Why Wood Burning Stoves Are Popular
Wooden stoves are well remembered for being popular in the 19th century. Of course heaters and air conditioners weren’t there during that time. Heat was primarily emitted by these stoves. Hence, wooden stoves became a very popular heating appliance among people of the middle class and upper class. But do not be under the assumption that wooden stoves are useless today. They are still in frequent use by a large group of people.
The basic concept of a wooden stove is that heat is received by burning wood and the other gases released during their combustion would exit through a chimney. Usually wooden stoves were built out of steel or iron. These stoves are chambers where inside the fire is burning. These chambers vary in size. One may find extremely big stove chambers or even small ones. Whatever their size is, they appear extremely heavy, and they were because a lot of iron or steel was used for their construction.
Inside the chambers burns the flame. The flame is of course burned with a flammable item. In the case of wooden stoves, wood was used. Wood burns easily. That’s why wooden stoves were popular. And during the 19th century (long before we realized that global warming existed there might be a point where there may be a lack of trees) wood was abundantly available. It was also the cheapest type of fuel. Thus the wood was brought and burned inside the chamber. When the flame was low, more wood was added to the chamber. The types of wood that were most commonly used were soft wood and hard wood. Both however differed in their availability and rate of burning. Hard wood burned slower than soft wood. But soft wood was found in places coniferous trees were present.
The wood that was used to burn in wooden stoves also depended on the moisture content. Freshly cut wood contains 30-200% moisture. The greater the moisture the slower the wood burns. Hence, there were certain kinds of woods that were never used for Wooden Stoves. Greenwood was one of them. Firewood should always have moisture content less than 20%.
The chimney is the exit path connected to the Wooden Stove. A chimney is necessary because, when wood burns, gases being extremely hot rise up and if there is not separate and isolated path for them, the gases remain in the enclosing where the Wooden Stove is and those present in there may inhale it which is dangerous for their lungs and other parts of the body.
Wooden stoves are still used today. Although I spent a major portion of this essay talking about wooden stoves in the past tense, they are in fact used by many people. This is because there are many benefits of having a wooden stove today. These benefits are both personal and environmental. The first advantage is that wood is economical and ecological. Of course that doesn’t mean that we should be cutting trees for the firewood but not planting others to replace them. They are also one of the best sources of heat, even today with the competition coming from electronic and kerosene heaters.
The main factor for them being preferred is that wood is still one of the cheapest fuels available. Other heaters that run on kerosene, petrol, propane etc are subject to constant price hikes. Hence in such unpredictable situations it is hard use a non-wooden stove. The advantage of using a wooden stove is that there will be no monthly expensive bills being sent to you. If there are trees near your house, you can take wood from there and plant new trees. You are benefitting the animals also. This is the easiest way of saving the environment. Apart from the environmental aspect, the aesthetic aspect is also very relevant with Wooden Stoves. They give an antique and exotic look to your living room. It would be a great add to your house. In cold winters, the Wooden Stove will emit a “homely” and “cozy” feeling to you.
Today, people have been more conscious about the environment. Each and every day, Mother Nature’s health is worsening. Tremendous amounts of pollution is present in the air, land, or sea, and sooner or later or planet as we know, may not be able to support us anymore.
There are various elements that contribute to the degradation of the Earth, one if which are toxic emissions that fill up our atmosphere, even our lungs.
One of the primary contributors to the air pollution would be emissions from fossil fuels such as natural gas (gasoline, diesel, LPG) and these come mainly from automobiles and even gas stoves.
Wood stoves recently have ‘risen from the ashes’ so to speak, mainly because of two reasons, 1.) we are becoming more and more aware of the potential hazards of natural gas, and the current condition of our planet, and 2.) we desire to have independent and efficient sources for energy that are highly cost efficient.
Wood stoves are the best alternative cooking means from gas stoves and a more efficient heat source rather than radiator heaters or traditional fireplaces – they’re highly energy efficient, and does not emit toxic emissions harmful to the environment.
Below are 2 most popular kinds of wood burning stoves available today, the cast iron stove and soapstone stove.
The first cast iron stove was invented by famous American inventor Benjamin Franklin in 1742. It was dubbed the “Franklin stove” and was soon a vital part of every American home. Cast iron stoves burned wood and provided heat more efficiently than traditional fireplaces made of brick. Not only was it efficient, it was safer in a way that there are no open flames that could possibly come in contact with people. Also referred to as a ‘box stove’, it is relatively more compact so it can be placed anywhere inside a room, ideally at the center of a room for a more efficient radiant heat will circulate the room. It can also be used outdoors.
