Our friend, Eric, lives off grid. He works hard and enjoys a solar shower every evening. But now it’s getting colder and the sun isn’t out as much and the water barely gets lukewarm. So Will helped him make a wood-fired water heater so he can quickly heat up enough water for a nice long…and hot…shower.

Will made this from a gas hot water tank he got from the dump. He cut the top off then cut a section out of the middle. Then he cut about 12 inches off the middle section and welded it to the bottom of the tank, making the firebox. Onto the bottom of the firebox, he welded a flat, circular piece of scrap steel. He then cut an access door into the firebox. The piece that was cut out became the door and Will welded a pair of hinges (from the dump) onto the tank and door and the heater was finished except for the bolt Will welded on for a firebox door handle.

Because this was a GAS water heater tank, there was already a chimney/vent in place, which he left in place to draw the smoke from the firebox up through the water and tank.

Eric intends to place the heater on an elevated platform and plumb it into his shower, indoors. If he had a pressurized water system, he could bring the heater back and Will would weld the top of the tank back on. As it is, he will pour cold water into the top of the tank, start a wood fire in the firebox and soon he’ll have a hot shower after a long day’s work.

A shower for free, made from discarded “junk.” We love it!


  1. I wish my husband was more inclined to be more self-sufficient. I found an artical on heating and cooking with methane gas, blue barrels and trator inner tubes. He just looks at me and shakes his head. You are all right Will.

  2. Wayne,

    Before Will ever cut the top off the water heater, he told Eric about the necessity of adding a pressure relief valve. YES, any enclosed water heater must have one!


  3. I love this! I am going to have my husband read this one and get started on one for us. We are a large family and 5-6 showers a day is getting expensive. Thank You for all your helpful projects.

  4. If a top is ever welded on the tank, please make sure he adds a temperature and pressure relief valve or that thing will be a time bomb.

  5. I love the stories you share of homesteaders sharing their skills to help one another. Everyone knows so much, but if a person doesn’t know everything – well, that’s ok, because someone in the community does and is willing to help. I hope that our future home (we are slowly transitioning) has as many wonderful people around it as you have found. We are certainly planning to do our part!

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