Wood burning stoves the comparison between steel and cast iron. Steel stoves heat up quick and start giving off heat right away. When the fire in the steel stove cools down so does the stove. A cast iron wood stove can take a couple hours to heat up, but when the fire dies down the cast iron will radiate out heat for hours. When comparable sized stoves are heated and operating both generate comparable heat into your home. What we will look at is the time it takes a wood stove to heat up and the time it takes to cool down.
If you plan to purchase a wood stove and burn it 24-7 late fall till early spring either stove will heat the same. Where the heat up and cool down times play into the comparison is the home owner who burns a wood stove just a few times a week and wants to heat up a cold home quickly. Many people have cabins or cottages that the sole source of heat is a wood stove. When entering a cold cabin in the dead of winter you want heat right away versa waiting for it to heat up.
Cast iron stoves have more features like upper air controls that allow you to add more or less air into the catalytic chamber for more combustion. Lower air controls are for the fire box. Most steel stoves only have lower air controls for the fire box.
Most cast iron stoves have ash drawers. The bottom of the fire box is either a cast grate with slots for the ash to fall into the clean-out drawer or some have shaker grates. Shaker grates are controlled from the side of the stove with a special wrench type tool. Steel stoves are lined with firebrick. Most steel stoves do not have ash drawers. Ashes are removed with a shovel. As stated above steel stoves are lined with firebrick this is to help the stove hold heat. Firebrick is easily broken when logs are tossed in and and from normal wear of heating and cooling. Firebricks can be replaced.
While steel stoves are welded together, cast iron stoves are held together with furnace cement. Heating the stove under normal circumstances the expanding and contracting will cause the seams to crack. After a few years of burning the cast iron stove should be broke down and all the seams re-cemented.
Both steel and cast iron stoves have gaskets around the door and glass. The rope gaskets should be replaced annually. This is small maintenance and it keeps the stove airtight.
Cast iron stoves are available in decorator porcelain enamel colors. A word of caution the colors will darken over time after the stove is heated. If the wood stove is overheated the finish can crack. It is similar to crazing that appears on your diner plates and other ceramic pieces. If there is water on the stove clean it ASAP. If the stove is hot do not spill water on it. The enamel finish will stain and the water marks are noticeable.
A wood burning stove is a great source of heat. Wood stoves last for 15 plus years and are inexpensive to operate. Whichever wood stove you choose enjoy it!