Wood Burning Stoves – A Brief History From The Beginning to Today
A wood burning stove is a variant of a fireplace that is made of metal for the intent of burning wood and other similar biomass products. The history of wood burning stoves dates back to 1642 at a foundry in Lynn, Massachusetts. The first stove was made of cast iron plates. In 1744, a revolutionary patriot by the name Benjamin Franklin took on the original idea to develop his own cast iron stove. His stove out shined the efficiency of previous inventions and is still a commonly used stove to date. In the next two centuries, the concept of a closed firebox with a controllable air intake was the most common design. During this time pot-belly, convoluted Alsatian cylinder pattern stoves emerged.
The Rumford fireplace was constructed around 1796 and it was the pioneer stove to angle the hearth of the fireplace with bricks, and also control the choke of the chimney so as to draw smoke upward faster. By reducing the width of the chimney the updraft was increased, thereby eliminating the feeling of smoke that floated in and around the fire place causing air pollution. In 1900, an American and British spy called Benjamin Thompson invented the first metal wood burning stove that was suitable for use in castle kitchens.
The oil crisis in 1970 saw wood burning stoves adapted for use in the kitchen and the stoves evolved to meet new efficiency standards. In 1988 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued regulations that triggered innovative designs which incorporated long burn times and low air pollution levels. Modern versions of these stoves feature airtight construction which utilizes aluminum, cast iron and steel parts. The stoves also have firebrick linings to prevent heat loss and catalytic converters for burning waste fumes. Modern stoves are mostly rectangular boxes or chambers with a thick door. They contain adjustable grates which can prevent, or allow air flow for controlled burning. These stoves have a chimney at the top. The part of the chimney that links it to the base is wider than its neck to prevent blockage. This design makes the stoves very efficient and more environmental friendly.
There are 3 types of modern stoves that use wood or wood biomass products for fuel which include airtight stoves, pellet stoves and metal box wood stoves. Box wood stoves contain the fire in a metal box and have a loose door designs. They are the cheapest stoves and are not as airtight as the other types. The second type is the airtight wood burning stove. These are an improvement over the box stoves and have a completely closed fire box, and a door that is made from materials that make it totally airtight. These stoves have an automatic or manual method of increasing or reducing airflow to the stove to regulate the heat output of the fire.
The third type is the pellet stove. These stoves burn compressed wood or biomass pellets to provide heat for residential or industrial spaces. Fuel is fed from a storage container into a burn-pot area to create a constant flame that requires minimal or no manual adjustments. Fuel is regulated by an electronic timer and sensor. The first miniaturized pellet stove emerged from Washington State in the 1980’s. These stoves can be either stand alone units or fireplace additions vented into an already existing chimney. They are made from large conductive steel or cast iron pieces with stainless steel to enclose circuitry and exhaust areas. In most states pellet fuel us exempted from sales tax. Wood burning stoves are highly efficient and have very low pollution levels.
The purchase price of most wood burning stoves or pellet stoves will allow the buyer to claim a tax credit on US income tax returns.