Outdoor wood burners are great for parties and friendly gatherings that would otherwise be chilly and uncomfortable. To create the campfire experience in your back yard without spending thousands of dollars, there are a few ideas for inexpensive ways to build wood burners and heat-conserving products from everyday objects.
Make a Wood Burner From a Water Heater
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According to the magazine "Mother Earth News," you can build an outdoor wood burner by converting an old water heater. Most landfills and garbage dumps have no shortage of old electric water heaters, so finding your materials should not be difficult. Water heaters also offer added insulation, as the average water heater is a minimum of three to four times as thick as the metal in a 55-gallon barrel. Additionally, according to Magazine Mother Earth News, "it's very easy to make the stove [from a water heater] as airtight and efficient as any £325 woodburner on the market."
In-Ground Fire Pit
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For a more permanent installation you can spend a few dollars and a few hours of labour converting a small area of your lawn into a reusable outdoor gathering area, even when the temperature drops. First mark out your area and then remove all the grass and vegetation from the area. For your pit you will need a metal container and several bricks. For smaller pits you can use the body of an old charcoal grill, and for larger pits head to the dump or used supply stores for larger campground-style grills or other suitable metal containers able to accommodate more firewood. In the designated spot dig a hole so that the grill will stick out of the ground by one to two inches. Surround the grill with bricks or paving stones that align with the lip of the grill and line the bottom of the grill with bricks or ceramic tiles. Finally cover the area with a layer of sand so that the grill and bricks/stones appear to be at ground level.
Heat-Conserving Wood Burner System
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No matter the type of wood burner you choose to buy or make, you will always run into the same problem: outdoor burners invariably lose most of their heat to the outdoors. However, by building a simple metal umbrella-like shelter you will cut down on heat dissipation and you will need less wood to keep you warm. The size and the span of your umbrella may vary, but you should consider several factors in your construction: heat rises; so the farther the umbrella is from your oven, the longer it will take the metal to heat. The farther the metal is from your head, the less you will feel the heat stored inside the metal. The downward angle of your umbrella and type of metal used (aluminium or some light composite are good choices) will dictate the amount of heat retained. To build your umbrella, find an old steel-framed umbrella, remove the fabric and layer scrap sheet metal over the existing frame.