Batch Box Rocket Mass Heater Workshop 2nd to 6th Nov – Mallorca

Batch Box Rocket Mass Heater Workshop 2nd to 6th Nov – Mallorca

Its been a long time!!!

We have been hard at work building the house, having a baby and getting up and running with my new business running Wim Hof Method workshops, but we are back!!

From the 2nd till the 6th of November we will be hosting a batch box rocket mass heater workshop by Peter Van Den Berg.

We are bringing Peter over to help us build our Bach Box Rocket Mass Heater as we thought it would be a great opportunity to do our first “Permaculture” related course and get one of the best in the game to help us build our heater.¬† Multiple functions and all that ūüėČ

We have chosen Peter Van Den Berg because, as far as I can make out on the internet, he is “THE MAN” when it comes to batch box rocket stoves.¬† He took a concept put forward by someone else and improved and expanded it.¬† He is basically the inventor of the batch box rocket mass heater as we know it today, even though the concepts that are used are from other people.

In¬†Peter’s own words “I took an idea of Lasse Holmes and added the venturi port, among other things. The implementation of bell technology in the batchrocket concept is all my doing but of course it existed before, as is the venturi.

I see myself more as developer and designer, bringing diverse pieces of tech together. That’s what most inventors do these days, building on the work and combining work of others.”

What is a Batch Box Rocket Mass Heater?
A¬†Batch Box Rocket Mass Heater is a very efficient wood burning stove that burns at a very high temperature and then feeds the gases of the burn through (in our case) a masonry bench.¬† The bench captures the heat and then acts as a radiator a.k.a “butt warmer”.

batch box

A batch box burning palette wood from one of Peter’s builds.

A “batch box” rocket mass heater is different from the more commonly known rocket mass heaters(RMH) in that it has a firebox that looks more live a conventional fireplace instead of the “j-tube”.¬† This means that you can actually see some flames in the box and gives you a more traditional feel although it burns very differently, so you wont be getting the nice little flames that you get from a conventional fireplace.¬† It also allows you to put a big “batch” of wood in (which is where it gets its name from) light it up and walk away as opposed to the normal RMH that you have to¬†keep feeding throughout the burn.¬† The batch box RMH generally doesn’t have the oil drum burn chamber that is customary of RHM’s and instead has a brick “bell”.¬† This isn’t always the case though.

The classic RMH with

The classic RMH with “J tube” firebox

With Peter’s help we designed our heater to fit in a corner of our house with a nice “butt warmer” bench.¬† We chose the batch box over the¬†normal type RMH because we didn’t want an oil drum in the middle of our lounge and because I like the idea of being able to chuck in a batch of wood and forget about it.

batch box rocket mass heater

Peter’s design for our batch box rocket mass heater

From what I have seen on the internet, it is usual to just have to burn one or two batches per day to keep the house warm, as opposed to a conventional fire place that needs to be constantly on the go.¬† This is because a rocket mass heater heats the “mass” of the bench that then keeps on radiating heat into the house (even though the fire is out).

Another¬† benefit of¬†RMH’s is that you can burn any type of wood, from logs from trees to scrap wood like palettes etc.¬† The high temperature burn also means that these are very safe, as they don’t form creosote in the chimney, so there is no risk of creosote fires.

All in all we love the efficiency of the batch box rocket mass heater, the “butt warmer” and the fact that you can build one yourself.¬† They are much more efficient than anything you can buy and they use only 1/4 the wood of other wood burning stoves, which will save us a lot of money in the long run.

If you want to learn more about batch box rocket mass heaters you can visit Peter’s website or better than that you can come to our workshop, meet Peter and learn directly from him while you help us build our heater.

In full disclosure, we are not making any money from this course.  We will try to cover some of the costs of getting Peter over here to help us build the heater. Part of our motivation for this blog and building our home is to inspire  and empower others to go out and do the same, if that is what you want.  This all means that the course is very cheap! and its a win win for everyone involved.

