"We wanted it made out of local materials, biodegradable materials, so if anything happened to the stove or if someone abandoned it, the materials would just go back to nature," she said.
The stoves typically cost between $40 and $45 to make, including labor and materials, Hughes said, and they sell for $50-$60 depending on the factory site and their specific costs.
Orlando Flores Perez received a free Ecocina as part of a community grant in El Salvador. His daughter Mariella suffered from asthma so severe she was hospitalized often twice a week, but the Ecocina changed that.
Now, Mariella needs far fewer trips to the hospital and the entire family breathes easier.
"Mariella's health has improved dramatically since we've had the stove," Perez said. "The new stove has helped improve her health and the health of our family."
Hughes is not paid for her work, and occasionally she dips into her own her savings to contribute to the project. It's her passion -- or as she calls it, her obsession.
"If anyone told me I'd be doing all this at this age, I wouldn't have believed them," Hughes said.
But Hughes -- who plans to open new factories in Colombia and Mexico in the next year -- intends to spend the rest of her life doing this work. With 3 billion people, mostly women and children, facing health risks from open fires or leaky cookstoves every day, Hughes says there are just too many who need help.
"The best part of doing it is seeing the people who benefit," Hughes said. "Anybody can do this. You just have to have a purpose and a passion."