Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Wood Stove basic (pt1)

If you decide on a northern climate for your homestead you will be needing a wood stove. Remember you are homesteading on a dime and you just can't run out to the nearest fireplace store and pick up a state of the art wood stove.
Indeed you probably won't need too. In the far north, used wood stoves can be had quite readily. Normally there is nothing wrong with them. they are just being replaced by a fancier model.
In fact I have seen many excellent home made wood stoves made from culvert material, and miscellaneous pieces of old iron welded together.
We as poor homesteaders are not as interested in impressing the neighbors as we are getting the job done after all.
I honestly haven't seen very many poor wood stoves actually. Now if you are heating a several thousand square foot log mansion, then yes you may very well need a state of the art system which requires electric blowers etc. However since we (you and me), are resilient, self reliant homesteaders we know that a smaller cabin is easier to heat than a monstrous one.
I in fact am still heating and cooking on my very first wood stove... The lowly often maligned barrel stove. This stove has functioned very well, for three years now. I purchased the barrel from a local fuel oil company for $15... The barrel kit I bought for $10, used, as it was still bolted to a burned out barrel. So for $25, I had a perfectly functional wood stove. My brother in law made a grate to place inside, to keep the fire off the bottom of the barrel. Made of expanded metal, it was made to fold up, so that it would fit through the stove door. You can place sand and rocks in the bottom as well, however most of my available rocks are river rocks and was aware that they can sometimes explode. So.. I opted for the grate.
On top of the stove is a rack that with fit two stock pots for heating water, as well as my coffee pot.
The benefits of a barrel stove are also it's drawbacks. The same with an iron or cast stove. In the case of the barrel stove, it's lighter material will warm the cabin warm far quicker than a heavier stove. The down side is that it also sheds it heat quickly, letting the cabin cool down faster. With the iron stove it may take hours for the cabin to warm (depending on the size of the cabin, the starting temp inside and the quality of the firewood). However it will hold the heat much longer in it's thicker skin.
It all amounts to what you want. You will never hear me bash my barrel stove. It has kept me warm, heated my water, and cooked my food without fair for three years (going on four).
I believe this will be the last year for my stove. But dividing the $25 into the day's it has been used, I think I got a pretty good bargain.
I do have a nice iron wood stove that I have been wanting to get up to the homestead. Smaller than the barrel stove, it will free up some space. It's flat top will allow the direct contact with the stove and will make heating water and cooking (on top), much more efficient. It's glass door will also allow a handy night light.
Still....
I will miss the practical barrel stove. Carrying the unit up here was much easier than getting a nearly 200lb stove up here. While the iron stove was "free", the barrel stove is generally the most inexpensive way to get started.
My barrel stove allows enough room to have a fire and cook food with room to spare. Setting my 9" dutch oven off to one side, and setting the 6" dutch, on top, cooks food very efficiently.


The picture above shows the basic cooking process. As long as the dutch oven is placed off to the side, there will be more than enough draft to keep the wood going. In fact one of the best things about the barrel stove is it's interior volume. Cooking this way saves me a tremedous amount of propane, which I need for other things, such as canning.
In a northern climate you will be utilizing a wood stove from sometime in september until mid may. And I have often lit fires in mid summer to take the chill off on a rainy day.
If you decided to cook tear round with a wood stove you could simply build a cook house, much like was used in colonial day's to keep the house from getting too hot. In fact I am planning a cook/canning shack if nothing more than to free up room in the cabin.

To be continued...