Link to Peter Van Den Berg’s site:

Link to the Batch Box Rocket Workshop on the 2nd November 2017

I will also try to do a video update soon as the house has changed a lot since our last update!

Its been a long time!!

Its been a long time!!

Its been since February since we put up a post but a lot has happened since then!

I have just added an instagram widget which you can see on the right of the screen. ¬†I take a couple of photos and videos a week, mostly when I go outside and have a “wow” moment. ¬†The scenery here is always changing and really beautiful around sunrise and sunset. ¬†So you will find plenty of photos to see what we have been up to lately there.

This summer we took the roof off the building and insulated with 15cm of polystyrene. ¬†We went for polystyrene over something more “eco” because of the cost. Our sustainable ethics can only stretch as far as our budget and we have maximized the use of natural building materials elsewhere. ¬†Also for the same price we would have only been able to insulate with 5 cm of natural cork instead of 15cm, and polystyrene has much better insulation qualities at the same thickness than¬†natural cork.

We noticed a difference straight away in how cool the house was over the summer.  If we closed all of the windows in the morning while the house was cool, it stayed that way all day.
photo of roof with insulation

We have just finished plastering the outside of the building.  We chose to go with an insulated lime, cork and diatomaceous earth plaster at about 1.5cm thickness.  This  is really a minimum, but we think that with the roof being well insulated and the fireplace, we will make it just fine through the winter using a minimum of wood.

At the moment the temperature is about 9 degrees C in the mornings and the house is staying at around 19 – 20 degrees C even with the windows open.

Here is a video about the plaster:

The house looks great!  And that is one of the major jobs we had left that is finished.
house with lime plaster

Here is a video of the final lime plaster coat being applied over the insulation base layer:

The boys hard at work! #limeplaster #naturalbuilding

A video posted by Luke Wills (@lukemallorca) on

The lime plaster for the finish coats is made locally and the company that makes it have been very helpful with recommending good workmen for applying lime.  It is also great to be able to support a local company that make sustainable building materials.
You can find out more about them here:

We now have just the final coat on a couple of walls on the inside of the building and a bathroom to finish, and that will be all of the big stuff done!

This week I have been digging trenches for the cables to the solar panels. Today I have to dig some holes for the foundation of the solar panel structure which is arriving next week.  After the solar panel structure is built, we will order the rest of the solar panels and the batteries and install our big system.

I often put up videos on our youtube channel and dont update the blog so you can get small updates there and on the instagram feed.

Click here to visit out youtube channel

Click here to visit our instagram

New Year, New Home!

After two years of hard work, we are finally in!

We now have running, hot water in the house, electricity from solar panels and internet!

We have been living here since just after Christmas and are really enjoying it.  We get to watch the sunrise every day while having breakfast and then see the stars come out at night.  Its amazing how disconnected you get from all of this when living in the city.  In the last place we lived in, we were surrounded by buildings and never saw the moon or stars, you couldn’t even tell if it was a nice day from inside the house. Its a real pleasure to live in a house that faces south, with big windows that let the light stream right in all day long which is a massive bonus on these short winter days.

Here is a quick video showing our progress on the finca and going over the basic things that we needed to get sorted so that we could start living here.

We will make more in depth videos on each of the individual components solar, water, chickens etc.  this video is just a quickie to wish you a Happy New Year and show some signs of life as our last post was a while back.

The general pace of the build has slowed down now and we have more time for other things (apart from just trying to get in) so I will make an effort to put up videos on a more regular basis.

The Making of: Biochar TLUD Kiln for our DIY water filtration system

You can download plans to make the biochar kiln here:

You can learn more and download the plans to make the water filtration system here:

for further information about the water filtration and purification system:

If you missed our last post on the water purification system you can find that here:
DIY Water Filtration and Purification System

DIY Water Filtration and Purification System

Here is the link to the people who designed this water filtration system.

Link to their resource page where you can download manuals on how to build this system and larger ones and how to make biochar.

