Wood Stove Corner

Catalytic vs. Non-Catalytic Wood Stoves

Wood stoves are an economical and ecological choice for home heating. Once you've decided to utilize a wood stove, it's necessary to choose the type of stove that works best for your lifestyle. Catalytic and non-catalytic wood stoves both have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Continue reading for a summary of each type of stove.

Catalytic Wood Stoves

Purchasing a catalytic wood burning stove is perfect if you're looking to use the unit as your home's primary source of heat. These stoves are outfitted with a catalytic combustor that's designed to help recycle exhaust gases. Specifically, these combustors work by changing the chemical state of released gases, reducing harmful emissions and allowing them to burn at lower temperatures. When your catalytic wood stove operates at a lower temperature, you'll enjoy longer burn times and significantly lower emissions. You can even allow these stoves to burn through the night, keeping your home warm despite the cool night air.

Overall, these wood burning stoves are simple to use and will provide your home with evenly circulated heat. If you allow catalytic stoves to burn at a very low temperature, these units are much more than 10% more efficient than non-catalytic stoves.

Keep in mind, though, that there will be some maintenance involved when purchasing a catalytic wood stove. No matter how well you care for these stoves, catalytic combustors need to be replaced after approximately every 12,000 hours of use - most times, that is equivalent to five to ten years. To make sure that your stove is running in top working order, inspect your catalytic combustor annually and clean it regularly - at least every six weeks. It's also important to use clean, well-seasoned fuel in catalytic wood stoves. Otherwise, the moisture in the wood runs the risk of cooling the catalyst and causing your stove to run much less efficiently.

Non-Catalytic Wood Stoves

If you're looking for a stove with a great price point, non-catalytic wood stoves tend to be more affordable than catalytic wood stoves. Rather than depending on a catalyst for an efficient burn, these wood stoves utilize an "air injection" process to ignite the smoke and creosote, allowing it to burn up before harmful gases exit the flue and damage the environment. At high burn rates, non-catalytic wood stoves are almost equal in efficiency to catalytic wood stoves; however, the performance of non-catalytic stoves tends to decline with a lower burn rate.

Non-catalytic wood stoves are less dependent upon fuel type than their catalytic counterpart, but you should also be mindful that it will run best when you use dry wood to fuel the fire. These stoves are easy to start and operate, as well as simple to maintain. With a non-catalytic wood stove, you won't have to worry about taking it apart and cleaning any of its internal components.

Unfortunately, these stoves do not hold a full fire for as long as a catalytic wood stove is able to. Fires tend to last between six and eight hours, making these units ideal for those people who have decreased heating demands. 

So, which is better? 

Ultimately, the choice between a catalytic or non-catalytic wood stove remains contingent upon the functionality that you desire. Most simply stated, catalytic wood burning stoves tend to have a longer burn time, allowing you to use them as a primary heat source for your home, and produce less of an impact on the environment.

If you're still having trouble making a decision or have further questions, please don't hesitate to call a member of our NFI-certified technical sales team at 800.919.1904 for more information. 

Hearth Pads: Basic Info, Sizing Guidelines and Design Options

Hearth pads (also called stove boards or stove pads) protect the area around your fireplace or wood stove from any possible fire dangers that could potentially ruin the integrity of your home. Your hearth is subject to extreme heat and possible rogue sparks from the fire that could ignite a flame where you don’t want them (such as your living room floor). For this reason, Hearth pads are made of noncombustible materials such as brick, tile, stone or concrete to help extinguish any flares that may escape from the fire. Whether your fireplace is floor level or elevated, you can find a decorative style that matches your home and will meet all local codes and requirements.

The size of the firebox determines what size of hearth pad or hearth extension is needed for each unit. As a standard, the hearth must extend at least 16 inches outward from the front opening of the firebox and at least 8 inches on each side. However, if the firebox opening is greater than six square feet, the hearth pad size must increase to stay proportionate to the fire (20 inches from front, 12 inches from sides). We encourage you to reference the manual for your fireplace or stove for specific hearth sizing requirements from the manufacturer.

Hearth Pads have many styles, shapes, colors and sizes available. The standard shape has a flat back and diagonally-edged corners. Square hearth pads are classic and traditional, but using an octagon-shaped hearth pad can give your fireplace a fresh new look. For fireplaces or wood stoves that sit in a corner, there are complementary corner-fitted hearth pad options. Of course, each shape has multiple color combinations available, so you can find the perfect hearth protection for your home. You can even get a custom-made unit to complement your home d├ęcor if none of the stock options interest you.

