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Smokeless Metal Stove (SMS) PDF Print E-mail

Most Nepali households still use open fire places inside their homes for cooking, heating and light generation. Thus it does not come as a surprise that respiratory diseaases are wide spread, especially among women and children, as the pine wood used in the high altitude regions of Humla has a lot of resin and burns with lots of black smoke. Further, cooking on open fire places is a very inefficient use of this ever increasing precious biomass resource. An average household in Humla uses 20 - 40 kg firewood a day for cooking, heating and lighting. Cooking in particular uses large amounts of fire wood as the traditional meal, 'daal bhat' (rice, lentil and vegetables), has to be cooked one after the other.

Smokeless Stove

The RIDS-Nepal developed smokeless metal stove protects people's health as not only is the combustion process much more efficient but it takes all the smoke out of the room through a chimney. Thus the indoor air is claen and the firewood consumption is reduced drastically by 40% to 50%. It allows people to cook 'daal bhat' all at once as it has three burners. Additionally a slit in the top heating plate enables the women to bake the traditional local flat-bread "roti" without opening the main fire door. Additionally, 9 liter stainelss steel water tank, attached to the side of the smokeless metal stove, provides clean, hot water for drinking and washing.

Smokeless Stoves - Healthier Families

How did it start? The co-founder and project director of RIDS-Nepal developed in 1998 the first smokeless metal stove, which after 9 months of thorough testing and improving was finally performing satisfactory and thus ready for production. This improved "Smokeless Metal Stove", or short SMS, was particularly designed for the Humla people's living condition with their cultural and eating habits in mind. The SMS consume up to 50% less firewood, cooks faster and with higher efficiency, as it has 3 burners to allow the cooking the traditional "dhal bhat" (rice, lentil and a vegetable dish) all at the same time. The stainless steel hot water tank is attached as can be seen in the picture. Since 1999 about 4500 families in these remote, impoverished high altitude regions have been provided with this a smokeless metal stove with a 50% financial subsidy, if they participate in a long-term holistic community development project "Family of 4", RIDS-Nepal is running in partnership with villages.

FO4In most high altitude mountain regions such as Humla, people use open fires in the middle of their homes for cooking and for heating, especially during the five cold winter months from November to March. It comes not as a surprise that these open fires are the main cause for the wide spread health problems, in particular among women and small children who are spend more hours a day around the open fire places than other. Our survey shows that the Humla population suffers a great deal under these terrible indoor air pollution. The average daily levels of exposure to particular matters are significant higher than the international maximum allowed levels of exposure. Thus one understands that the Humla people suffer far more than others from respiratory chest diseases, lung cancer, cataract and other eye infections, lung infections, TB, pneumonia and chronic coughs. But that is not all, some of the other devastating effects of open fires are the burns small children get by crawling and falling into the open fire places. Finally the enormous fire wood consumption of open fire places has also to be mentioned as the wide spread deforestation in the high altitude Himalayan region is more than alarming.

RIDS-Nepal trains local people how to use, clean and maintain the SMS properly, so that they can expect a life expectancy from their SMS for >30'000 hours or 15 years. The 50% financial subsidy RIDS-Nepal provides each family partnering with RIDS-Nepal in a "Family of 4" holistic community development project, comes from our long-term project partner and donors, as well as from people who are encouraged by the work RIDS-Nepal is doing.

peoplearoundThe RIDS-Nepal smokeless metal stove uses a double bottom which is insulated with local mud. That gives it more thermal mass and stability. It's fire box (combustion chamber) is designed in such a way that the fire flames can be adjusted with the dynamic air flow valve in such a way that the 3 burners arte hit by the flames directly in the middle. That allows the cooking pots to be heated more efficiently and thus reduces the fire wood consumption. The exhaust air draught in the chimney can be regulated through an adjustable damper valve in the first of three slots of the steel exhaust pipe. That again helps actively to save precious fire wood as the fire burns more efficient.
Experience over the last 10 years has clearly shown, that the use of RIDS-Nepal's smokeless metal stove improves the health situation of the people drastically. The homes of the families are much cleaner, without smoke and black soot in the air. Breathing has become once more easy and families enjoy much more to sit around the warm stove during the long and cold winter nights. The children are much more save and they hands and faces can be regularly washed with the hot/warm water from the stainless steel water tank. Moreover, the local traditional meal can be cooked all at once. Women spend less time cooking and the food is more nutritious and it is less likely overcooked.

It is RIDS-Nepal's aim and vision to continue in partnership with the local communities this SMS program as one of the four important pillars of the "Family of 4" holistic community development programs. RIDS-Nepal will continue to strive to enable every year more and more families to purchase a subsidised SMS and improve their indoor living conditions. This is one important part RIDS-Nepal can play in improving and maintaining the "Gift of Good Health" for the people we live and work with. You too can have a part in one, two or more families' lives. One stove costs approx. US$ 100 (inclusive the air transport).

Please get in touch with us for any further information. Email:

In the following pictures you can see some for the 4500 families who enjoy now a much cleaner home with healthier conditions. All of them they built a Pit Latrine and therefore were able to get the 50% subsidy for the SMS. It is as much our joy to see them more satisfied and able to participate in the development of their families and communities.


For all who would like to know more in detail how the RIDS-Nepal smokeless metal stove looks like and is manufactured, we added in the following some more technical pictures and information. If you feel this is an appropriate technical and cultural solution for the communities you work and live with feel free to contact us for further information and guidance on the manufacturing of this SMS, as it is RIDS-Nepal's aim to keep the developed quality of the SMS. Only in this way we can continue to provide dignified development and the SMS will be able to provide its energy services for the expected life time. Further, in this way it allows to fight the ever increasing deforestation and helps to reduce the drudgery of cutting and collecting fire wood for women and small girls.

Click on the images below for more information

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