Soon enough these cast iron stoves evolved, later models included chimney vents (which is the typical depiction of cast iron stoves in television – big fiery black iron stove with a hovering chimney), and some more expensive models now feature intricate scrollwork and other patterns which was particularly made for the affluent.
Cast iron stoves ever since have not only been a simple machine for generating heat, it was a form of art as well. Many antique cast irons that are still around today are still producing the same heat they were producing back when they were first lit up.
Nowadays, steel stoves are also available as a much cheaper alternative to cast iron. They actually do not differ in material because steel is an iron alloy, so when it comes to heat retention and resistance, they offer the same results. The difference between cast iron and steel is that cast iron are poured and molded (“cast”), while steel is produced by being rolled into sheets. Cast irons would also require higher maintenance because the iron is sealed together by only bolts and caulk, while steel is welded. Cast iron stoves, hands down, are more decorative than steel stoves.
FOUR BEST CAST IRON WOOD BURNING STOVES
Cast Iron: Hearthstone
Hearthstone would not be left out in utilizing the superb quality and endurance cast iron is known for. Every Hearthstone cast iron wood burning stove is fabricated from quality gray cast iron and made in the most modern molding facility that ensures consistent quality with every stove that comes to every American home.
The Hearthstone Hergom collection features an extensive line of cast iron stoves that are all elegant and timeless, efficient and economic.
The Hearthstone Craftsbury Wood Burning Stove would easily be one of my favorites simply because of its brown enamel finish that makes this cast iron stove look like it is made from wood (imagine a wood burning stove that is made from wood). Its over-sized viewing window provides an exceptional view of the flickering flames, and the air that comes from the stove’s secondary air tubes ignite the gases that emit from burning wood not only burns the wood more efficiently, but displays quite a dazzling show of fire. The Craftsbury stove is relatively small, and can fit any bedroom, living room, outdoor patio, or mobile home. It can effectively heat up a 1300 sq ft room for 6-7 hours. It also burns wood efficiently at 81%, higher than any small wood burning stove today.
Cast Iron: Jotul
A company that has been manufacturing cast iron wood stoves in Norway since 1853, Jotul has been a brand that remained trusted by many through generations because of the passion for warmth, and an atmosphere of peace and harmony that every Jotul cast iron stove share with every place it calls home.
Jotul’s most popular and most imitated cast iron stove, the Jotul F 118 CB Black Bear, looks as classic as a wood stove can ever get in these modern times.
Heavy cast iron painted in a matte black finish makes this wood burning stove look like the stoves Benjamin Franklin. Its cast iron door is strewn with cast iron grills to add to its classic look. Putting the cherry on top of the proverbial cake is the cast verse from Havamal (a gnomic collection of poems that date back to the age of Vikings) on the front plate for a more historical and sophisticated touch. It burns efficiently because of Jotul’s patented clean burn technology and burns wood for a long time too.
Not only is Jotul famous for classic intricate cast iron stoves, but also for sleek modern cast iron stoves that transcends beyond tradition. A more modern take on the highly classical cast iron wood stove is the Jotul F 373. featuring glass window on 3 sides sides for perfect viewing. Modern and minimalist, looks kind of like a public telephone – a very elegant and warm public telephone. Humor aside, it certainly is one of my favorite wood burning stoves because of its sheer beauty in simplicity.
Cast Iron: Napoleon
Napoleon stoves are the leading stoves in Canada since its inception in 1981. A relatively young steel company, Wolf Steel, embarked on making the most effective and advanced, yet classic, wood burning stoves. Napoleon was the first cast iron stove to include a single glass door with Pyroceram high temperature ceramic glass, that can withstand heat for up to 1000°C.
My favorite among the classic wood burning stoves by Napoleon would be the 1400 Pedestal Wood Burning Stove. One of the most elegant looking wood stoves in the market, it is mounted in a pedestal for optimal view and ingenuity. The pedestal conceals an air inlet for a more efficient combustion thus more efficient heat. Its large beautifully arched windowed door does not leave any part of the calming flame be left unseen. With a touch of [unnecessary] gleam and glamor, the porcelain glass windowed door is accentuated by 24 karat gold (yes, real gold for a stove door!).
With only a capacity of 2.23 cu. ft. of wood, it efficiently burns wood and heats up any room with a size up to 2000 sq ft. This elegant little stove can burn bright for up to 9 hours, and is available in a classy porcelain almond enamel finish.
