Testing a Cloudy Day Cube Stove

By , June 11, 2019

When we ordered our Sun Oven, we received a Cloudy Day Cube Stove as a bonus (see Cooking With Solar). We quickly set it aside; if we’re not cooking with the Sun Oven, then we use our propane stove/oven.

Cloudy Day Cube Stove

The Cloudy Day Cube Stove packed for travel, with instruction sheet (green) included (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Recently, Sun Oven offered a sale on the fuel patties (we call them “Gainesburgers,” harkening back to the dog food form it resembles). At the same time, Aly brainstormed solutions to making lunch while out on a tour. She talked about getting a new mess kit, and wanted some sort of efficient heat source for cooking small meals while waiting for the next tour. I suggested she “adopt” the Cloudy Day Cube Stove as part of her lunch kit.

When the sale came out, I immediately thought about going in on a case of fuel cakes with my sister, whom I recently talked into buying a Sun Oven.

As it turned out, she suggested splitting a case. I brought it up with Michelle, and she, most sensibly, suggested that we try the stove out first. So, I did  . . . .

Cloudy Day Cube Stove

The stove with two fuel cakes stowed inside (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Rather than wait for “The Best Recipe For Testing a Stove” to eventually appear, I decided to keep it simple: I wanted to eat some leftover pasta for lunch, so I decided to steam it (see Fast Cooking: Steam Vs. Microwave).

I’ll tell you from the outset, results proved mixed. Some of this could be due to my first-time experimentation. For instance, I had my own ideas of how the stove might work, despite pretty clear instructions for  proper use. Eventually, I followed the instructions, but by that time, who knows how much heat I might have squandered.

Cloudy Day Cube Stove

The Cloudy Day Cube Stove opened and burning, heating water (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Supposedly, users can break the fuel cakes into sections for use, rather than using a whole cake. I tried to boil the water for steaming using a quarter of a cake, then burned a second quarter to try to finish the job. A whole cake would definitely provide all the heat needed for the job  . . . next time.

The cake started with a match, and burned well. It didn’t emit much smoke, and what little it did smelled pleasant. It seems to be waxed based, if that matters to you.

Perhaps most importantly, it cleans up easily. Yes, the bottom of the pan and the stove got covered in soot, but it wiped off easily with paper towels.

The take away: it’s a good little stove, and will prove useful for Aly’s lunches and also for emergency cooking. The fuel cakes are great, but it can also burn small wood when necessary.

Note: While I am reviewing this item, we received no considerations from the Sun Oven Company for this post.

2 Responses to “Testing a Cloudy Day Cube Stove”

  1. Ekij says:

    Given that you are in a wooded area why bother with a “fuel” stove at all? With a small twig burner you will never run out of fuel. Just pack a pair of secateurs with the stove and you’re golden.

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Ekij,

    We tested the stove for several reasons: Aly’s looking at cooking lunches in a specific place in a short amount of time. The place she’s most likely to make these lunches in is a local park, where overnight camping is allowed. Like most such areas in the U.S., this means any and all burnable fuel is used up by campers before very long.

    Also, we own and use several twig burner stoves. The idea works well, even here in the temperate rain forest, but it requires a good scrounge for enough fuel to cook with, requiring time to gather dry fuel and use it. This would take time out of her meal window, and can be a frustrating exercise when one feels hungry and rushed (I can vouch for this from experience). If she’s going to have the time to cook a meal, having ready synthetic fuel on hand would be a plus. Often, she packs a cold lunch, then brings it home, because she’s so tightly scheduled she doesn’t have time to grab bites of it when she’s hungry! She’ll be lucky to cook any meals in the time allowed without needing to look for fuel.

    Aly took one of our twig burners with her to a Wilderness First Responder Training last year. Even in the drier central California countryside, she found collecting enough fuel for the stove in the campground tedious. She also had to compete with everyone else who planned to glean dry fuel from the surroundings.

    Even so, my purpose was to test the stove using the fuel cakes. The stove works perfectly well as a twig burner. In actual use, we’d likely use a piece of the cake as fire starter, then feed its flame with whatever dry fuel we can scrounge. Once the fuel cakes are used up, we’ll continue to use the stove without them, I’m sure.

    Lastly, we got the stove described in the post and several fuel cakes to use in it for free. Had we gone in with my sister on the case of fuel, it would have included another stove, which my sister would have used. In her more urban living conditions, she has no way to scrounge dry fuel for a twig burner, so by going shares on the case, we’d improve her emergency supplies.

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