Vantage Rock Climbing, The EcoZoom Dura Lite, & Dirtbag Jambalaya
A weekend of rock climbing in Vantage, Washington spawned a new camping recipe for the ages: Dirtbag Jambalaya.
Typically Memorial Day is the kick-off to the summer camping season, but we took the liberty of jumping the gun by one week because we couldn’t wait any longer. The forecast this past weekend called for rain here in Portland, OR (surprise, surprise) which meant staying local wasn’t the best option for getting outside for some fun. Luckily, the Cascades act as our natural defender against rain when we want to head East and escape. Being that it had a been a few weeks since our last rock climbing trip we decided to pack it up and head East to Vantage, Washington and the Frenchman Coulee.
Most people know this area for the Gorge Amphitheatre and the music festivals that thousands of people flock to each summer. While it is an amazing venue for outdoor music festivals, it’s also one of the premier venues for rock climbing in the Northwest. This area is made up of tall basalt columns that offer great photography opportunities with a mix of lichen growing on the columns and the wavy cracks that separate each column.
Looking up at a few of the many basalt columns of the Sunshine Wall
After a day in the sun climbing routes that were mostly made up of balancing moves along arêtes and ledges, we rewarded ourselves with only the finest beer, Rainier (aka Vitamin R), and some Dirtbag Jambalaya that we cooked using two Dura Lite stoves. The Dura Lite stoves are great for car camping because they are lightweight (13 lbs), easy to use, and put out enough heat to cook just about anything. Fuel is never an issue either since firewood or sticks nearby work as fuel. In case you are wondering, here is how one arrives at Dirtbag Jambalaya:
Prep time: 10M
Cook time: 15M
- Vegetable Pasta: 1 box
- Tuna: 1 can
- Hot Dogs: 4-5 Links
- Jalapeno peppers: 2 chopped
- Onion: 1 chopped
- Mixed Greens: 1 cup
- Vegetable oil: 1 tablespoon
The Dura Lite made for the perfect camping stove. Lightweight and easy to use with the fire wood we already had.
One Dura Lite was used to boil water and cook the pasta while the other Dura Lite was fired up to simmer the tuna, hot dogs, jalapeno peppers, onions, & greens in vegetable oil within a skillet.
Once all that was done, we mixed it together in a bowl and bam, Dirtbag Jambalaya was born! The people of New Orleans would probably not allow us to step foot in their city after this dinner, but when life gives you pasta, tuna, hot dogs, jalapenos, onion, and greens…now you know what to do.
Cooking on our Dura Lite was easy, it took just two foot long sticks of wood roughly 1.5” x 1.5” to simmer the Jambalaya and a third to boil our water for the pasta. All in all it was a great weekend full of rock climbing, camping and cooking!
We hope everyone is able to get outside to enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend, and if you do cook a meal on an EcoZoom stove we would love to hear from you!
About the Author:
Tom Pritchard is an EcoZoom employee and likes to cook outdoors with his EcoZoom stove on camping trips or sunny days. You can email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
20 May 2013
EcoZoom’s Founding Team Moves to Kenya!!
This is EcoZoom Amanda writing my first blog post to share some exciting news with you. Our founding team (Ben, Phil and me) is moving to Kenya! We’re nervous, excited and overall ready to rock the cookstove world in Nairobi and the whole of East Africa.
Our base of operations will be Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. Believe it or not, Nairobi is fast becoming the African home of choice for multinational companies looking to grow their presence on the continent. Firms such as Google, IBM and Pfizer are all looking to make Nairobi the base of their continent-wide operations as they race to be part of Africa’s growth story. The same is true of the international development sector. NGOs and social enterprises working on issues like health and energy are also concentrated in the city. We’re excited to have a permanent physical presence there so we can connect with more of these organizations and cooks who need our product.
We’ll soon be introducing our new charcoal only cookstove, the Zoom Jet, into the market (pictured on right). Charcoal is the main fuel source for cooks in urban areas without access to gas or electricity. But, making charcoal is a highly inefficient process that is harmful to the environment. Basically, you cut down a tree, cover it with topsoil and leaves then light it on fire. The slow pyrolysis and absence of oxygen makes charcoal. However, only 10% of that tree will make charcoal because the conversion efficiency is so low. That means you have to cut down a ton of tress to get a little bit of charcoal.
The Kenyan government has put restrictions of making charcoal but instead of stopping the process, it’s created a black market for it. Cooks need it and are willing to pay black market prices because it’s cheaper than electricity or gas. In urban areas in Kenya nearly 1 million households spend over $1USD per day, or 15-20% of household income, on charcoal for cooking fuel. Most Americans only spend 4% of their income on energy. Can you imagine if your electric bill was $750 a month vs. $150? That is equivalent to the energy burden of these cooks.
