A wood burning stove or woodstove is a stove which burns wood to generate energy for heating and cooking. There are several different types of wood burning stoves, ranging from small pellet stoves for heating to large wood burning cookstoves. These stoves are used in many regions of the world, and were once the primary method of heating and cooking in many societies. Several manufacturers continue to produce stoves that burn wood, although the demand for such stoves has fallen in lieu of more energy-efficient and environmentally-friendly methods of energy generation.
When people use this type of stove, they build fires inside the stove box, which is a sturdy insulated compartment designed to withstand considerable heat. A chimney attached to the stove box provides draw and vents the smoke from the stove, and the level of heat can be controlled with the use of a damper, which is essentially like a valve which can open to admit more air for a hotter fire, and closed to admit less air to slow the rate of burning.
The surface of the stove gets extremely hot, making it suitable for stovetop cooking. People can also create oven-like conditions on the surface of the stove with the use of cloches, and some stoves include built-in oven compartments for baking. Learning to cook with a wood burning stove is a challenging and exacting practice, as the heat on a woodstove is not as easy to adjust as the heat on an electric or gas stove. The use of these stoves for cooking is relatively rare in much of the world today.
A wood burning stove can also generate heat to warm a house, and they continue to be used for this purpose. However, using wood for heat does involve the use of a great deal of resources, and it generates pollution. High-efficiency stoves have been built to reduce the demand for wood to burn, and pellet stoves are specifically designed to burn waste from paper and lumber mills. In some areas, bans on these stoves have been proposed for the sake of cleaner air.
Wood burning stoves tend to be more common in rural areas of the world, and in regions where electrical service is not widespread. Modern stoves are much more efficient and less polluting than their historic counterparts, thanks to tightened regulations regarding construction and design standards, but the stoves still tend to be more wasteful than gas and electric heaters.