A Guide to Buying Your First Wood Burning Stove

A wood burning oven in the background with Christmas socks and a book in the foreground.

My grandparents had a wood stove in their home in the countryside. It was used to warm the house on cold winters nights, though I mostly remember getting yelled at for pretending to touch it and burn myself when I knew my grandmother was looking. Though I have a typically modern home with typical modern appliances, having something so traditional has always intrigued me. This article will work as a buying guide for those in the market for an old time wood stove. We'll discuss the advantages of having one, the two main types of stoves, and the background information necessary for contemplating a purchase.

Why Have a Wood Stove?



When shopping for a means to heat your home, there are a number of options from which to choose. Since electricity, oil, and gas are commonplace in American homes, the simplicity of wood burning has fallen out of style, largely in part to its reputation as being hard on the environment. With a trending turn toward old fashioned and simple home habits, however, engineers have redesigned our old grandparents’ models to make the timeless wood burning stove less carbon emitting.

Also, unlike the other types of heat methods mentioned, this heat generation technique is based in wood and thrives in its never-ending renewability. Though I am not for the merciless cutting down of trees and forests for jest, the making of electricity, oils, and gases is far messier and costly to the earth than the wood needed for stoves.

Money and Independence

What many like about having a wood burning stove in their homes is the amount of control that can be had, mainly from not having to write a check to a heating company every month. From my experience, most homeowners have allotments of wood delivered once or twice per season and use it as needed. After the initial investment of buying the stove itself, costs can be less than what one typically pays when heating a home with other sources.

Buying Local

Where I’m from, farmers markets are a big deal because of all the goods made and sold in the area. Another wonderful aspect of owning a wood burning stove is that all the wood and supplies needed for its maintenance can be purchased locally. This supports a community’s economy.

A Safety Net

If you ever fear not having power and heat, or the oil man being late, then a home wood stove is for you. This type of home heating system is a wonderful safety accessory and primary or secondary heat supplier. As long as wood and matches are handy, you and your family have a guaranteed heat source no matter what life may bring.


Wood stoves tend to all look and work similarly. They all feature a square or boxed frame, a door which one opens to put wood inside, and a long pipe that reaches to the ceiling where smoke is released to the outside air.

The wood should be selected based on the dimensions of the stove body. Heat is channeled through interior engineering, causing it to radiate through the walls and roof of the unit. Unlike a bonfire, these heaters are self-sufficient. Strategically placed vents allow fresh air in to aid the flames, and as the wood begins to decompose, carbon, gases, and charcoal vaporize and escape through the chimney. Depending on the layout of the home itself, fans may sometimes be needed to help circulate the warm air.

Types of Heaters

Cast Iron

A cast iron stove.

When one thinks of traditional, wood-heated ovens, the cast iron model commonly comes to mind. Often boasting straight lines and refined corners, this stove is more expensive than most thanks to the expertise its creation requires. Despite taking a while to initially heat up, thanks to its dense design, cast iron stoves retain heat the longest of any competitors. A cast iron stove is the Cadillac among its peers.


Steel wood-burning oven.

Most modern wood heaters are made of steel, as the material is far less expensive than cast iron. This type of stove is known for its airtight build, and new models are made with EPA regulations in mind that boost efficiency. In comparison with other models, a steel oven heats the fastest and is thought of as the “modern” option among traditional heating systems.


Like most big ticket appliances, a wood burning stove is truly an investment. Based on your wants and needs, these units can be purchased for hundreds well into thousands of dollars. Thoroughly evaluate your wants and needs and chose the option that best addresses them. Nothing beats the look, feel, and smell of this type of home accessory / appliance and I hope you get great enjoyment out of its use.