Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Review

Direct Vent Gas Fireplace Review


Wood Burning Stoves

Wood burning stoves of the past may be the wave of the future again. You'll find something old and something new here with wood burning stoves.

My wood burning stove was made by the Birmingham Stove Company, circa unknown. I have heard it called a "wash heater" because it amounts to half of a full potbelly wood burning stove, with a flat top with two eyes. It was used, among other things, once upon a time as a device to heat wash water for bathing and processing pig meat. Whatever. It would have been a kitchen stove for the poor, I think.

I paid $95 dollars for it. It came with a rusty eye remover which never worked. These days I use a chisel to lift up the eye to toss in larget chunks of wood or hunks of coal.

My wood burning stove in all of its cast iron dullness sits in my "workshop" where I craft many of my articles and websites with my high tech computer. The fireplace gives a warm cheery heating ambiance to my building, and provides a necessary service. I don't write well when I'm shivering.

The really great part about my wood burning stove, is that due to the loose nature of its design, it has a tendency to emit a non-lethal level of carbon monoxide into the room which gives the skin a rosy glow but limits sessions at the computer due to the need to stick one's head out the door for a breath of air once in awhile when one's face falls over into the keyboard.

These days when you go to the new wood burning stoves store you are likely to meet up with the high efficiency EPA wood burning stove. Some come with catalytic combustion, similar to like gizmonic in the family car. The downside is that unlike your car, your wood burning stove catalytic combustion gizmonic requires frequent cleaning and wears out rather quickly.

The non-catalytic wood burning stoves operate by means of insulation and a sort of down draft of air from above to aid the more complete combustion of your fuel. The upside of this type of wood burner is that it not only saves the neighborhood air, but also saves money as your wood burns with more efficiency. The more modern wood burning stove with blower is often the combustion vehicle of choice. Personally, I prefer the old fashioned, CO producing cast iron wood burning stove, because they are more rustic. But that's me. There is something about a stove with blower that doesn't return me to my cave roots.

If your home permits, a small wood stove is a dandy addition and sets your home apart from your next door neighbors. There is something about throwing an axe into a chunk of wood, the nip in the air giving you a nudge. As Franklin said, cut wood warms you twice!

Wood burning stoves often spark relationships. You old smoke thrower becomes a friend. I often say encouraging things to my wood burning stove, like OUCH DANG IT, when linger too long while arranging the next piece of wood, or even worse things when I withdraw a besmudged paw, having brushed against the sooty sides.

The types of wood you must use for your wood burning stove are limited only to your imagination. In the movies, I have seen some folks burning their furniture, but that is inadvisable. For most, good dry hardwood is the perfect choice. The only time pine wood belongs in your baby is when you are lighting it. For this you use kindling, which is old resinous pine from a long ago fallen tree.

Wood stove accessories include a pail for ashes, a small flat shovel to scoop the ashes, a chisel to force off the eyes, and a sharp axe to cut the wood in the first place. I might add that adequate ventilation is also a good thing, especially if you have an ancient wood burning stove like mine.

A wood-burning stove is a wonderful thing to have in your home or in your workshop. It has a long and fun history. You'll enjoy reading about it below, I'm sure!


Wood burning stoves owe a lot to a man by the name of Ben Franklin. He was involved in a lot of things several years ago including helping to birth a nation. However, when he wasn't busy stirring up trouble with the British, he was warming himself in front of his very own invention, the Franklin Wood Burning Stove.

Little know today, the problem with wood burning stoves was that they burned wood. Especially in the more populous east, wood was becoming harder to come by. All of the back yard trees had long ago been cut.

Today, we're used to vast expanses of forest, but back before the American Revolution, the forests had been decimated to feed the wood burning stoves. Some towns had not a reliable supply of wood for a hundred miles!

In those days, the old style fireplace in the best homes stood shoulder high and took multiple four foot chunks of wood. They gobbled down more wood than a paper mill, sending up more heat than a blast furnace through the chimney. The portion of the body not facing the fire could suffer frostbite.

At the time, if one could afford it, there were open grate coal burners from Europe to be had, but most didn't like or trust them.

