The Newton/San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua) Sister City Project has been awarded a generous grant from the Thoracic Foundation to support their EcoStove Project for two years. The Boston-based Thoracic Foundation supports efforts to combat respiratory illness.

Newton’s EcoStove is made with unbaked earthenware bricks and there is a chimney to vent smoke out of the house (and out of people’s lungs). Credit for the earthenware stove design goes to Newton activists and their Nicaraguan colleagues.

Earthenware blocks and earthen mortar are used instead of Portland cement with its huge carbon footprint. The compressed earthen blocks do not need baking in a kiln, and the EcoStove combustion of wood is concentrated. Therefore, less than half the quantity of wood is used in comparison with traditional open fires. Raw materials (clay-rich earth and a bit of horse manure as a “binder”) are endlessly sustainable and easily available.

The stoves are fabricated by participating families in the community under the supervision of the group’s stove coordinator. Watch how these earthenware stoves are built.

Why build EcoStoves?

José Andrés, chef and the founder of World Central Kitchen, has said:

“Today, nearly half the world’s population still depends on open fires and solid fuels to cook their meals. Millions of people—mostly women, who do the cooking, and their children—die every year because of the smoke and pollution from these fires. Their children, usually daughters, may spend hours each day gathering wood, keeping them out of school and putting them into dangerous situations as they go out alone and unprotected. Cutting trees for fuel leads to deforestation, causing landslides and erosion of fertile land that can run off into the ocean, damaging coral reefs and marine ecosystems. It is a negative feedback loop with huge consequences, and it costs the global economy trillions of dollars annually.

The solution to this global crisis is simple but amazing: clean cooking. If we are able to introduce cleaner, modern cooking energy, and cookstoves for families and communities around the world, we can reverse this negative cycle with a positive one: mothers can cook safely for their families; more daughters can earn an education; forests, soils and reefs can be restored; and the climate can start to heal. Clean cooking is truly the best investment we can make for a healthier humanity and a healthier planet.”

Pressing the earthen mixture into bricks

Completed bricks ready to assemble into stoves

Finished stove in use