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Local Living Venture sponsors tours of masonry heaters and rocket stoves

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CANTON — In September 2012, Chelle S. Lindahl opened up her Canton home to 25 volunteers who spent three days building and installing a mass masonry heater and rocket stove in her house.

Ms. Lindahl will open up her home again Saturday to show off to north country residents her efficient heat source, which costs significantly less and uses much less wood than conventional wood-burning stoves.

Ms. Lindahl works for Local Living Venture, an organization that will sponsor a series of in-home tours of mass masonry heaters and rocket stoves in St. Lawrence County starting at 10 a.m. Saturday.

Ms. Lindahl’s new home-heating system cost her just $250. And it’s saving her 50 to 90 percent of the wood that a traditional wood-burning stove requires.

She said two educational consultants from Tonasket, Wash., who make the masonry heaters and rocket stoves helped her and volunteers build a stove out of scavenged old stove piping and cover it with a cob mixture of mud, sand, clay and straw. Ms. Lindahl said they also made a mass masonry heater and warming bench out of stone and covered it with the cob mixture.

“This isn’t a retail operation,” Ms. Lindahl said. “These are all materials that you could potentially find in your backyard.”

The wood goes into a vertical chamber and burns sideways through a tunnel that leads to a 55-gallon drum that acts as a combustion chamber. The heat then transfers through stovepipes that wind around the inside of a warming bench.

“I do a two- to three-hour fire in the morning to warm the bench, and it will radiate heat back into the room the rest of the day,” Ms. Lindahl said.

She said it’s called a rocket stove because the noise caused by rapid air movement created by a heat pump effect within the 55-gallon drum sounds similar to a small rocket.

Ms. Lindahl said one benefit of the new heating system is its safety. She said that since the heater burns not only the wood but the wood’s gases, there is little, if any, creosote, which is a main cause of chimney fires.

“Because it’s burning off the gases as well, you’re getting much more bang for your buck,” Ms. Lindahl said.

She and co-coordinator Jackie D. Bartholomew encourage visitors to carpool, as five homes in Pyrites, West Pierrepont, Potsdam, Southville and Hermon are on the tour.

Ms. Bartholomew said about 24 people have signed up for event so far, and organizers hope for more.

“These stoves use renewable energy,” she said. “We like to teach people skills to make themselves sustainable and capable.”

To register for the tours, contact Ms. Lindahl or Ms. Bartholomew at LocalLivingVenture@gmail.com or call 347-4223.

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