Wood Burning Stoves: Is Cast Iron or Steel Best?

One of our clients who was recently making a purchase of a wood burning stove, asked whether they should opt for a cast iron or a steel fire.

In actual fact, we have a slight preference for steel stoves. You may already be aware that cast iron can actually hold heat better than steel. It’s for this reason that most people do look to cast iron as being the way to go.

However, let’s dig a little deeper into the topic to be able to really understand it and make a call on whether this is the best course of action for them to take.

One particularly important point to know is that there are very few cast iron stoves made in this country, and many of those that are available for purchase are actually made of steel with the only cast iron being the doors on the front.

However, one of the issues with cast iron is that it has a weakness when compared to steel. When cast iron gets hot too fast it can actually develop a type of thermal shock. Small cracks can appear in it. Our clients often tell us about how their old stove is now covered in a lot of fire cement in order to keep it together due to there being so many tiny cracks in it. With steel, this doesn’t happen. Steel reacts to heat in a different way and will stretch rather than crack or split when in use.

Another myth is that you’ll experience a twist or bend from steel stoves when they are faced with intense heat. Of course, this will happen with lower quality steel that has not been manufactured or designed to last. However, those that are well made and designed will not suffer from this. When you make your purchase of either a wood-burning or a multi-fuel stove, be sure to opt for one that comes with a 3 year warranty. This will demonstrate the confidence that the manufacturer has in their product.

Most modern stoves use a low thermal brick set that will allow the fire to burn far hotter and produce an efficient heat. Good design is always accompanied with high efficiency. The bricks used are comparable to those used in night storage heaters. They are built to retain heat and it’s this reason that cast iron stoves are not as effective.

So in summary, steel wood-burning stoves are actually superior to cast iron ones. They will not crack and the better quality ones will not twist or bend. Once you find cracks in your cast iron stove, then it’s time to purchase a new one or they could be a danger to your family and home.

Our advice is to always select a steel stove that is of a high quality. Ideally your selection will be made in the UK and therefore you will be able to follow up on any warranty issues.

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