Quick explanation of how the Biosand Filter works:

this isnt the one we built but works exactly the same.

We havent had the water tested yet because we havent finished the biochar stage.  We willl post another video once we get the water tested with the results.

Introduction to Passive Solar Design

After yesterdays video I thought I would make a more specific introduction to Passive Solar design in Google Sketchup.

Here are some links from the content in the video:

In my first blog post I explain how I used the passive solar design principles in designing our outhouse:
Click here to read the blog entry

The Solar House Book


Ubuntu and Google Sketchup, Simple Overview.

I have just downloaded a program to record my screen so I thought that I would make a quick video to show you two things that I like very much.  Those two things areUbuntu and Google Sketchup.

Ubuntu is an open source operating system that is the only real direct competition to windows and mac.  The best part about it is that its free AND it has all of the functionality and control of windows and speed and stability of the mac operating system.  Its a WIN WIN situation on all fronts.  I have been using it for about a year now and would never go back.

You can find out more about Ubuntu here:

The second thing is Google Sketchup, sketchup is a 3D design program that is super useful for designing anything and is also free.
You can download sketchup here:

Sorry for the audio quality on the video’s, I was using the computer mic.

Here is the bit I couldn’t show you in the last video about the sun path.

THE MANDALA GARDEN by the Apprentice Permaculturist

Today was a momentous day – we started our veggie garden! It’s hard work but it’s worth it, knowing with every shovel of earth we are a little bit closer to eating our own organic veg ūüôā

So our huerto (Spanish for vegetable garden) is – obviously – based on the principals of permaculture. As most of you know I am an Apprentice Permaculturist so was happy to work under the Head Permaculturist’s guidance while he got on with fitting the door to the solar battery cupboard! One of the first steps with permaculture, whatever you are doing, is planning: the better you design it, the better it will serve you and the more yield it will give you for the least effort. It appears that the current stage is where most of the effort goes – hard digging on a hot spring day!

So we are following a design for a mandala garden¬†from Linda Woodrow’s book the Permaculture Home Garden. The concept is that the veggie beds are circular (which is the most efficient use of space) and in a keyhole design so that you can reach all over the bed either by walking round the edge or by standing in the centre. This is so that you never have to step on the bed and therefore avoid compacting the soil which would mean re-digging every season. Each bed is 4 metres from side to side and there are 6 beds, arranged in equal spacing around a central circle of the same size.

keyhole bedThe Permaculture Home Garden

After marking the outline of each of the beds, we chose one to start working on and then dug a path all the way round the edge, just wide enough to be comfortable to walk on. The earth that was dug out from the path was chucked inside the circle to allow more earth for planting. What this also does is to raise the bed up a bit, above the level of the path, so that in the case of heavy rain, the water will drain off into the path and the bed itself will not get waterlogged.

Once the path was dug and the earth evened out on the bed, it was time for one of the principal concepts in the world of permaculture: MULCHING! Mulching, a wonderful and very important word which is becoming a big part of my life. It basically means “composting in place” and is a great example of another key concept in permaculture: MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS. All you do is to lay¬†organic material over the earth and look at all the functions this covers:

  • Protects the earth from the harsh rays of the sun to stop from scolding and drying out, keeping it cool and damp and stopping evaporation
  • Allows any water to seep in gradually to soak the earth in a more even and effective way
  • Provides protection for worms and beneficial insects
  • The organic material will decompose over time and enrich the soil
  • A thick layer of mulch will also provide wind protection for seedlings until they grow a little stronger.

Good materials for mulching are hay, cardboard (recycling!), paper (watch out for prints which may contain toxic ink), or any garden refuse that you may have from trimming back other plants. We are using hay as we have a few bales of it on the land right now. Don’t forget to wet the soil before starting to mulch, and if you are mulching quite heavily then you can wet in between layers too.

Mandala Veggie Plot

So now we have a nicely prepared bed awaiting the first round of veggies which are to be planted this weekend!  Yum yum yum yum…..