Coal was not much of an option anyway, because in many parts of America, what little there was of it was very expensive. Much the same as today, unless you live in coal country, many grown people have never seen it outside of a chemistry class.

So the early rich old Americanos sat in front of their monstrous fireplaces with their backs freezing. For the rest, they just froze.

The wood burning stoves Franklin invented, also known then as the "Philadelphia fireplace" was nothing like you might suppose.

From a newspaper story at the turn of the 20th century, we learn some new details about the old-new wood burning stove...

The Philadelphia wood burning stove, a stove without a stovepipe, stood everywhere clear of the wall and connected with the chimney of only through the bottom. It has no legs, but rested flat on the hearth, a portion of which had to be removed to make flues, while a brick wall behind it closed the opening of the original fireplace.

The smoke of the fire, therefore, instead of passing directly into the chimney went along the top of the wood burning stove, then down again and under the floor! The down draught was one unique feature.

Another was that between two passages, at the back of the fire, was the air box, into which fresh air entered from beneath the hearth through a pipe opening to the outdoors.

The air after becoming warmed, passed into the room through holes near the top of the wood burning stove.

There was also a movable front which served as a blower, or, the back damper being shut, converted the fireplace into a closed word burning stove.

In whichever way it was used it allowed the burnt gas from the fire to escape up the chimney only after they had long been in contact with thin plates of metal and had parted with all available heat.

Wood burning stoves employing the down draft method have been trotted out several times over the years. The problem, with them, unfortunately, is that they are neither automatic or overly trustworthy. There are several steps you must make after lighting them off to get them to function correctly. Mess up and your room becomes your flue.

While the wood burning stove has always been the most desirable, when coal became available, it did indeed become the choice of the poor. It was cheap, abundant, and solved the problem of supply.

The problem with a coal fire, though, is that when you add fresh coal to the top, it tends to bank the fire, or dampen it down, which sends most of the juicy fire products up the flue without adding nearly as much warmth to the machine.

One ingenious design foisted on the public at the turn of the last century was a stove that introduced coal from the bottom, thus leaving the hot burning embers forever on the top.

To Franklin's everlasting credit, his most efficient stove design actually burned upside down. The fuel and air was introduced from the top, with the fuel burning from below, with the flames and gases shooting from underneath. The idea was absolutely nothing could escape up the flue unburnt.

As marvelous all of this is, nothing surpasses a nice cheery fire in a wood burning stove.

You can burn coal in some wood burning stoves, if you do it sparingly, but then comes the problem of actually locating some coal to burn. I burn some along, but I have to go nearly 70 miles to get it. Once, where I live was full of nearby coal mines. One town near here may eventually be swallowed up some day as their entire city is riddled with mines underneath.

Coal, these days, is not the answer for wood burning stoves. While other fuels have been introduced, pellets, corn, rolled up newspapers, etc., nothing beats wood in a wood burning stove!

Wood Burning Stoves Thing of Past and Future

Ad for New Fangled non Wood Burning Stoves From 1905

It seems that the old-fashioned wood burning stove or is doomed to be relegated to the scrap heap.

Its place and presenting wonderful improvements over the old methods we ave the tireless cook stoves. The most successful and practical of these is the electric tireless cook stove sold by the Wood 111 & Hulse Electric company of Third and Main streets.

In this stove the initial heat is supplied automatically by electricity, after which the stove does the rest, baking, boiling, roasting, frying, steaming and stewing to suit the taste of the most fastidious. The advantages of the fireless cook stoves are too obvious and too numerous for special mention. Sufficient to say that it does away with all danger, dirt, irritation and inconvenience and makes it possible for the housewife to prepare a meal with far less trouble, time and labor.

The electric fireless cook stove the heat is regulated automatically. The housewife sets a clock attached to the stove and at any minute she sets the heat is shut off. This device enables one using the stove to start it going and then leave it for any length of time with perfect assurance that no matter how long she is absent nothing will be spoiled or burned. So much for the old fashioned wood burning stoves.

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Filed under: Wood Burning Stoves