Fireless cooker

A simple cooker that cooks food without fuel

The practical fireless cooker is helping families in Kenya to escape the vicious cycle of poverty that is perpetuated by the sheer struggle to survive.

By making families less dependent on fuel, they no longer have to make the heartbreaking choice between sending their children to school and short-term survival, or going to work and collecting wood.

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The "fireless cooker" uses stored heat to cook food over a long period of time. The food is cooked on a traditional stove, before it's transferred to the fireless cooker. The cooker is well insulated, keeping the heat in the food and allowing it to continue cooking inside.

A simple basket, insulated with local resources such as banana leaves or old clothes, can reduce fuel use by 40%, preserving scarce food and saving people hours of precious time.

How to make a fireless cooker

1 Locally-available material such as recycled clothing is collected for insulation.


2 The insulating material is sewn into a strong basket or box.

3 A lining of tough cloth is glued or nailed to hold the insulation in position.


4 Dry heat-resistant polythene covers line the cloth on the inside, to protect the stuffing.

5 Two cloth cushions are packed around the top and bottom of the pot.


6 A fireless cooker, ready to use.


Read more about how the fireless cooker works, how to build a fireless cooker, and how it can be used, in this introductory guide from Practical Answers:

Fireless Cookers

Fireless cookers are a simple insulating covering that allow pots to continue to cook food even when they are taken off a source of heat.

As a 26-year-old widow, Rose was struggling to feed and provide for her children by selling the few vegetables she could grow at the local market. Since working with Practical Action to make her own fireless cooker, Rose's life has changed dramatically. "I apply some heat to the food in the morning, and then I store it in the fireless cooker, where, as if by some magic, it continues to cook. I can now spend the whole day at market working - providing for my family's future."

This incredible little cooker has given her the confidence to look forward to a better future. Now she can begin to teach others how to make a fireless cooker, helping more families break the brutal cycle of poverty. It's a chain reaction of knowledge that can quickly transform whole communities.

Rose explains, "As a mother I am now happier, knowing my son and daughters do not need to spend hours in the heat of the sun foraging for pieces of wood, so they can now go to school. Who could have known this simple fireless cooker could change things so much for us?"

The fireless cooker can change lives

This one practical solution provides a range of life-changing benefits:

  • Nutritious food Women can cook nutritious foods that previously required lots of fuel for simmering (such as beans, rice and whole maize).
  • Improve children's health The fireless cooker produces no smoke, so there is less risk of children developing respiratory disease.
  • Create opportunities for income generation Women no longer have to spend hours cooking, freeing up time to earn money at the market or in the field.
  • Reduce fuel consumption by an average 40% Women and children can spend less time foraging for firewood, also reducing the need to resort to potentially toxic fuels.
  • Reduce water usage by 25% Water is retained in the food, rather than evaporating, preserving nutrients, flavours and precious drinking water.
  • Help preserve local forests and the environment This 'green technology' will help to reduce the demand for scarce natural resources.

donate online via secure serverJust £16 could could provide two families with a fireless cooker, enabling children to go to school. If you are able to, please make a donation to Practical Action's work today.

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