Our wood cook stove has several functions; it heats the home, cooks our meals, dries our clothes, and heats our domestic hot water at all our sink facets like a regular hot water heater. The wood cook stove is basically the heart of our home because of its multifaceted use. We chose the Kitchen Queen, Amish design wood cook stove for function and durability to last us for years. There are other stoves on the market and though this one is not fancy; it is a work horse. This picture was taken during the winter; notice the snow boots to the left are drying from being out in the snow.
We tend to build a continuous fire for the months of November through most of March. We have not been burning the best wood due to we burn what we find. Last year, it was mostly lodgepole pine and some of it was still green. We’re not wood snobs; we burn what is available on the state forest land from the trees that have been downed in the summer & winter storms. However, since we are not picky about what we burn the byproduct is creosote buildup in the wood stove. We also damper down the stove each night that we go to bed, and in the morning, we open the stove up wide and the embers from the night before roar back to life. I just add more wood to the already existing fire. We probably went the entire month of January without needing to strike a match.
Below, I inserted some how-to videos we created for cleaning our wood cook stove. It does seem a little overwhelming and labor intensive, but living off grid and sustainably takes time, ingenuity, and hard work. We may clean our stove out more than others, but in the 3rd part you will understand why when I mention the vent to heat the oven sticking from creosote build up; it’s time to clean.
I try to clean out the stove about every other month since we damper the stove at night, burn poor quality wood, and heat up cold water in the firebox for our domestic hot water. I usually start on a morning the stove is cold and scrape the creosote off the door and walls within the stove. I use my shop vacuum to remove the ash and flakes of creosote. I open every access point on the stove and clean it from top to bottom. The entire process takes between 1 and 2 hours depending on how bad the creosote deposits are. The whole process is messy, but I don’t mind the chore. I think it’s my way of giving thanks to the stove for performing so well during the winter months. After all, the stove is such a crucial piece to our home. As stated before it heats our home, our hot water, cooks our food, and dries our clothes. One day I desire to build a Thermo Electric Generator (TEG) and use the stove to generate a small amount of electricity in the winter. It may not charge the batteries, but it may allow us to last long enough to the next sunny day for the panels to finish the job.
If you are interested in a wood cook stove; you need to consider what your wants and needs are, and purchase a stove that will ultimately keep you happy with its performance. We were debating between the Flame View and the Kitchen Queen, ultimately we went with the Kitchen Queen because the view of the flame would have been towards a wall and not a view for us at all. People representing the stove companies online seem to push their favorite stove over all others. If you are debating between different types of stoves, call at least two different companies that represent different stoves you are interested in. They will tell you the best features of their favorite stove and point out the negatives of others. Remember the choice is up to you, the customer.
Here are two reputable wood stove dealers we spoke to…
Daniel at Stoves & More (at the time represented, Flame View)
Woody at Obadiah’s Wood Stoves (at the time represented, Kitchen Queen)