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Wood Stove History

Wood Stoves History

From almost the beginning of time wood has heated our dwellings. From an open fire to a modern wood stove. See how this transformation has taken place over time, and how the stoves have improved over time.

Wood heat was not only the main source of heat for our fore fathers, wood fires also were used for cooking, heating water for clothes washing, baths and all the esseentials of life. To accomplish these task there was normally an open fireplace. I am sure most of you have seen pictures of the pioneer housewife with the pot of food dangling on a hook inside the open fireplace.

Benjamin Franklin changed the method with which we heat our homes when he invention of the Franklin stove. The stove was made from cast iron with two swings out doors to resemble the open fireplace. The characteristic of cast iron allows the cast iron to heat up fairly rapidly then radiate the heat into the room much more efficient than the open fireplace. When comparing cast iron to the masonry material used to build the open fireplace, the masonry material usually was located out side the home, and the bricks and stones required a longer period of time to heat up then a lot of the heat was then radiated out to the atmosphere, second with an open fireplace there is no way to control the air, consequently the room air and the fireplace heat was allowed to rush up the chimney, where as the Franklin wood stove had doors with controllable vent that restricted the excess air from escaping up the chimney. Doing a much superior job of heating the home. This stove was the first major improvement of our home heating heat source. Now the fire's combustion air was more controllable producing a more efficient wood stove.

The next generation of Wood Stoves and Wood Inserts became popular as many homes had open fireplaces that were very attractive but very inefficient. These Wood Stoves and Inserts had a fairly good controllable airflow, usually with some sort of restrictive baffling system, allowing approximately 30% efficiency from the wood fuel. For many years these stoves heated the homes and were considered to be a wonderful heat source. Today, these types of stoves are illegal to sell in most states, due to the high particle emissions emitted from the exhaust chimney. As our population has increase, it has become necessary to reduce the particles being emitted from the stoves in the form of smoke. Studies have confirmed that the particles from the stove smoke are not only a nuisance, but also cancerous as the particles will lodge in the lungs of people.

EPA "Environment protection agency" was the catalyst that dictated the newer generation high technology stove. The EPA mandated that all new stoves must emit only very minimal pollutants to the environment. To overcome the health hazard from the pollutants from the smoke, EPA set particle emission standards to which the stove had to meet, similar to the automobile industry, that the manufacturers had to meet in order to legally sell their wood stoves. In the process of eliminating the particles from the smoke, manufactures learned that the simplest way was to eliminate the particles was to design a secondary burn system in the stove, which simply burned more of the gases and particles that are in the smoke. Two major effects happened. One, the particles were burned to such low amount that the stoves were safe for the environment, second, since the smoke was ignited and burned the stove became even more efficient. Now Efficiency levels jumped from the old stoves of approximately 30% to the new high technology stove of approx 60 to 65%. Now the consumer gets more heat into the home with less fuel. Thereby reducing the fuel cost to heat the home.

The new high tech wood stove has seen advantages to the environment and homeowners alike. Once again we can still enjoy the ambiance of the fire, to make our homes warmer and cheerier, as well as helping the environment remain intact for our future generations to follow us.