the woods.
I lit my fire, placed my pot of water on top (another backpacking pot), covered it with the lid, and waited.
I had to shove in more sticks as time went on (probably two handfuls), and it took about ten minutes. Ten minutes of sticks is a whole lot cheaper than ten minutes of Coleman fuel, so it didn’t really bother me.
I set the pot to the side, threw in my grounds, tapped the side of pot with a spoon to get the grounds to settle, and then waited about ten minutes for the grounds to steep. It ended up being the best pot of coffee I’ve had in quite some time.
Test 3: Large Cookware
So by this point the Minuteman Rocket Stove proved it can easily cook with small backpacking pots, so I wanted to see if it could do the same with something much larger. I used a large cast iron skillet, and tried my hand at cooking some summer sausage from a recently shot deer and the lone chicken egg that I’d harvested that morning.
The fire was still hot from the coffee, but it’d burned down to nothing more than coals by this point as I gathered the supplies that I needed. All I had to do was throw some more sticks in there and blow it once or twice and the fire reignited once more with no problems. It took all of thirty seconds for the frying pan to be hot enough to begin cooking the summer sausage.
No problems whatsoever.
Thoughts on The Minuteman Rocket Stove
I was very happy with the Minuteman Rocket Stove. True to its design as a Dakota fire hole, there was little smoke with everything that I did, and there was a minimum amount of fire visible throughout the entire process as well, making this a truly well-hidden form of cooking with available combustible materials.
Really, the low-profile of the stove was one of the main draws for me. The world is growing ever-crazier, and the ability to cook something without broadcasting its presence is something worth noting. Privacy matters. The less you broadcast what’s going on where you’re at, the better. The Minuteman Rocket Stove will help you to do that.
As the manufacturer points out on his Etsy page, the Rocket Stove is fueled with small diameter sticks. That’s 100% true. Every stick that I fed to this thing was little bigger than the size of a pencil.
Where else can you cook your food with a few handfuls of pencil-sized sticks? This thing uses one-tenth of the fuel of traditional open fire cooking. Once more, this is a big deal. Had I actually built a fire to cook the foods that I did, I would have had to gather an exponentially larger amount of firewood that would have created a large and steady column of smoke. Everyone within nose range would have known what I was doing.
To further top everything off, the stove has a manufacturer’s warranty of 3 years and it is 100% handmade in the USA. I highly doubt there’s any part of this thing prone to breakage – the thing is built out of solid steel – but it’s comforting still to know that should something break, there’s a warranty behind it. The manufacturer noted that a single one has ever been returned either, pointing to the fact that not only is this thing pretty much indestructible, but people love it as well. The fact that it’s 100% made in the US (and by a fellow Southerner at that) is a huge plus in my book as well.
I spoke directly with the creator of the stove as well, and he mentioned that a lot of preppers have been buying the stove and keeping them pre-filled with tinder and dust so they’re ready to light as soon as you open the box. This way if you end up in a disaster situation where it’s cold, dark, or you may need to be in a hurry, you can easily just pop open the box, light a fire, and cook your meal quickly with minimal work or stress.
Fire Starting Extras
Minuteman sent additional items as part of this review.
Mayan Fire Sticks
I’m not entirely sure what Mayan fire sticks are made of, but whatever it is, they smell amazing. It reminded me of the smell of sassafras. The packaging advertises these as a Central American fatwood (alright, so I guess I do know what they’re made of), and according to the manufacturer these are upwards of 80% resin. They are very similar to Ecostix Fatwood fire starters.
The directions on the packaging state that the way to utilize these is to scrape off a very fine powder with your knife on top of your kindling within the rocket stove. I used a Cold Steel knife.
I would have small sticks at the bottom, leaves on top of that, shavings from the Mayan fire sticks, and then coat the top with about a thumb’s worth of Mayan fire stick dust. This is what I used every time that I started the Rocket Stove, and I can attest to the fact that this stuff is incredibly flammable. It often burst into flames the very first time that sparks would hit it.
I thought these were a novel method of tinder. I was completely unfamiliar with Mayan dust or Mayan fire sticks, and it was cool to start a fire with these. Normally, I carry Vaseline-soaked cotton balls in a pill bottle for the purpose of fire starting (which would work just fine for the Minuteman as well), but I do really like the idea of being able to just throw a stick in your pocket and being ready to go provided you have a knife on your person. A lot less risk of a greasy mess too.
A few of these can easily be stowed in the bottom of the Minuteman Rocket Stove for future use. That way, as long as you have the stove, you have what you need to start it. It’s a comprehensive kit.
Forever 50 Fire Striker
At a total length of a foot, this thing is sweet, a perfect bug out bag fire starter. I mean, who doesn’t like a fire starter that’s made out of a .50 cal shell? I utilized this for my blackberry cobbler. As far as Ferrocerium fire starters go, this is my favorite one that I’ve ever used. I have bigger hands, and this is one that actually fits in my hand well. The length of the rod means that I can get a bigger shower of sparks off of the end than I can with a smaller fire starter, and I’m able to direct where they go better as well.
According to the owner, the Forever 50 is rated for 100,000 uses and produces sparks of 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. This thing can be around for the long haul.
I started off with the impression that this was going to be a harder fire starter to use. The size of it is noticeably smaller compared to the Forever 50 that I had used the day before. The Minuteman Firestarter was what I used for my coffee and breakfast. Regardless of my initial apprehensions, I was still able to get a fire going with only two strikes on this one. I think this also really attests to the efficacy of the Mayan fire sticks. That stuff will straight up ignite. If you’re looking for a smaller fire starter that can easily fit in the Minuteman Rocket Stove, this is what you want.
This fire starter is rated to approximately 8,000-10,000 strikes, according to the manufacturer as well. So if you’re looking for a high quality fire striker that will not only get the job done, but that fits well within your Rocket Stove, this is what you’re looking for.
Concluding Minuteman Rocket Stove Thoughts
All in all, I thought the Minuteman Ammo Can Rocket Stove to be a great investment. This stove is incredible, did everything I asked of it, and is as portable as it gets. I’m planning on using it for some more camping trips to the mountains in the very near future.
I thought the Mayan fire sticks were fantastic and I’m placing those in various kits I have in my house, vehicles, and office. They’re too easy to use to not have them around.
Regarding the fire strikers, I’m placing the little one within the ammo can rocket stove so that it’s a comprehensive kit ready to go. I’m keeping the Forever 50 fire starter closer at hand throughout my daily life though. If I’m going camping, building a fire at home, or backpacking, that’s now going to be my first choice.
So all in all, I think that the Minuteman is an excellent investment. It’s a great piece of equipment, and I think you’ll find it as versatile as I did. I highly recommend looking into it.