What is a Soapstone Wood Stove?

J. Nelson

A soapstone wood stove is a wood-burning stove, for home heating, that has side and top panels made of soapstone, rather than cast iron. Soapstone is a soft, natural mineral, and has some of the most extraordinary heating properties of all natural materials. As a result, a soapstone wood stove is reputed to be among the best-performing of all such heating options.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

These stoves provide superior heat because of soapstone’s unique properties. It outperforms other natural minerals, storing more heat for its weight. For example, soapstone has twice the heat-storing ability of iron, the other material most commonly used to make side and top panels for wood stoves. In addition, the substance stores and radiates heat into the home very evenly, avoiding temperature peaks and valleys that are common with other stoves.

Although cast iron wood stoves heat up more quickly than those made of soapstone, its radiance allows it to continue to steadily release stored heat long after the actual fire has gone out. As a result, a soapstone wood stove is prized by people whose primary source of home heating is wood. In addition to potentially reducing wood consumption, it continues to heat the home after people have gone to bed, thereby eliminating the need to get up in the middle of the night to add wood to a fire. Some soapstone stove models can heat a home for up to 14 hours. If a quick-heating stove is desired, there are designs that combine iron and soapstone parts, providing the quick-heating properties of iron with the ongoing radiance of soapstone.

A soapstone wood stove is usually available in three colors — black, gray, and green. These are the three naturally-occurring colors of the stone. There is no difference among them in terms of heating capacity, the color merely changes the look of the stove.

Although a wood stove is different from a cook stove fueled by wood, a soapstone wood stove can be used as a cooking surface as well. Pots and pans can be placed directly on the top panel of the stove for this purpose. A wood-fired cook stove differs in form from a wood stove used for heating, as its primary purpose is for kitchen use, and one includes an oven and large stove top.

A soapstone wood stove can be a functional and attractive addition to a home, especially for those who wish to use wood as a heat source. They are generally rugged and durable. Also, after the initial expense of the stove and installation, they are inexpensive to operate because the only cost involved is typically that of the wood.

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