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close this bookBoiling Point No. 21 - April 1990 (ITDG Boiling Point, 1990)
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View the documentThe Silkalon Stove
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View the documentLetter to the Editor
View the documentNews

The Silkalon Stove

A New, Woodburning Stove from AGTALON in the Philippines

A study on fuelwood collection conducted by the Regional Development Centre - Northern Luzon (Philippines) showed that firewood gathering is, indeed, a very demanding family activity This challenged the Agro-Technical Assistance and Liveli hood Opportunities in the North (AGTALON), a non- government organization, to develop and introduce a fuel-saving clay stove called "Silkalon". The stove, developed by Mr Gil Padilla of AGTALON, has been proven to have the following advantages:

· Iess tinge is needed in attending to the stove while in use because the fuel is inserted in the firebox in an upright position, hence, the firewood automatically goes down as it consumes itself;

· the draft could be tested while the clay is still wet, allowing necessary adjustments in case one commits mistakes in the construction of the stove;

· less material and labour is required; making it possible to construct the stove in about 2 hours;

· fewer cracks are observed;

· it can be made portable.

Aside from these advantages, the newly designed stove drastically reduces fuel consumption by about one-half compared to the open-fire type. Furthermore, the second pothole is used for keeping water or other food hot.

With a chimney and fitted pots, smoke is considerably reduced. Incidentally, the smoke produced from cooking is claimed to be worse than industrial pollution. Considering that the housewives have to cook in their kitchen 2-3 times a day this stove will be very much welcome.

Because of these attributes, residents of Manaoag, Pangasinan, a nearby province, have asked for a training program on the Silkalon and the number of users has increased to about sixty (60).

For more information on the Silkalon, write to Director, Institute of Environmental Science and Management (IESAM), UPLB College, Laguna, Philippines.

Source: IESAM Bulletin ' Vol VII No 2, 1987 Quarterly I´Jewsletter of the Institute of Environmental Science and Management (IESAM), at Los Banos College, Laguna, Philippines.

The Silkalon stove is made from rice hull and clay. An average-sized Silkalon is approximately 70 cm. x 30 cm. x 25 cm. A unique feature of the stove is the vertical-feeding of fuelwood into the firebox and its shape which is more or less guitar-shaped but which could slightly vary depending on the makers' way of moulding the clay into shape. This newly-designed stove is aptly described by one user: "Before, 6 pieces of wood (2 ft. x 3/4 in diameter) are not enough to cook our pot of rice. Now, with the Silkalon, 3 pieces of the same size of wood are more than enough to cook the same pot of rice. On top of this, is the hot water in the second pothole for my coffee."

In contrast to the Lorena stove which has to be carved out from a dried block of clay, the Silkalon is fashioned out by adding clay and moulding one at a time, every stove component by hand while the clay is still wet. Clay is then added to one end of the layer of clay that has been laid out with a provision for an opening that enables the upright insertion of fuelwood. The opening or firebox entrance is about 8 cm. in diameter and a 400g. uncovered powdered milk can (halved to approx. 4 cm.) is used to reinforce its inside walling and avoid flaking or chipping of its edges.

Chimney. The tunnel rises and ends in a fourth opening, provided for the chimney, at the far end of the stove opposite that of the firebox and next to the potholes. This opening is of the same size as the firebox entrance and uses the same can material to reinforce its inside wall plus a slightly bigger can that serves as the outside walling and the receptacle of the chimney. Empty cans of 400g. powdered milk, the most common and easily available material for chimney construction, are perforated at both ends where wires are woven through to tie a series of cans to an ideal height of 6-10 ft. (4-6 fé. for small stoves; 10-15 ft. for big stoves). The chimney is made to extend 75 cm. above the highest point of the roof, for safety and to prevent down-drafts. A cap is provided to keep rainwater and strong winds out. A chimney made out of tin cans is not so durable as cemented ones. Concrete chimneys may be constructed using a wire mesh and halved tin cans to serve as moolds.

Curing and Smoothing. The stove is cured by letting it dry under shade for 2 weeks or more depending on the conditions that hasten or slow down the drying process.

Firing. Although this process can be omitted as long as the stove has been completely dried and protected from water spills, firing is highly recommended in cases where it it is possible to do so. Some potters make use of kilns while others simply fire in an open bonfire using dried leaves (mostly of bamboo) and rice straw as fuel.

A survey conducted in some parts of Northern Luzon, Philippines, showed that it is mainly for reasons of convenience - comfort from smoke and heat, safety from open fires, ease in cleaning of pots and tending of the stove - that women generally give importance to their Silkalon. Aside from these benefits, the production of a unit of Silkalon almost costs nothing since it makes use of local materials such as rice hull and clay which abound in rural areas. Owing to its simplicity, a Silkalon can easily be constructed in about 2 hours by anybody provided he has the enthusiasm and proper motivation. Guidance though is sometimes necessary to assure good quality stoves.

A one-year training program on Silkalan construction was implemented by AGTALON (1988-1989) with assistance from Caritas Neerlandica to further popularize this fuel-saving claystove in support to other community-based development pursuits. This endeavor went beyond numerical results to realise goals that were contributory to rural development intentions, as was desired. For one, the Silkalon has become a tool in the consolidation of farmers' and health workers' organizations while giving organising work a chance to expand through Silkalon trainings as a 'process' activity. In a community-based health development program's training course for prospective community health workers, the Silkalon has been integrated as part of a skills training in relation to its campaign for health and sanitation. The same is true with a religious congregation that undertakes health missions to enhance hygienic practices in communities where potable water is absent.

The Silkalon and the issues making it relevant to the times, have always drawn the attention and interest of the village people. This provided the motivation for a womens' group and a number of farmers' organizations to use the Silkalon technology as an entry point in villages where organising work is just starting or as a catalyst in activating the life of an organization. Even the potential of Silkalon to generate employment and income in the rural setting has been manifested as some trainees have become Silkalon makers for a fee of $7-$8 per unit, upon order/request. This, however, has not deterred those without financial means from constructing one of their own. Hence, in view of the rate that Silkalon is being adopted, there is a pressing need to follow-up on training in order to ascertain good quality and functional Silkalon stoves in rural households. However, with AGTALON'S limited resources, this has not been possible.

With this limitation in mind, AGTALON trained a group of commercial potters to construct Silkalons as a way of encouraging the fast dissemination of good quality Silkalon stoves. Such an approach also permits mass production of stoves that further benefit from the firing process that goes with traditional potmaking. As one potter relates ,'The moment I first set my eyes on the Silkalon at work, I knew I had to abandon my old stove".

"Boiling Point is a very timely publication that has provided us with enriching information and local experiences on stove work which we cannot avail of elsewhere. We highly appreciate your wo'* and wishing you all the best" pickle Caracia-Padilla AGTALON.