Cast Iron: Morso & Morso 3450
Creating energy efficient and eco-friendly stoves in Denmark since 1853. All of Morso’s cast iron stoves are made from 100% recycled material, which is really great. Morso features both classic and modern wood burning stoves that does not come up short from class and functionality. Morso claims that you won’t just love their wood burning stoves simply by its beauty, efficiency, or environmental consciousness; you’ll grow fond of your stove as your companion whom you share comfort, peace, and harmony with.
Morso 3450 is one of those stoves that is a hybrid between soapstone and cast iron stoves. Combining the efficiency and aesthetics of soapstone and cast iron, the Morso 3450 guarantees the warmest and coziest nights. Its unique combustion system that circulates well-balanced air ensures clean burning wood. This unique air circulation also keeps its large viewing window clean all the time for an undisturbed view of the graceful flames.
The cast iron stove is mounted on soapstone side panels to ensure efficient and soft radiant heat will fill your living room. Soapstone has been renowned for being able to retain heat for a long time even with the flame not burning. The stove can fit logs up to 15” and can effectively heat up a 1200 sq ft room.
Soapstone, also known as stealite or soaprock, is the most commonly used and most popular natural stone in manufacturing wood burning stoves. Soapstone is primarily composed of talc, which is the softest material according to the Mohs hardness scale (more commonly used as baby powder). Talc is what makes the stone’s soft and soapy texture, hence the name ‘soapstone’. Soapstone is unbelievably heat resistant like hard natural stones like granite and marble, but it shines above the two because soapstone is the best material that can withstand direct flames for even prolonged periods of time.
Soapstone is an efficient material for wood stoves because it has the ability to absorb and distribute the heat within the confines of the stove, and radiate the heat onto a room evenly. Soapstone stoves are also relatively cheap to produce too. It is ideal for home use because soapstone stoves can remain warm for hours – which mean there is no need to tend to the flames every time it dies out, especially on winter nights.
It can retain the heat of charcoals and continue to radiate warmth across the room. We can safely say that soapstone stoves are highly efficient in heat retention and would potentially save you more money and resources.
Also, unlike cast iron stoves, soapstone stove radiate a somewhat ‘soft’ warmth instead of a uncomfortably direct blast from iron stoves when in close proximity. You and your family can sit around your soapstone stove for hours and enjoy the warm presence of the flame, and the warm company of your loved ones.
Soapstone stoves are also valued because of their aesthetic properties. Like every beautiful natural stone like granite, marble, sandstone, or travertine; soapstone features natural veining patterns, and the colors of the stone can eventually change over time, giving a more aged and classical look.
THREE BEST SOAPSTONE WOOD BURNING STOVES
The Hearthstone Select Collection features an extensive line of beautifully carved and finished soapstone stoves. Soapstone stoves by Hearthstone are renowned for being very elegant, framed with intricately lain woodwork.
Hearthstone soapstone stoves are not only known for aesthetics, but also with the quality and quantity of soapstone they use on a single stove.
Soapstone is known to be one of the most efficient natural stones when it comes to heat resistance, dispersion, and retention. Hearthstone makes sure that the soapstone’s thermal mass is ideal for what they call HeatLife – or the duration of each Hearthstone stove to efficiently retain and disperse heat.
Keeping in with the classic look of the Hearthstone stoves, the Equinox does not disappoint. Created to accommodate the biggest of spaces, it can efficiently heat up a room up to 3,500 sq ft. – ideal for big living rooms or vacation cabins. Remarkably, this warm treasure chest has a burning life up to 12 hours and can retain and radiate heat for up to 4 hours more (16). It features a 4.0 cubic foot firebox that is able to accommodate wood for up to 25”.
Its unique air tube structure keeps the fire burning, and let’s you enjoy the spectacular firework display through a clear glass window, or through an optional screen for open door viewing.
Another leading company in making the most efficient soapstone wood burning stoves is Woodstock. Woodstock is proud to tell everyone that each and every Woodstock soapstone stove is hand crafted by expertly skilled craftsmen and women one at a time in New Hampshire. Every piece is handled with care and lain with detail. Not only do you feel the radiating warmth from every Woodstock soapstone stove, you can almost feel everyone’s warmth in creating your stove.
Woodstock also offers what they claim to be the best guarantee in the home stove industry – a 6 month in-home trial. If you feel not satisfied with the performance of your soapstone stove, you can freely return it to the company and get your full money back – includes free shipping too!
The Woodstock Classic Wood Stove does not cut short on the quality and quantity of polished gray soapstone. The Classic Wood Stove has a blank facade where only the beautiful veining of the soapstone and intricate carved wood casting face you. Its double soapstone walls provide excellent thermal mass and lets this stove burn for up to 10-12 hours and heat up a 1600 sq ft room.
