I'm considering building a wood stove out of a 55 gallon barrel with a non-standard pipe design, where the stove pipe enters through the front of the barrel and runs along the top to the back. On the front, there's still a vertical section to get the smoke away from the operator's face and to create a draft.

barrel stove design

I'm looking for some opinions on whether this design is reasonable and can be expected to work, or suggestions for a different design that accomplishes the same goal better.

Context: This is for a temporary outdoor tent sauna. The idea is to stick the back of the barrel into a tent-like enclosure (with a metal sheet "wall" around the barrel), pile up rocks on it, and splash some water. Having the pipe come out of the front avoids running it through the tent, eliminating the need to create an additional opening for the pipe and ensuring that no combustion products leak into the tent.

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    Getting a horizontal pipe to draw properly is going to be a challenge. Why not just have the stove through your wall as described but put the front in the sauna and the back outside with standard vertical pipe that works properly. Or like every other sauna, just put the whole stove in the sauna and one hole in the roof ? Every sauna i have been in has had no problem with the combustion chamber inside it. There is a long history of stove pipe going though tent roofs. Why make it harder then it needs to be ? Having to watch you head around a hot pipe when feeding the stove is not fun.
    – Alaska Man
    May 11 '20 at 17:33
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    No reason to have any horizontal run. If you stick with your design so far as barrel and sauna go, just mount a 90-degree curved section to the end of the barrel and use a couple stovepipe support legs (bond to bottom of barrel end, perhaps) to hold up the vertical section. May 11 '20 at 18:59
  • @AlaskaMan The tent is going to be fairly crowded, including kids. I think Having to bring firewood inside and feeding the stove is going to be both a hassle and a hazard. I would rather have a standard stove pipe rising vertically inside the tent, thought it does create the additional task of setting up a heat-proof opening in the tent roof. I don't think the pipe would bother the operator though, I drew it sticking out for clarity but it would be flush with the barrel face, so just a 6'' protrusion.
    – Egor
    May 11 '20 at 19:32
  • @CarlWitthoft I'm sorry, I don't really understand your suggestion. It sounds like you are suggesting to just do a regular barrel stove, where the stove pipe is mounted to the opposite side of the barrel than the hole for feeding it. I could certainly do that, but that means the stove pipe ends up inside the tent, which is what I'm trying to avoid with this design.
    – Egor
    May 11 '20 at 19:41
  • @Egor Guess I don't understand your drawing - where is the tent? All I meant was to leave the vertical right where it is, but no reason for the long internal section May 12 '20 at 15:41

At my last home one of the fireplace stove inserts had at least a dozen horizontal pipes that also had rock wool on top to baffle the heat going up, the hot air was injected low in the fire box to increase the efficiency it kind of sucked getting it started because of the baffle. Once it started the heat took all the smoke up and out. the baffle was part of what made the stove meet Oregon’s efficiency standards so it can work and although tough to start it may work better for your plan on heating rocks stacked around the back of the drum.

  • Ah, that sounds a lot like traditional masonry heaters, like the type that were very common in rural Russia. Yeah, I've heard they are hard to get going when cold, because you need a decent amount of draft force to start pulling the fumes through the chimney.
    – Egor
    May 12 '20 at 18:32

I think your design will work fine.

The horizontal pipe does not contribute to the draw. Like any baffle, it slows down the draft a little.

All the draft will be created by the vertical pipe. You may want to make it taller than usual to overcome the drag of the baffle.

Running the horizontal pipe outside the barrel would not contribute to the draw. In theory it would reduce the draw because the vertical pipe would be working with cooler gas.

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