Masonry Heaters: Part of an Ecological Cycle

This illustration demonstrates the role of masonry heaters in providing heating and cooking capacity for homes in a long-term sustainable flow of energy and resources.

Masonry heaters are essentially a solar energy solution. Well-seasoned firewood acts as “batteries” for the solar energy captured by trees in forests through photosynthesis. When the wood is then burned cleanly and efficiently in a well-designed firebox, the energy stored in the bonds of complex organic molecules that make up wood are completely released as heat energy. Masonry heaters do a great job of capturing that heat inside their mass, rather than letting the majority escape up the chimney, and radiate it out over an extended period of time.

In ideal combustion, the only two byproducts leaving the chimney are carbon dioxide and water vapor because all of the energy tied up in more complex organic molecular bonds is released. When combustion is not complete, only partially volatilized and unburned organic compounds result which are commonly known as smoke, soot and creosote. Pollution resulting from incomplete combustion represents energy potential underutilized, either by poor stove design or most often by users burning wood that has not been completely seasoned.

Ash is the portion of the fuel which is unburnable, consisting of nutrients and micro-nutrients which can be returned to the soil. These nutrients include calcium, potassium, phosphorous and trace metals.

In order to properly consider wood as a sustainable fuel source for communities, it is important to use extremely efficient appliances such as masonry heaters to provide residential heat and to take seriously the concepts of sustainable forestry practices at a community scale.

Artwork by Jonathan Mears, a friend and collaborator of Firespeaking.

Natural Building Extravaganza

A full-scale, hands-on, multi-dimensional, mud-slingin’ experience!

Eva will be teaching how to make a barrel oven, a cook stove and a wood-fired hot tub!

10 diverse projects and 10 world-renown instructors!
REGISTER SOON ———-> This program will fill!
One, two, or three week options are available.

Ashevillage Institute, Kleiwerks International, Firespeaking, The Natural Builders, MudStrawLove, Artisan Builders Collective, Aaron Maret Design Build Studio

April 24- May 14, 2011
Sunday, April 24: 7-10pm
Monday thru Friday, 10am-6pm
Wednesday evening presentations: 8-10pm
Saturday morning special programs, 10am-1pm
Saturday afternoons & Sundays: Break

Asheville, NC

The Natural Building Extravaganza offers a smorgasbord of learning opportunities with major movers’ n’ shakers of this muddy movement. More than 10 building projects to dive into — all about mud, straw, bamboo, timber, fire, and love! Gain direct, hands-on experience through small group natural building workshops, classes, field trips, slide shows, and more.

Outdoor kitchen • The barrel oven, a highly efficient wood-fired baking oven • Earthen cook stove • Wood-fired hot tub • Rumford fireplace • Earthen grotto • Adobe arches • Strawbale benches • Slipstraw knee walls • Cob niches •  Wattle & daub fence • Earthen courtyard • Relief, sculpture & embedded mosaic • Exterior & interior plasters • Clay-based paints • Bamboo “living” room & hanging garden • Timber-framing • Wall systems • Material selection • Passive solar design

Janell Kapoor, Kevin Rowell, Eva Rose Edleson, Steveo Brodmerkel, Mollie Curry, Steve Kemble, Chad ‘Fez’ Gaetz, Meka Bunch, Ira Friedrichs, Aaron Maret, and guests. Details on bottom half of this page.

Email Janell Kapoor at
(Please include ‘NB Extravaganza‘ in the subject line & remember to mention that you found out about the NBE through Firespeaking)

click on poster to enlarge