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close this book Boiling Point No. 06 - April 1984
View the document Acknowledgements
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Open this folder and view contents GAMBIA - Progress with Urban Stoves
View the document The introduction of an improved charcoal cooking stove in juba, Sudan
View the document User Modification of Charcoal Stoves
View the document Starting from Scratch
View the document "Take another Wife"
View the document Consumption of Firewood in Rural Areas
View the document Charcoal Kiln Testing in Thailand
View the document An Inexpensive and Efficient Mini-Charcoal Kiln
View the document A Simple Laboratory Wood Drying Oven
View the document Clay Testing for Pottery Stoves
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Starting from Scratch


Bill Stewart

ITDG Stoves Project

Since 1980 the organisation Dian Desa in Indonesia had been working in the pottery village of Kasongan near Yogyakarta to make innovative pottery stoves. In 1981 one design, the Tungku Sae, was chosen for production and by mid-1982 a number of potters could make high quality stoves. To increase and standardize production, and give the workers more financial security, a production unit was organized around the best artisan, his wife, and a number of neighbours in late 1982. The production system was divided into steps for which different people were responsible. The stoves were marked with the trademark 'Gunung Api', which means 'Mountain of Fire'. The potters in the village are some of the most skilled in Indonesia who had been involved through the development stages of the stove design, so it was not that difficult to organize a good production system. To produce large numbers of improved stoves in Indonesia the production capability could not just be limited to one unique village, but would have to be spread to other villages.

Therefore Dian Desa has trained potters in a number of villages to produce the Tungku Sae stoves. One of these villages, Pagotan near Yogyakarta, has grown to become the largest producer of Tungku Sae stoves in Indonesia, surpassing the original factory in Kasongan. The experience shows that it is possible to train and organize potters to efficiently and accurately produce improved stoves in a relatively short period of time.



In Pagotan the first step was to show the Tungku Sae to individual potters and see if they could reproduce a facsimile. In July 1982 three potters in Pagotan were contacted and shown the Tungku Sae. They were able and interested so in August they, and one more potter, went to Kasongan for a week to see how the stove was made by more experienced potters. The two men and two women then went back to Pagotan and continued to make the stoves along with their other products. Two more potters considered the stoves to be a lucrative product and also started to produce them and sell them to Dian Desa.

Unfortunately the quality of the stoves was not increasing with experience. There was still a fairly high rate of breakage and the measurements were often incorrect. By February 1983 all but two of the potters had given up producing the stoves because they felt they could not produce them up to standard. At this time the factory in Kasongan was going well and it was decided to try to set up a similar one in Pagotan. In February and March numerous discussions were held with the potters to propose the idea and work out the details. It was agreed that Dian Desa would provide the money to buy raw materials for the stoves, construction materials to build a factory, and would pay the people a monthly salary to produce stoves. The four original potters, two of their husbands, and two other young men were hired to make a work force of eight.

A suitable site was chosen at the home of two of the future employees and the people collected and purchased the materials (for US$ 230) and started to build the 'Cakra' stove factory. A bamboo and thatch building, 16 x 6 metres was constructed and 6 wooden tables built.



Trial production was begun with considerable assistance from the Dian Desa staff and also the leader of the Kasongar factory. Production was divided into 12 steps and different people assigned different tasks.

1. Collecting the black clay from the fields

2. Collecting sand

3. Soaking the black and red clay (delivered by truck) in pits

4. Mixing the black clay, red clay and sand for the proper mix

5. Turning the cylinders on a potter's wheel

6. Making the slabs

7. Fabricating the stoves

8. Cutting the door, air holes, and rear hole and adding the pot rests

9. Drying the stoves

10. Loading the kiln

11. Firing the kiln

12. Unloading the kiln

To increase the quality of the stoves two other improvements were introduced. Some of the men were taken to Kasongan where they saw the improved kiln. They returned and built a similar, slightly larger kiln for US$ 120. A metal slab-making machine was made at the Dian Desa workshop for US$ 75 bringing the total capital cost to US$ 425.

After about three months the people had mastered the production process and could produce 600 stoves per month in four firings. Breakage during firing is less than 5%. The cost breakdown is as follows:


Total cost per month (Rp)

Cost per stove (Rp)

7 workers (at Rp 17,000 ea/month)



1 leader






red clay









US $ = Rp 1000

Assuming a 5 year lifetime for the factory and the kiln, the additional capital cost is Rp 425,000 for 36,000 stoves, or Rp 12 per stove.