Almost Free Wood Burning Furnace and Hot Water Heater

Editor’s Note: Resourcefulness and creativity are admirable trates of self reliant preppers. The following article demonstrates that. It describes how you can make a wood burning furnace and hot water heater inexpensively. It comes courtesy of Drillcat. – John


Everyone needs and uses hot water everyday. With the high cost of electricity, propane and gas, this is getting costlier every day. Also for people with remote hunting cabins and prepper bug out retreats, people need a real, simple and easy way to have hot water.

There are hot water furnaces for sale. The problem is the cost of these starts at $7,000.00 and go to over 20k. Geting water hot is not this hard. Here below we have a simple way to get hot water. So simple it seems too simple. Get any old used gas hot water heater. The reason to use a used gas hot water heater is because it already has the smoke chimmy in the middle of it.



Remove all gas jets , etc., from the bottom of it. Then all that is needed is to add the fire box to the bottom, with a small door opening. What we used was an old truck rim for the fire box. (Dayton rim has no center.) Then we measured the top of the rim, measured the bottom of the gas water heater and cut a 1/4″ steel plate washer to fit. Then there’s just the simple step of welding the washer to the waterheater and to the fire box.



You will add some longer pipe on top to help it draw. Now by just keeping the yard clean from fallen limbs, you have hot water. If water is cold, and you start a new fire, it will have water hot enough to take a shower in 12 to 18 minutes. If you add a blower to the fire box you can have water hot in 3 to 5 minutes.



This set up means no more $42.00 propane bottles. No electricity is needed. It will work for out door camps, barns, and prepper bug out retreats. Nothing to break down. Simple. It DOES NEED TO BE OUT DOORS, and have a safe place where a fire can be used.

Places to get materials

  • used gas water heater for free or almost free–junk yard. Any appliance store–they have them everyday when they sell new.
  • Steel washer to fit fire box and hotwater heater–junk yard, steel supply.
  • Used truck rim–junk yard, tire shop, or truck repair shop.

This set up wil make lots of free hot water. You can even insulate it and have water hotter longer. We didnt care because of free wood. No problem to light it when we needed it.

About Drillcat

Drillcat describes himself as a master well driller, water project missionary consultant, hands on drill training instructor, and author of Water Well Drilling Troubleshooting Guide. His book is normally available on, but was unavailable at the time of this writing. Was started by a group of volunteer’s who saw the need to help the average Joe, just the regular guy and regular family who want to pursue their dreams of self reliance. They offer free hands on drilling classes, water well drilling & troubleshooting books, and plain answers to people’s questions.

Over the years Drillcat Volunteer’s have seen many honest hard working families buying remote lots and acreages, but then they’re shocked to find out what an average water well costs. Drillcat offers them options from small used drilling rigs, to parts, plans and even rig rentals. There are many simple solutions. They try to give people options, and let them decide.


Author: DestinySurvival Contributor

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4 thoughts on “Almost Free Wood Burning Furnace and Hot Water Heater”

  1. easy, simple and looks like it will work without a computer. Much better than wood burning furnace for 7k. Thanks for the Drillcat info, there site was good, wish there were more pictures, but I think I can make it.

  2. How do you replace water used when showering?
    When away from remote camp, how do you prevent water in the water system from freezing and bursting pipes and seams?
    It seems like a very doable system for three-season use but when it starts to freeze I think you would have to completely drain the system before leaving it unattended for extended periods of time.

  3. Any one have any thoughts on adapting Rocket stove principles for even better combustion and effiency?

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