The Zoom Jet will save end consumers 55% in fuel costs and eliminate 70% of harmful air pollutants – “black carbon” that kills a documented 14,000 Kenyans a year. It is also the world’s first charcoal cookstove to use both convection and radiation heat; providing superior thermal efficiency through superior design. Designed by the Aprovecho Research Center, Diana Sierra LLC, and EcoZoom, the Zoom Jet has shined through a rigorous one-year pilot conducted with eight partner organizations in six countries. In Kenya, cooks reported fuel savings between 50 and 70 percent, and after one year of use our pilot participants couldn’t believe the stove maintained its bright color and was cool to touch while cooking.
Here is the story of one pilot participant, Erica. Erica lives in the Gatina slum of Nairobi. She received her stove from the Paradigm Project (our pilot partner in Nairobi) in February of 2012. The Paradigm Project made several follow-up visits over the months and I went to visit Erica in February of 2013 to hear the results first hand.
Erica said she has been using her stove twice a day, every day since she received it. Unless, she is letting one of her friends borrow it so they can see how “smart” it is. She says the stove saves her around 280 shillings ($3.25) a week in charcoal expenses. Erica is happy with the savings and uses the extra money to buy things for her home. She prefers the Zoom Jet to her old stove (a Kenya Ceramic Jiko) because it saves fuel and cooks fast.
Erica wanted to know when the stoves would be able for purchase in Nairobi so she can tell her friends to buy one. Her son, who lives a few blocks away and saw the benefits of the stove first hand, asked the same thing because he wants to sell them in the neighborhood.
That was a little glimpse of the results we’ve gotten to date and why we’re so excited to bring this product to market. So, stay tuned for more tales from Nairobi as we work to create a commercial market for clean cookstoves in the city and beyond.
About the Author:
Amanda West is an EcoZoom employee and likes to talk to cooks in developing countries to see how to improve our stoves to fit their needs.
Confronting camp stoves and single-use propane canisters
EcoZoom rocket stoves provide a sustainable option to single-use steel propane canisters which can result in problematic waste and recycling options.
As Summer quickly approaches, campers are starting to build out their go-to camping kits for the outdoor season. With each individual camping need comes many choices for campers to weigh when choosing a product. Sleeping bags, tents, camp chairs, and backpacks come in all shapes and sizes with features and benefits that must be compared against one another. Camping cook stoves are no different, but there are some things you should know prior to purchasing.
If you go to a campground this season it’s likely that the majority of campers will be cooking on a propane burner. Coleman® and Camp Chef are two of the more popular brands that use propane canisters to fire up the grill, and many campers love them for their ease of use, temperature regulation, and being able to use them where open fires are not allowed. What isn’t so easy is disposing of the single-use propane canisters the stoves use once they are empty.
Unfortunately federal law doesn’t allow for transport of small propane cylinders that have been refilled, therefore the canister needs to either go in the trash or be recycled. Before that can happen, each canister must be completely emptied, otherwise it is considered hazardous waste since propane is highly flammable. To further complicate the issue, finding a recycling center for the canisters isn’t always easy.
You get the point – due to the amount of campers using single-use propane canisters, the impact potential on the environment is significant. An article from Ontario Parks sums up the expense that single-use propane canisters can create. Some campgrounds have adopted their own recycling programs, but many have not. This is where EcoZoom stoves come in.
Joshua Tree National Park and some other National Parks offer propane canister recycling.
EcoZoom stoves can burn wood, charcoal, or solid biomass in a safe and controlled environment while still meeting all your camp cooking needs of portability, durability, temperature sensitivity, and heat output without any added disposable waste. The technology and design of the combustion chamber can heat up a skillet or boil water just as quickly (and likely more quickly) than a propane burner while emitting 70% less smoke and burning 60% less fuel than a traditional campfire. That means just a few sticks or a handful of charcoal to make the most of your camp cooking needs.
Camping stove options are a plenty and propane will likely be the go-to for most, but don’t forget about the other options on the market. Wood, charcoal, or even solar cook stove options can meet your needs, be fun to use, and result in less impact than single-use propane canisters.
Looking for how to dispose or recycle your propane canister? Read Coleman® propane cylinder disposal instructions here.
About the Author:
Tom Pritchard is an EcoZoom employee and likes to cook outdoors with his EcoZoom stove on camping trips or sunny days.