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Monday, October 3, 2011

Volcano Stove 101, for Dummies

This is a volcano stove.

I've written several articles about the volcano stove, as I've been using it and trying to learn about it.

If you search the internet, you'll find a lot of hype, but very little real practical info.

What is available, tends to be ambiguous, and as I discovered, very frustrating for the beginner.

So this article is meant to be a compilation of practical information that I've learned, based on my recent experiences, that is not found anywhere else.

First, as is widely known, the volcano stove can be used with wood, charcoal, or propane.

It can be used as a grill, or as a stove, using all three types of fuel.

You can take the top grill off and set a wok in it, for stir frying.

There is a "vent" you can open or close. Closing the vent reduces heat. Right is open, left is closed. It's the opposite of "righty tighty, lefty loosy".

If you want to use wood, be sure the pieces are cut to less than 12 inches so they'll fit.

If you want to use charcoal, be sure you put the CENTER PLATE* in place, and put the coals on that. If you don't, it will not get hot enough.

*I know the manual says to put the coals on the bottom-- Don't. It will NOT get hot enough.

This applies whether you are stir frying, grilling, using as a stove, or dutch oven cooking.

If you want to use propane, do NOT use the center plate, for grilling or stir frying.

Only if you're using it as a stove, and want lower heat. The center plate diffuses and reduces heat.

DO NOT use propane for dutch oven cooking. It does not work.

Only use coals for dutch oven cooking. Put coals on the CENTER PLATE, and the pot* over the coals.

*If your pot does not have legs to hold it over the coals, then use a trivet.

Because the volcano is more energy efficient, you won't need as many coals.

Use about 80% less coals than the traditional coal chart, subject to your altitude.

That's a rough estimate; Unfortunately there is no "volcano coal chart". There needs to be.

You have to use an infrared thermometer to monitor the temperature and adjust the coals accordingly.

Use 2/3 on top, and 1/3 on bottom. Ignore the claims about "no top heat." Yes, you do need it.

There is a "middle grill", sold separately, which can go in the same place as the center plate.

There is also a "volcano lid", sold separately, which is a "tent" that allows for convection cooking.

If I can come up with any more helpful info, I'll post it here.

But hopefully, this will give you a good start.

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