Monday, November 29, 2010

Cleaning Your Wood Cook Stove

Cooking on this stove is so easy!

I cook on my wood cook stove almost all year. It is easy after you learn the basics which I have covered in this post, Building The Fire In Your Wood Cooking Range. We bought this stove used at an antique shop when we lived in our previous house. It was a rental house but we could have wood stoves there. My husband was teaching me all about them, first with our wood heating stove, and then we got this one. To move it, the stove comes almost all apart. I guess that is how they transported them in wagons long ago.

The ash bucket was full!

Saturday morning when I got up and went to make a fire in my wood cook stove, I saw it needed the ashes emptied out. This is something you do often, once a day or every other day, depends on how much you are using it, and the type of wood you are burning. Some types of wood make more ash than others. There is more that needs cleaning on a wood cook stove than the ash box and the chimney. We all know about chimneys.............right??????? Mine does not ever need cleaning because it has a straight pipe with no elbows. I usually wouldn't say never, but every time we check it, it has been very clean. So even though you think it is clean, check it to make sure.

One of the burners over the oven with ashes on top of oven.

The first thing you have to do is to clean out the firebox by shaking all your ashes to the ash box below the firebox. Then of course, you would empty the ash box. Then take all your burners and top parts off your stove. Put them on newspapers or old bags. I had to use plastic bags since we do not subscribe to paper newspapers anymore. They will be very dirty underneath so make sure it is big enough to catch all the dirt.

Look inside the cook stove.

Once you have the top all open, you will need a brush and a small broom to brush the ashes off the oven and into the firebox. From there the ashes should fall into the ash box below. The two burners on the extreme right of the stove have an open area under them. I use a scraping tool and scrape the inside of the stove there, and it falls down below. This is an area where much creosote builds up due to the firebox being so far from it. When you cook, these burners would be warm or very low temperature. That proves that if it is close to your wall, it won't catch your house on fire. The firebox is where it gets hot. If my fire is going and you touch the right side of the stove it won't feel hot at all.

Creosote coats the underside of the burners that are not over the firebox.

I pile all the burners and the parts that hold them on a plastic bag. Now I have to use my brush to scrape them. I use a brush I bought at Walmart for cleaning grills. It is stiff and I can really scrub with it. Creosote coats the burners that were not over the firebox. The two burners that sit over the firebox never have any on them because the fire burns it off. The triangular pieces you see in this photo are the parts of the stove that the burners rest on. It all comes apart for easy access. The rest of the stove doesn't come apart that easy.This is as far as I go.

Creosote close up!

As you see the creosote builds up on those burners. It comes off very easily though, but is messy. This is what builds up inside chimneys when they are not cleaned often. It is no wonder they get blocked and when you open your wood stove door smoke pours out. I did let this job go too long. Our chimneys though, are my husband's job and he is good about cleaning and taking care of them. So I never really have to worry about them.

The firebox and the top of oven with ashes on top.

Some people like to keep a bed of ashes on top of the oven. They say it will warm the oven and hold the fire more. I am not sure. I clean it off and it will build back up again pretty quickly so I am not worried about it. Our stove is very old and has many little holes in it and rusted areas. We try to keep it from being wet but sometimes the pans will be wet and may cause it to get more rusted than we like. I buy the stove black every now and then and apply it to the stove. But only in the summer. