There are so many lessons in this story:
In one series of tests, the traditional stove took an average of 978 grams of fuel to bring a liter of water to boil, while fuel consumption among the newer models ranged from 479 to 591 grams.
Yet in a simple test of “time to boil” the traditional stove appeared to have a clear advantage over its fancier brethren. A pot of water was brought to a boil in 36 minutes on the traditional stove, while the four “improved” stoves were clustered between 51 minutes and one hour. This is a serious problem for the more efficient stoves. The researchers in the field found anecdotal evidence that Haitian cooks reject stoves if they are slow to boil.
“The traditional stoves are inefficient but cook quickly, because they put out more thermal power,’’ notes Kayje Booker, a UC Berkeley PhD student in Ecosystems Research, who was a member of the field research team. “Even some of the respondents who had tried the more efficient Mirak stoves to save charcoal had gone back to the traditional stove because it cooks quickly.”
More efficient stoves were often also plagued with design problems, such as holes that would become clogged during cooking, diminishing airflow and efficiency. “The traditional stove has the benefit of simplicity,’’ says Booker.
For the pointer I thank Ken Feinstein.