Not fancying a windowless wood stove? You can have the same efficiency and warmth with the Fireview Wood Stove which includes a beautifully arched window for viewing.
Vermont wood stoves have already been in the scene for years, and along its long history, they have provided one of the most trusted wood stoves -even famous author Mark Twain (author of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer), had been one of the many people who was satisfied with the warmth of Vermont soapstone wood burning stoves.
The Vermont Soapstone stoves combine the toughness and endurance of both soapstone and cast iron. The main chamber for fire is made entirely of cast iron, for maximum heat generation.
The cast iron chamber is then enveloped in a thick casing of beautifully carved soapstone.
My personal favorite among the Vermont soapstone products is the Vermont Bun Baker 1500. yes, not only is it a home heater, it is an oven as well! It features two chambers with glass windowed cast iron doors, a lower chamber as an oven, and the upper chamber as the primary furnace. It has a thick 2 3/8” inch soapstone that efficiently keeps the fire burning and at the same time keeps a room as large as 1,000 sq ft nice and toasty. The Vermont Bun Baker also features a nice space underneath the oven to keep your wood at immediate vicinity and clutter-free.
The Best Outdoor Wood Burning Stoves
Outdoor Wood Stoves are different from indoor wood stoves. First of all they are not connected a chimney as indoor stove would’ve been. The reason for this is because the gases released are released in the air. Outdoor Wood Stoves are huge stoves. They are usually encased with bricks or stone. They have to be big because they need to emit heat outdoors where the cold is there. Thus power is essential for an outdoor wood stove.
Here are the top Outdoor Wooden Stoves:
- Mirage Stone Outdoor Wood Burning Fire Place:
Yes it is made of stone, but it is easy to construct. The stone is a special kind where it can be dissociated with cement. The fireplace features a see through fire burning system, where people can enjoy watching the flames through the see-through opening. It has a small chimney-like tube built on top of the stove to direct the hot gases upwards to the atmosphere and not towards the people sitting by it. Along with wood, it gives the option of burning other things too like charcoal and propane gas.
- Landmann Haywood Fireplace:
The Landmann is an impressive stove which comes at a very reasonable price. It contains a see-through metal net so that flames can be viewed by the people sitting by it. It is incredibly light, and can be carried around everywhere for different reasons like camps, bonfires or night time get together. It is completely made of steel and is very durable, not at all vulnerable to any risks. The company has even included a poker to move the wood around.
- Kay Home Products Bayside Wood Burning Outdoor fireplace:
This 100 dollars stove is an excellent pick for those who want to spend just some time outside in a cozy manner. It lacks the tremendous power that other outdoor wood stoves have, but it is still good enough to emit heat for a considerable amount of time. It is built out of complete steel and the wire screen gives a 360 degree view of the flames. Both real and artificial logs can be used for the Kay Home stove.
- Burlington HDQ-12 LP Fireplace:
The Burlington looks beautiful. There is no doubt that it would fit perfectly in your backyard or patio. It is a 2 way outdoor fireplace. It has electronic ignition and an adjustable knob. It can release a maximum heat of 35,000 BTU. It is built out of a special type of stone (not real). These stones are reinforced with non-toxic materials. It even uses propane as another type of fuel for burning. It is a great fireplace for friends and family to gather over and enjoy a cozy and warm time together. The fireplace can go one for a lot of hours without extinguishing.
- Monessen ODWR400:
This is a giant wood stove. It is also a beautiful wooden stove. The best part of this stove is that it is made of materials that are easy to use. The outline of the fireplace is made of fine stainless steel that increases its beauty. The Monessen adds sophistication and elegance to your backyard. Its huge frame allows it to burn lots of wood and release lots of heat thus not allowing people at all to complain about the cold. It is a traditional wood burning stove. It has a built in flue damper. It has a stainless steel basket grate and a mesh fire screen. For the combustible gases that are released, it has a gas line knockout and a 8” SK Chimney. It even features optional glass doors and a curtain screen.
- CobraCo FB6540 Round Bravo Fire Pit:
This round structure is a very interesting concept wooden stove. It is almost like a round table, except with flames coming out. It has a classic black finish with a temperature paint. A sturdy steel based construction. A 9” base for very deep fires and vinyl cover for protecting the fire pit or else the rains might damage them. It is extremely light and can be carried around. It is great for sitting by with other family members. It can use wood as well as artificial logs as the main fuel.