Burning Wood

My drawing of our first wood burning stove.

We used this to heat our small house in Simpson County, Mississippi. We used a pickup or two of wood for the entire winter. Sometimes I cooked on it if the bottled gas ran out.  It was also great for drying diapers hung on lines across the room.

For those who haven’t used a wood burning stove like the Atlanta Stove Works we used, here is a diagram of safety measures. When we first started, my husband didn’t realize why the stove was set out so far from the wall and moved it closer. Luckily we just ended up with a scorched piece of paneling and not a house fire.

Wood/coal burning furnace we used in Idlewild, Michigan.

This was not a very efficient furnace. It took enormous amounts of wood. My husband spent much time cutting, hauling and splitting wood all winter long. Because he worked long hours from spring through fall it wasn’t possible to get all the wood needed during the snow free months. Luckily we lived in the Manistee National forest and there was plenty of wood around.  A few times we burned coal. It burned hot but it was so dirty. Soot everywhere. Up and down the stairs all winter long to keep the fire going.

A few weeks worth of wood.
Combination wood and electric stove on the deck on it’s way to the garage.
Furnace we heated with on Willis Mill.

The cook stove we used for several years in the Idlewild Lake house was a combination of wood burning on one side and electric on the other. The only photo in my collection and the one above.  The stove was on it’s way from the kitchen to the garage after the insurance inspector said it didn’t meet guidelines for safe use.

When we moved to the house on Water Mill Lake we had a wood furnace like this one. It was  very efficient and could burn one load almost all day. That meant a bit less wood (by now we also had a wood splitter) and a few less steps up and down the stairs to keep it going. Wonderful!

Stove we now use to supplement the furnace and heat the house.

When we moved to the house we now live in in Atlanta, Ga we found this stove already in place. The house is passive solar and has a berm against the north wall and a wall of windows on the south side. We burn wood to take the chill off in the winter if there is no sun out. If the sun is out it heats all by itself. We also have an gas furnace we use only rarely when we don’t feel like building the fire. We are back to a couple of pick up loads a winter and with all the trees that topple over in Atlanta we have no lack of wood available. If only we’d brought the wood splitter.

Jim adding wood to the heater at the end of the solarium. Maybe one day we will change it for one that will let us see the flames dancing.

18 thoughts on “Burning Wood

  1. hi Kristin, what a great array of fireplaces…you were really lucky to avoid the fire, weren’t you. There’s nothing nicer than the sight of a fire burning, except perhaps the warmth it generates when you really need it. We had one not unlike yours with a glass panel in our house in Brisbane -not that we really needed it. What a gorgeous view of the lake on this page! Really tranquil….I’m a tiny bit jealous 😉

    1. Yes, it was a gorgeous view. I wish we could have figured out how to combine being there and being here but, only a view of the city outside now. Lots of trees though.

  2. Hi Kristin, I enjoyed this so much. In my Mom’s cabin, where we lived for a couple of years, we had a stove like just like the one in the diagram (Radiant Type). Those are wonderful little inventions.

    The strangest way to heat a place where I have lived was a sawdust furnace, back in the 80’s.

    Your solarium is beautiful.

    Kathy M.

  3. I noticed four different houses so you must have a lot of heating experience. Somewhere you wrote that your husband went out all winter cutting wood. I’m sure that was his method of staying warm 🙂 In all earnest, I envy you because of your drawing capabilities! It radiates a lot of charm, you should do something with that talent (if you don’t do so already).

  4. How fun to be able to see this all in one post. I love the heat that wood stoves give off. There’s nothing quite like it. The house I live in now had a furnace much like the coal/wood one you show. It had cast iron doors with pictures of Indian chiefs. Not efficient, but that gravity heat is so much cozier than forced air. Unfortunately, it started leaking carbon monoxide, so we had it replaced with a modern furnace.

  5. I remember when the wood stoves were all the rage in the 80s. I really wanted one but never got one. I’m sure we missed out on all the fun of chopping wood and carrying ashes away.

  6. I enjoyed the pictures of the various wood stoves. I’ve never cooked on a wood stove–but often think that I’d like to try it someday since a really enjoy making old recipes which assumed that the cook would be using a wood or coal stoves.

  7. I’ve never had a wood burning stove but I’ve stayed in houses which have and you’re right it’s lovely to see the flames dancing.

    1. Fire places are good too but they do not contribute as much heat as you’d like if you are really heating with wood. We had a beautiful stone fireplace in the house with the big old furnace and eventually added a fireplace insert. It made for much better heat but missed the big view of the fire.

  8. Wood stoves are such an evocative furnishing of the American home, but few people actually know them so well. I’m sure you developed a sense of timing for how long it would take to get to the right temperature. Cooking on one is a real art too. My dad grew up with only a wood cook stove in his country home. Sometimes he would go back just to split kindling for the year, all thrown into a pile as big as a car.

    1. Sometimes my husband would build it up so much that we had to open the windows to cool off in the middle of the winter. I remember me and the kids going out behind the house pushing over skinny little dead trees and dragging them back to the house and he would cut them up for the cook stove. At the time didn’t think those would so soon become “the good old days”.

  9. Kristin, you must be a stove expert by now! I have a multi-fuel stove set into a fireplace in my sitting room – it burns smokeless coal, and creates quite a mess, but it heats my radiators and all my hot water. I have back-up electric heating but it’s very expensive – we don’t have mains gas in our village. Your solarium looks like a great place to relax 🙂 Jo

    1. Yes, coal was very dirty. They carried it at the lumber yard when we moved in but by the time we moved they were no longer carrying it.

  10. Love your solarium, but all of this talk of wood chopping and carrying sounds exhausting to me. I’ll stick to electricity, thank you!!!! But I did smile at a few details you mentioned. Glad to hear you never got to burning the house down…

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