Cook Stoves: Do More Than Cook

Cookstoves - Do More Than Cook - Banner
Cook stoves can be found everywhere from top-of-the-line Italian restaurants to tiny log cabins in the remote wilderness, and there’s no questioning that food prepared on a cook stove is in a category all to itself. But cook stoves occupy a special place in our hearts as a traditional method of cooking, not only for the quality of the finished meal, but for the atmosphere they create. A cook stove reminds us of the best parts of a by-gone era, where time with loved ones was spent chatting around a crackling fire with the smell of home cooking drifting through the air. We’d like to think even a professional chef in Verona is transported back in time whenever they fire up a cook stove in their restaurant.

That’s why we love cook stoves, but they can do so much more than simply cook a meal. In fact, today’s cook stoves offer a variety of additional features that can ehance your whole experience with heating and meal preparations. In this article, we thought we would take a look at some of our favorite cook stove features and let you know which models implement them the best.

Domestic Hot Water
Domestic Hot Water - Pioneer Maid System - Obadiah's Cookstove Community

A passive system installation using a Pioneer Maid Cookstove.

Cook stoves are a common fixture in homes with off-grid capabilities, and several models have an additional powerful feature: The ability to provide hot water to a household. We go over the extensive technical details behind how it all works in this article, but in a nutshell: A stove with domestic hot water capabilities has a “water jacket” attachment for the back or side of the stove. This small block of steel has an entry and exit connection for piping, allowing water to enter from an elevated storage tank, become heated, and then exit back out to the storage tank. That storage tank can then send its hot water throughout the household as needed.

Setting up a water jacket properly is no small task and we highly recommend consulting with professionals before attempting an installation. Once the system is up and running though, many cook stove owners find it a huge benefit to their homes, especially during the cold winter months.

There are a number of cook stoves that support domestic hot water heating via a water jacket, including these models available from Obadiah’s Woodstoves:

Heco 420 Wood & Coal Cook Stove
Vermont Bun Baker Wood Cook Stove
North Hydro Wood Cook Stove
Pioneer Princess Cook Stove

Check out our videos below featuring stoves with a domestic hot water option:

Outside Air Connections

Many stoves, not just cook stoves, feature an “outside air intake.” Exactly what this means is something that even manuals for popular models fail to explain, leaving it a regularly misunderstood and under-utilized feature of wood heat.

In simple terms, an outside air connection is exactly what it sounds like. It brings air from outside into your stove. To understand why this is beneficial, consider how a stove normally operates: You light a fire, and the stove pulls air from your home into the firebox to create a draft of oxygen that fuels the fire, which you increase or decrease with your damper controls. What many people don’t consider is how the air that they’re allowing into the firebox and out of the chimney, is the very air that they are trying to heat with the stove. Would it not be more efficient if there was a way to pull air into the stove that is not from inside your home?

Outside Air to Stove - Example

Example of an outside air connection to a stove.

The answer is “yes,” and that’s where outside air connections come in, which is simply a pipe that connects a hole in the stove to the exterior of your home. By piping air into the firebox from the outdoors, your stove will not be slowly bleeding out all the hot air that it creates inside your home. This means your fire’s heat will last longer and you ultimately use less wood over time, raising the overall efficiency of your stove.

Outside air connections are found in many cook stoves, including the following:

Concept 2 Air Wood Cook Stove
Concept 2 Air Mini Wood Cook Stove
Rizzoli S90 Wood Cook Stove

Warming Oven

Warming ovens are another under-utilized feature of many cook stoves. A warming oven allows you to temporarily store food items in a closed space where they will be kept warm by the heat of the fire. While these additions are not for actual cooking, they can still come handy when preparing larger meals where a dish is finished before the main course. Warming ovens are often found on the bottom of cook stoves where they receive heat from the firebox above, but on more traditional models they can be found elevated above the cook top, where the heat from the flue radiates through the box.

Many cook stoves offer warming ovens, but some of our favorites include:

Vermont Bun Baker Wood Cook Stove
J.A. Roby Centauri Wood Stove with Cooking Surface
La Nordica Rosa Sinistra Reverse
Magnum Wood or Coal Cook Stove by MBS

Grilling Rack
La Nordica America - Grilling Rack

Firebox grilling rack in the La Nordica America wood cook stove.

If you have a cook stove, chances are there’s only one thing you want to do with it: Cook. While an oven and a cook top can handle most meals, there’s no substitute for the flavor that comes with grilling. That’s why a select few models of cook stoves include a grilling rack, usually optional or removable, that fits inside of the firebox. Simply place or mount the rack in the firebox and you’re in business!

Obadiah’s Woodstoves currently offers the following cook stoves that include firebox grilling racks:

Esse Warmheart S Wood Cook Stove
La Nordica America Wood Cook Stove

Wood and Coal Burning Cook Stoves

Most of us love the warmth and feel of a wood burning stove, but for some stove owners, wood isn’t preferred or it’s simply not an option. That’s why some manufacturers offer multi-fuel cook stoves that can burn both wood and coal. These stoves feature specially designed fireboxes to handle the needs of both coal and wood, with coal requiring oxygen from below as well as a place for ash to collect, and wood needing a flat surface and lower burn temperature than coal.

It should go without saying, but never burn coal in a wood-only stove, as it could damage the firebox and create a safety hazard.

The following cook stoves allow for both wood and coal as fuel:

Heco 520 Cook Stove
Sopka Concept 2 Air Cook Stove
Sopka Concept 2 Air Mini Cook Stove
MBS Magnum Wood and Coal Cook Stove

Soapstone Lining

Many cook stoves are able to provide a great deal of heat, but depending on where the stove is located, it can quickly become uncomfortable to even be in the same room with the raging fire putting out all those BTUs. That’s where a soapstone-lined cook stove comes in handy.

Magnum Wood or Coal Cook Stove - Soapstone

Magnum Wood or Coal Cook Stove with soapstone lining.

Soapstone is a natural rock that is widely known for its ability to retain and radiate heat, which means that even after your fire goes out, the stone will still be warming your living space. Think of it like a battery for storing heat: The heavier the soapstone, the more heat it can store. The best part about soapstone is that the surface temperature never reaches the uncomfortable, extremely dangerous levels that steel or cast iron can. Instead, it gradually reaches temperatures that allow you to sit relatively close to the fire without the risk of scorching your eyebrows off, and it maintains that temperature for much longer than any other material commonly found on cook stove exteriors.

Obadiah’s is proud to offer a variety of soapstone-lined cook stoves, including:

MBS Magnum Wood and Coal Cook Stove
Vermont Bun Baker Wood Cook Stove
Rizzoli L90 Wood Cook Stove
Rizzoli S90 Wood Cook Stove

Check out our video below for more information on how soapstone works and the maintenance involved with it: