How To Recycle and Bake With a Wood-Burning Cook Stove

An experienced homesteader describes how to assess the viability of a used wood burning cook stove and manage its heat for baking.

| November/December 1974

So you've finally moved to your homestead and have acquired that indispensable item which was Great-Grandmother's pride and joy: a wood burning cook stove. Unless you grew up in a very rural area and have used such a device before, you'll probably approach cooking on it—and especially baking—with trepidation.

Well, relax. There's no mystery involved, only common sense. True, you won't find any magic dial that brings the oven to exactly 375° F and keeps it there until you shut it off, but a little experimentation will get the temperature within 25° of the desired figure, and for a start that's all you need.

If you buy a used cook stove (and you probably will, since new ones cost anywhere from $400 up) you should keep a few points in mind when you hunt.

In particular, beware of stoves with warped top surfaces. The distorted metal will leak smoke, and is often a sign that coal has been burned to produce a very hot fire. Usually this also means that the walls and grates in the firebox are damaged. (These are among the first things to go on any old stove.)

Fire walls, if not too badly damaged, can be repaired with special fire-wall cement (obtainable at your local general store). Grates are a harder problem. If you have a model made by a company that's still in business, you can get replacements. If the manufacturer has folded, however, you may have to search until you find another old stove you can cannibalize.

Don't worry too much about rust, unless the surface of your stove is badly pitted. A superficial coating will burn off in use, and blacking will restore that shiny finish you envisioned.

10/1/2014 10:32:56 AM

Choosing a stove that you can live with is hard enough without worrying about breaking the bank. I have always lived in a home with a wood stove from my grandparents house to my parents house. There is something about wood heat that is so much better than gas or propane heat. Or at least in my opinion. My boyfriend recently purchased an outdoor wood stove and it is amazing. It heats the house, the garage, and once you stack it up good you can leave it from a good 7 hours. However, I wanted something a little different so I decided to do some research and ended up purchasing a Kitchen Queen Wood Cook Stove. I am in love! I decided to go through and not only did I get a great price but they had great customer service. I love the Kitchen Queen because it not only heats my home but I can cook on it and heat my water. I recommend anyone looking to purchase a wood stove takes a look at this link: For anyone who is considering switching to a wood cook stove or strictly a wood stove please check out their friendly and always ready to answer any questions or concerns you may have.

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