What to Prepare in your Wood Cook Stove?

Wood cook stoves aren't just for the nostalgic antique collector or country-living enthusiast any longer. As evidenced in our previous post, it's definitely possible to use your wood burning cook stove to prepare hearty dinners and flaky pastries. But, what to make?

You'll find endless cooking resources to guide your new adventure in the kitchen - from stove top sirloin recipes to maintenance instructions. Start simple. While cooking on a wood burning cook stove may not be rocket science, it will take some time and practice to master the form. 
Wood cook stoves are notorious for their uneven and unpredictable heat distribution. While using a trivet to lower the heat will help, you can also employ the three different cooking zones on your stove top to remedy this problem. The hottest area will be right over the firebox, either on the right or left side of your stove. The center surface of your wood cook stove will produce moderate heat, and for simmering food over low heat, use the surface space directly opposite the firebox. In this way, you can move the pots around on the stove's surface depending on the heat required for each dish.

Once you've become accustomed to the way your wood burning cook stove operates, you may want to take more chances with your meals. Cooking en papillote offers a simple way to impress your guests and expand dinner offerings. Translated from French as "in paper," this cooking method involves wrapping thin cuts of meat, vegetables, herbs, and other seasonings in an aluminum foil or parchment paper packet before placing these bundles in the oven to cook. This approach of moist-heat cooking works exceptionally well with fish, but it can also be used to make cheesy potatoes, fajitas, and a simple ratatouille.

Cooking en papillote packs a lot of flavor in those little bundles and doesn't require a lot of your time. Once you combine all the ingredients, the steam and flavorful natural juices do the rest. So next time you have guests over for dinner, transition from your usual pot of stew to Salmon en Papillote - it's easy to make and will impress the most critical eater!

Salmon en Papillote

Ingredients (serves two)

  • 2 (8-oz) salmon fillets
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced in discs
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in discs
  • 1 small basket of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 oz. dry white wine
  • 4 oz. broth
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • Butter, cubed, to taste
  • Salt and pepper
  • Aluminum foil, in 12x20-inch sheets
  • Accurate oven thermometer
Salmon and Zucchini Baked in Parchment
1. Heat your wood cook stove to approximately 450 degrees. Your oven temperature will fluctuate as the wood burns, so aim for a temperature in this range. If oven starts to cool at any point, add one or two dry pieces of kindling to raise the temperature.

2. While waiting for the oven to heat up, prepare your vegetables by slicing them no more than a 1/4" thick. Place the yellow squash, zucchini, tomatoes and onions in a bowl and coat in a thin drizzle of olive oil. 

3. Fold each foil sheet in half, so it measures as a 12x10-in rectangle. Open up the creased foil sheets, placing a salmon fillet on each. Top with vegetable mixture, lemon juice, butter, and seasonings. Fold up the sides of the packet to create a "boat." Pour in broth and drizzle with white wine. 

4. Enclose the foil packets by tightly folding or crimping the sides of the packet together to seal. Make sure that your seal is tightly closed. Then, wrap each packet in foil again to help prevent burning. 

5. Place foil packets inside, avoiding the hot spots in your oven, and cook for 30 minutes. Remove with tongs and unwrap to see if the vegetables and salmon are tender. If not, place back in the oven to cook longer, checking every 5-10 minutes.

Can you Cook on a Wood Stove?

   New wood stove owners often ask whether or not they can use their stove for cooking. A wood stove can do far more than just warming a home. It can bring water to boil, dry damp clothes and even cook an entire meal. In fact, the earliest form of cook stoves were wood burning.

Heartland Oval Wood Cook Stove
Two basic types of wood stoves exist in the market. The first is a wood burning cook stove. These stoves are designed for cooking and typically have a separate firebox.

Napoleon 1150P Cook Stove
Today, we'll offer a couple cooking tips and recommendations for the second type of wood stove. Designed primarily for heating your home, these wood stoves typically only have a single firebox and do not have a separate oven.

Imagine filling your home with the aroma of a pot of chili simmering throughout the day or waking up to the scent and sound of sizzling bacon. The top surface of these wood stoves can generate enough heat to cook a variety of foods. From burgers to french onion soup, these units bring a skillet to a high heat and liquids to a boil, creating endless culinary opportunities.

