wood burning stove

8 Wood Burning Stove Ideas

Originally contributed by Mackenzie Stratton • last updated 4/5/2021

So, you want a wood burning stove? Perhaps you like their classic appeal, their effectiveness and efficiency, or maybe you’re drawn to taking one on the road.

Regardless, there are enough wood burning stove ideas to accommodate a variety of needs and preferences.

This guide will explain some of the styles available, their advantages and disadvantages, as well as some general factors you should consider during the purchasing process. 

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What To Consider For An Indoor Wood Burning Stove

In the current era, purchasing and maintaining a wood burning stove is a choice, not a necessity. As a result, the knowledge it takes to safely use and enjoy one isn’t so common. To remedy this, here are a few tips.

First, know that a “wood burning stove” is actually a bit of a misnomer. Many wood stoves can actually burn multiple types of fuel, including coal and smokeless fuel.

Never burn coal and wood together because sulphuric acid may be created, which can damage your stove.

Second, it’s important to ensure that combustible materials are a safe distance from your stove. Don't go installing one on top of carpet, for example.

Third, you’ll absolutely want to choose a stove that’s efficient. Not only because it implies less work and more money saved, but because it will have a lower environmental impact as well. Look for an EPA listed efficiency of at least 75%.

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Small Wood Burning Stoves

If you have several heating systems or are looking to heat a limited amount of space, consider a small wood burning stove.

It’s important to define what is a small space is, though. To put it in perspective, the average wood burning stove emits about 5-8kW, whereas a small one will emit about 4-5kW.

This can typically service a room that about 150-200 square feet.

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Cast Iron Wood Burning Stoves

The average HVAC system lasts anywhere from 15-25 years whereas a cast iron wood burning stove can prove to be a one-time investment, since they last pretty much forever.

They come in a wide range of shapes and styles, since manufacturers pour the cast iron into a mold. That said, their longevity and aesthetic benefits do come with drawbacks.

Generally, they are more expensive than wood burning stoves made from steel, and they will take longer to heat up. Though the longer it takes to heat up, the longer it remains hot so if you’re looking to heat a room overnight, cast iron may be your best bet. 

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Soapstone Wood Burning Stoves

Apart from steel and cast iron, soapstone is a common material used to make wood burning stoves.

It has a few distinct advantages over both steel and cast iron, including greater durability and a unique aesthetic. What’s more, it can maintain both a stable and long-lasting heat, even in the face of wild temperature fluctuations.

Though as you may have predicted, you will likely pay more for a soapstone stove — a price some people find worth it for the minimal maintenance and long lifespans.

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Antique Wood Burning Stoves

There is not one but many different categories of antique wood burning stoves. And just as with any functional antique, quality can range greatly.

First, it’s helpful to do your homework before purchasing, by familiarizing yourself with what brands and styles were available in ye olden times.

A few examples of styles include:

  • Franklin
  • potbelly
  • isinglass
  • Victorian
  • etc.

For brands, you'll see names like Charter Oak Stove Company, Queen Atlantic, and Barstow.

Second, you’ll want to ensure that the antique stove you’re considering is either completely intact or that its parts are still being manufactured.

Finally, unless you’re an aficionado on the subject, it’s likely safest to have a professional install your antique stove.

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Modern Wood Burning Stove Options

A modern wood burning stove implies not just its silhouette and style, but also its technology. Since 1988, the EPA got involved in issues like particulate emissions and efficiency.

Today, many wood burning stoves are nearly carbon neutral, so despite their old-fashioned charm, they can be quite hi-tech.

One key value you’ll want to look for is the number of grams of smoke per hour (g/h) that your wood stove emits. The maximum for newly produced models is 2 g/h, but they can get as low as 1 g/h.

Another important value to consider is efficiency, which should be at least 70% but of course, the higher the better. 

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Finding A Used Wood Burning Stove

Purchasing a used wood burning stove is typically more affordable and a great option for those who aren’t necessarily committed to the long term investment.

But there’s no free lunch and in this case, the price comes in the form of added time spent on research to ensure a wise decision is made.

First, as we learned prior, models built before 1988 may not be efficient and may even be illegal to install in your area.

Also, learning how to properly inspect your wood burning stove for signs of wear and tear will help you cut through the bad deals and find the real deal. 

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Portable Wood Burning Stoves

If you’re a camper or a glamper, consider a portable wood burning stove. You can look into a bevy of varieties — from simple, ultra-lightweight options to those that can serve the needs of a family or small group.

Of course, one major advantage to purchasing a wood burning stove is that you don’t have to weigh-down your pack with fuel and instead can use found materials like twigs, leaves, moss, and pinecones.

Further, portable wood burning stoves can typically be used for both cooking and warmth. 

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