The wood burning stove is not an invention of modern days; its origin goes back to the 17th century when it was first introduced to replace the traditional fireplace. Of course, the design and features have been changed over the time but the main purpose and working is more or less the same as it was during that period.
Wood burning stoves quickly became popular because of their effectiveness in comparison with fireplaces. Initially they were placed against the opening of the fireplace so that the chimney could be used for the fumes to escape. At that time they were made of a metal box and they had the power to heat the room thoroughly. However, after some time they were modified into a model with its own chimney and flue. This enabled customers to place it anywhere in the house without relying upon the position of the fireplace.
Let’s skip through the leaves of history and see how they evolved into the perfect and stylish wood burning stove of today:
The first wood burning stove was made in Massachusetts, USA in the year 1642. However, Benjamin Franklin was the first person who invented an improved model made of cast iron in 1744. He then launched it commercially and branded it ‘The Franklin Stove’. The stove was open fronted and similar in looks to a brick fireplace, but it produced more heat and less smoke. The best part was its economical fuel consumption and the ability to make the air circulate in the whole room. The flue which was initially present on the floor of the stove was installed next to the chimney in ‘The Franklin Stove’.
The stoves we see today are merely a more stylish and efficient form of the Franklin stove and therefore Franklin should be given the major credit for inventing and marketing the existing wood stoves.
After Franklin, the Rumford fireplace was constructed by Count Rumford in 1796. He further enhanced the angle of the hearth and choke of chimney to draw more smoke into the chimney.
Generally this appliance is made of solid metal like cast iron or steel, a closed fire chamber, a fire brick base and adjustable grates to control the amount of air in circulation and therefore, control burning. It is joined with ventilating stove pipes to a suitable chimney or flue which will be filled with hot combustion gases once the fuel is ignited. It is designed in a way that the chimney or flue gases are hotter than the outside temperature to ensure combustion gases are drawn out of the fire chamber and go up the chimney. Many have an additional feature of multi fuel option with the addition of a grate.
The main advancement in the manufacturing industry of wood burning stoves took place when metal drawers and ovens were added to them. This modification had converted a simple heating stove into a whole new cooking range. From the early 20th century, its appearance also changed; it became a freestanding stove with four legs from a metal standing stove. They were soft but smart in their working, as they were portable and used for cooking purposes as well.
Major Complications Associated With the Wood Burning Stoves
During the 1970s, a major breakthrough happened in the stove industry when the world suffered the oil crisis. People went back to substitute energy sources and suddenly everybody was looking for a wood burning stove. This eventually led to a boom in the industry but eventually a few major drawbacks of this product were also discovered. Three major disadvantages were:
- The excessive use of wood, which is also a scarce resource and more and more people were showing concerns over forest cutting raids.
- The second side effect was the air pollution that was produced by these stoves. The gases produced polluted the air at a very fast rate.
- The third effect was quite dangerous in nature. These stoves were a major fire hazard to households if not handled properly. Householders reduced the air intake of the wood burner once the fire was burning well, so that the stove would burn for longer periods and produce a more even heat distribution. This leaves the problem of unburned resins escaping up the flue which form creosote inside the stove-pipe on cooling. This could cause a hot fire throughout the stove-pipe as the creosote would ignite once a certain temperature was reached.
The Present Day
Thanks to the modern technology, today’s wood burning stoves have addressed all the above concerns. Modern wood burning stoves have a fire brick lining, are constructed of steel and aluminum and are airtight. The gas that is produced is just carbon dioxide which is good for growing trees. Nowadays many people find this wood stove a very trendy and useful product to have at home. A wide variety of stoves are available in different colors and styles.