Vermont Bun Baker 750
Keep in mind, not all wood stoves put out the same amount of heat from the surface. If you are looking to frequently use your wood stove for cooking, select one constructed from cast iron or with a design that gives heat access, like the Napoleon 1150P EPA Wood Gourmet Cook Stove. Wood stoves that have a stone surround, like the Vermont Bun Baker 750 Wood Stove with Soapstone, also perform well for cooking. Keep in mind, stoves with a steel top surfaces take longer to heat up and will be less effective for cooking overall. 

To begin cooking, open the damper of your wood stove and get a good fire burning. Once you have established your fire and your stove surface temperature reaches approximately 500°, you can begin cooking. Place a cast iron skillet, a stock pot, or even a glass casserole dish directly on the surface of your stove and watch your soup begin to bubble. Some stoves even feature removable hot plates, providing you with direct access to the flame for even higher temperatures. 

When cooking on a wood stove, keep in mind you will not have as much control of the temperature as you would with an electric or gas range. If you find the temperature too hot or you need to let your chili simmer, raise your pot or skillet off the direct heat of the stove. In these cases, it remains essential to have a wood stove trivet to prevent excessive heat and burning. 

Having the ability to cook without the use of electricity is a priceless benefit. Many people experience power outages during the winter months due to snowfall or ice storms. Cooking on a wood stove will give you the peace of knowing you're prepared for everything from a power outage to a natural disaster. Wood stove owners understand the benefit of being able to cook and stay warm without power in a way that no one else does.

Woodland Direct not only has an great selection of wood stoves - they're also the premier source for information.  If you have any questions or want more information about cooking on a wood stove, contact one of our NFI-certified professionals at 800.919.1904.

How to Clean and Maintain Your Cast Iron Wood Stove

With summer already upon us, it's the perfect time to perform your regular yearly wood stove maintenance. Like many other home installment projects, using a cast iron wood stove will require some upkeep over time. But, the process is simple and straightforward! Just follow these helpful suggestions and you'll be ready for wood stove season before the maple leaves even begin changing color.

Suggested Supplies:

  • Toothbrush
  • Lint free cloth and rag
  • High temperature stove paint
  • Steel wool or finer grit sandpaper
  • Wire brushes
  • Vacuum with expandable nozzle or small shovel and bucket
  • Glass cleaner
  • Dust mask, safety glasses, and gloves

1. Before even beginning, put on a dust mask, safety glasses, and gloves. Make sure that your wood stove is cool to the touch from the last time it was in use. Then remove the grate and empty the firebox of its ashes, using a vacuum with expandable nozzle to access hard to reach areas. If that is unavailable, simply use a small shovel to scoop the ashes into your corresponding bucket. Cooled ashes can be used on flower beds, gardens and compost pies in very small amounts. By spreading a thin layer of wood ash over your azaleas, you'll add lime, potassium and other trace elements that help with neutralizing acidic soils. 

2. Wipe down the inside of the firebox again with a rag before using a wire brush to remove the dirt in difficult to clean areas. Remove dirt from the grate in the same way, wiping it down with a rag before using the wire brush to scrub away caked on ash and grime. Vacuum once more to remove any lingering dust.  

3. After that's completed, you can focus on the outside of your cast iron wood stove. Use a lint free cloth to wipe away any dust on its surface. Begin with the body of the stove, working your way from the top to bottom, before moving onto the base. A toothbrush can be used to clean off any grime in between moldings if your stove has a decorative facade. 

4. Examine the body and base of your cast iron stove for signs of rust. Unfortunately, rusting is a common problem for these stoves, especially in locations of high humidity. This can be easily remedied by using steel wool or a finer grit sandpaper to remove the rust. Simply rub spots in a circular motion to wipe away the rust before cleaning these areas again with a lint free cloth.

5. If your wood stove has a glass door, wipe down both sides with glass cleaner. Performing this regular maintenance will prevent carbon from baking onto the inside of your glass door, making your stove parts last longer

6. Finally, we recommend that you paint your wood stove every couple years to keep it in good shape. High temperature stove paint comes in a variety of colors and will prevent rusting. Make sure that the temperature on the can of high temperature stove paint can withstand at least 1200 degrees. You may also want to purchase a spray can gun for easy application of the paint. Simply attach to nozzle and spray the paint in steady lines across your stove's surface, stopping the stream at the end of each row to prevent dripping. Make sure that glass stove window is covered prior to this.

When you are actively using your cast iron wood stove, you should intermittently check for spots where water gathers and wipe away immediately. We also recommend that you have your wood stove and corresponding chimney inspected once a year by a local building inspector or chimney sweep. They will be able to recognize signs of gradual deterioration that you might not immediately notice. These include everything from cracks, leaks, and warping to gaps in the baffle or creosote in the chimney. Also, remember to replace or repair your stove when necessary. If left to deterioration, dangerous structural damage can occur.

