Sunday 6 May 2012

Cast Iron or Steel Woodburning Stoves – Which is Best?

The DRU64MF Multifuel Cast Iron Stove
There’s a lot to consider when choosing a multi fuel or woodburning stove, and people often ask whether they should be buying a woodburner with a cast iron or steel body. Both materials have their advantages and both have their fans. People asking this question have usually been given either glowing recommendations or dire warnings about one material or the other by well-meaning friends. It’s important to remember that people who are happy with their stove tend to recommend the one they have, and that tales of problems are often exaggerated. Hopefully the below details should be able to put the advantages and disadvantages of each material into perspective and allow an informed decision, or even whether it matters to you at all.

Cast Iron Woodburning Stoves

Cast iron is the traditional material used for multi fuel and woodburning stoves. Because cast iron stoves are made by pouring molten metal into moulds, decorative details such as motifs or patterns can be incorporated into the body of the stove to enhance its appearance, this is well demonstrated on the Broseley Serrano 5 which has the Broseley Logo cast into the side of the stove. Once hot, cast iron holds heat well and steadily radiates warmth into a room even after the fire in the stove has died down. While cast iron holds heat well, it takes a long time to get up to temperature. If you come home to a cold house and want instant heat, waiting for a cast iron multi fuel stove to warm up may be frustrating. Small variations in the surface of a cast iron woodburning stove are normal, just as it is normal to see grain patterns in a piece of wood, and are not considered to be faults.

The Firebelly FB3 Double-Sided Steel Stove
Steel Woodburning Stoves

Steel stove bodies are cut from sheets of pressed steel and welded together, giving them much cleaner lines e.g the Firebelly FB2, than cast iron stoves. This makes steel ideal for manufacturing modern designer stoves to suit contemporary interiors. The surface of steel multi fuel stoves is very smooth and consistent, which appeals to the modern appetite for flawless finishes. Steel woodburning stoves can be fired up more quickly than cast iron stoves, and begin to give out heat into the room sooner as well. Historically steel woodburners have been associated with vulnerability to hotspots and warping, however these days the quality of steel used has improved so this is rarely a problem.

Cast Iron or Steel?

We have tried to show the main differences between cast iron and steel stoves without getting too technical, and also to show that it isn’t necessarily a big issue when making your choice. Which wood burning stove is best depends on many factors including the size of the room, the size of the fireplace where the stove will be installed, how often you would use the stove, how much you rely on it as a heat source and how quickly you need it to give out heat into the room. It is also important to consider the aesthetic qualities of each material – for most people the stove is a focal point in their living room, so you want it to be something you are happy to look at every day!

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