If you’ve got your eye on a wood stove but you cannot decide between cast iron and steel, then not to worry, we’re here to help.
The first thing that you should know when it comes to the operation of either stove is that steel stoves generally heat up faster than their cast iron counterparts. The steel wood stove will heat up rapidly and then start to radiate heat almost immediately. Whereas the cast iron stove is a slow starter, it can often take a couple of hours to really get going. However, when the fire has started to die down you can expect the cast iron to radiate heat for several more hours. Once either stove has already heated up then you can expect comparable heat to come from them.
If you are planning on purchasing your wood stove to burn it 24-7 throughout winter then you won’t be affected much by this difference in heating up times. However, if you want to burn your stove just a few times a week and you are looking to heat your home rapidly, then you may want to opt for the steel option.
Most often you will find more features on the cast iron stove than on the steel. For example upper air controls that will allow you to mix more air into the catalytic chamber. There are usually lower air controls too that will allow you to adjust how much air the fire box is receiving. Steel stoves usually only have lower air controls.
Another feature that cast iron stoves offer is the ash drawer. It’s a place to catch the ash that will fall through the cast grate slots. This makes it easy to clean. Some may have what is known as a shaker grate which can be controlled from the side using a special tool that resembles a wrench or spanner. Steel stoves come already lined with firebrick. You just need to shovel out the ash from them when it comes to cleaning maintenance. Please note that firebrick can be damaged if you don’t treat them with care, but they can be replaced.
Whichever wood stove you opt for, know that it’s likely to last for over 15 years so they are a good investment, not to mention the costs that you will save with the fuel.