Product Review - Efel S33 Wood Stove

Efel USA considers casting iron to be an artform. They combine a knowlege of efficient combustion technology with clean, classic designs to produce some of the most internationally recognized wood stoves on the market today. This company stands on the pillars of quality and efficiency - and with over 150 years in the business, they're someone you can trust.

The Efel S33 Wood Stove features a new kind of combustion technology that will change the way you heat your home, saving you energy and money on the monthly bills. It heats a generous 1,200 to 1,600 sq ft area, making it ideal for the moderately sized ranch. And with its long burn times, high efficiency rating, and maximum burn rate of 59,000 BTUs per hour, this wood burning stove will out-perform even your highest expectations. 

So, why else should you buy the Efel S33 Wood Stove? We'll break it down for you. 

1. The Efel S33 is the only cast iron wood stove that can be operated with an optional remote control. With the programmable digital thermostat and convenience of the control, you'll be able to manage the intensity and height of the flames - right from your living room recliner! Once you set your desired temperature, this wood stove does all the work, so you don't have to.  

2. Because of its internationally patented Woodbox Combustion Technology, this wood stove produces long and even burn times of up to 10 hours. Unlike any other wood burning stove out there, the Efel S33 preheats the air in its cavity in order to distribute it slowly and evenly over the fire. The hot air in the chamber is siphoned through the wood stove's air baffles at different rates to create the flame display that you're looking for. By doing this, it's able to deliver high energy efficiencies and only emits a very low amount of carbon, making it the environmentally responsible choice for wood stoves.

3. The Woodbox Combustion Technology will also keep the large glass window free from soot and smudges, giving you an exceptionally clear picture of the fire. Even when burning wood on the lowest setting, the glass will remain clear! That means that you'll never have to open up the front loading door again to see if more wood is needed. 

4. The firebox of the Efel S33 is built from two layers of 10 gauge steel, adding to its exceptional durability and enduring construction. This steel is very thick, so it won't dent or scratch easily. Its airtight double wall construction and double-glazed window will both add extra insulation to the firebox, keeping your fire burning effectively throughout the day.

5. Its high efficiency rating - up to 80% - allows you to use less wood and save more money! This EPA certified wood stove produces almost no smoke, nominal ash, and needs less firewood in order to operate well. It also meets or exceeds international emissions standards, allowing you to do your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

What factors are most important to you when shopping for a wood stove? 

Wood Stove Accessories

Wood stoves have been around for hundreds of years and at one time were the primary heating source in the home.  Since their conception many wood stove accessories have been developed to increase the efficiency of the wood stove and to improve their usability.

Hearth Extension – Protect your floors from the heat of the wood stove by utilizing a hearth extension in front of the stove.  Created out of non-combustible materials and trimmed in aluminum, the hearth extension is the perfect way to ensure your floors and surrounding area are kept clean and safe.

Kettles – Problems with the dry air created by a wood stove are easy to solve by filling a cast iron kettle with water and placing it on top of your stove.  The heat generated will cause the water in the kettle to boil making a warm steam that will add that much needed humidity back into the room and make it much more comfortable.

Thermometers – Ensure that your wood stove is running at its optimum temperature by adding a wood stove thermometer.  Simply attach most thermometers with a magnet or a screw and easily monitor and regulate the heat of your stove.

Stove Fan – If you’re looking for a way to increase the efficiency of your wood stove without increasing your monthly costs then a stove fan might be just what you need.  Simply place it on top of your wood stove and the fan will generate its own electricity from the heat of the stove.  This will increase the efficiency of the stove by improving the circulation of warm air in the room.  Since it uses no electricity it doesn’t cost anything extra and can even save you on burning wood.

Cast Iron Grate – Extend the life of your wood stove by keeping heat off of the cast iron base.  Grates are also useful for increasing air flow underneath the wood to make it more efficient.

Catalytic Combustor – Keep your wood stove operating at maximum efficiency by adding a catalytic combustor.  Catalytic combustors help ensure cleaner emissions in the air.

Other Accessories – Whether you want to spruce up your wood stove pipe with a decorative stove pipe sham, are in need of a simpler way to clean up with an ash scoop, or you just need a way to make things a bit easier with an insert puller, auto draft inducer, gasket and adhesive replacement kits, or just about anything else – there is a wood stove accessory to meet all of your wood stove needs.