• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic

cast iron stoves vs steel stoves  RSS feed

 
John Chatzidakis
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Folks, we have a cast iron stove which includes an oven and a hot plate on top. Unfortunately a crack has appeared on the top near the hot plate. This is either down to its age, or maybe we put a pan of water on top to warm up and some of that cold water and the temperature change was too much for it and caused the crack. Has anybody got any advice on that? The stove is around 15 to 20 years old (we bought it second hand). We are now looking to replace it and have looked at steel stoves, with those bricks inside that retain heat. The first question is: do steel stoves produce the same amount of heat as cast iron stoves and can we put pans directly on to it to cook on? One shop said we could put pans on top of steel ones but another shop said the circle which looks like a pan ring was just for access to clean it. Thanks in advance for any help.
Secondly with cast iron ones, can we put a pan anywhere on the top or do we have to stay inside the marked out ring zones? We are a bit wary now of cooking on the top after the last one cracked.
Thank you guys.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 979
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
122
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm no stove expert, but I can talk from my own experience of using woodstoves for close to 40 years.

The "hot plate" or "pan ring" on a woodstove is designed to be removed and the pot is placed over the hole for cooking. My grandmother would alternate between placing the cook pot over the opening versus atop the plate versus atop a cooking ring she placed on the plate, all depending upon how much heat she wanted for cooking. Her woodstove had different sized plates to not only accommodate different sized pots but to also limit the exposure to the hot flames & gases. It also had one "burner" where the plate was a series of rings so the size of the hole was adjustable. Many steel stoves don't have the removable plates since the stove surface heats up much more quickly than a cast iron one. So there's not as much of a need to get the pot bottom closer to the heat while waiting for the cast iron to heat up. But I've seen heavy gauge steel stoves with cooking plates.

Does one need to stay within the designated ring? No. I'll move a pot to the corner when I want it to cook slower. The corners are usually cooler. That's where the saying "put it on the back burner" or "on the back of the stove" came from. It was cooler there. Things cooked slower.

Cast iron stoves heat up slower and also cool down slower than steel stoves. Starting out a cast iron stove with a roaring fire can heat it up too quickly, thus causing a crack. I've never had a stove crack from putting a room temperature pot into it, but I've been warned not to take a pot from the refrigerator and place it onto a hot stove. Also, I was taught not to put pots on until the stove heated up some. No cold pots atop a freshly started stove. Give the metal a chance to heat and expand first.

Stoves can be cracked not only by firing them too quickly or too hot, but also by adding a frozen log. My neighbor used frozen logs that he stored outside on his porch until the time he threw one in that was crusted in ice and CRACK. Luckily he was able to replace the part that cracked. I heard of another neighbor who had over fired his stove and it was glowing cherry red. He threw a pot of water on it, cracking the stove.

Those bricks inside the stove are not for heat retention, but rather, to protect the metal from intense heat. Intense heat can weaken the metal. Never run a stove designed to use firebricks without the bricks installed. Otherwise the stove can literally be burned out over time. If the salesman tells you that the bricks are for heat retention, then he's not familiar with woodstoves. I'd be really wary.

I'm running a Morso Squirrel in my home right now. It's a small stove but I can fit two pots on it. It's a cast iron one. I would have preferred a good steel box, but they aren't available here and the shipping costs to bring one I were way too high.
 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 979
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
122
books forest garden rabbit solar tiny house woodworking
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I forgot about your crack. While cast iron cracks can be repaired, it often isn't feasible. I've talked with a welder about it in the past and such repairs require a welder knowledgable with cast iron welding. Not every one is. It's usually far cheaper to buy a replacement piece from the manufacturer. But if your stove is 20 years old, there's a good chance that the manufacturer no longer has replacement parts available. Stove models constantly are changing, and many stove companies have gone out of business over the years. Many foundries have shut down.

I recently was given a cast iron stove because the top cracked. It's a Jotul, so possibly I could order a replacement top. But I'm using the stove outdoors so the crack won't matter for what I need the stove for. I used a screwdriver to slip a strip of 1/4" door gasket into the crack and topped it with a dab of stove cement. It's doing the job. It's keeping the stove airtight enough for now.
 
John Pollard
Posts: 128
Location: Ozarks
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm a metal fabricator and welding cast iron is very feasible either with an arc welder and special rods made for cast iron or a with mig welder. They key is to preheat the cast iron which would be a pretty easy thing to do with a wood stove. Basically get that thing as hot as you can by building a fire in it. Slowly of course. And then weld it and bring the heat back down slowly. If it needed to be welded from the inside or both sides then it would be a bit trickier and a torch might have to be used for some or all of the preheating.
Of course a lot depends on how accessible the spot is, whether the top could be removed and brought to the shop or if the whole stove would have to be brought there. It's possible to be able to do it where it sits also.
I've welded cast aluminum without preheating the part due to no torch available. I ran multiple passes over it and it cracked after the first two passes but by the third pass it was preheated so it didn't crack that time. Two more passes after that and it was fixed. I was able to weld it from both sides and there was no need to grind any of the weld off afterwards which is preferable with cast metal.

I have a steel stove with a nice flat top and we cook on it all the time but it has no pan holes so it has to be running pretty hot to boil water. Pretty miserable to cook things that need constant attention. Gives new meaning to "slaving over a hot stove".
 
John Chatzidakis
Posts: 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you very much to both Su Ba and John Pollard for your valuable feedback, which will help us decide what we're going to do next. Best wishes, John
 
Tim Malacarne
Posts: 226
Location: South central Illinois, USA
2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

I'd just keep an eye on the crack, see if it gets any bigger... Sometimes they crack a little and will stay that way for years, long as you don't disturb it...
 
Why is the word "abbreviation" so long? And this ad is so short?
FT Position Available: Affiliate Manager Who Loves Permaculture & Homesteading
https://permies.com/t/69742/FT-Position-Affiliate-Manager-Loves
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!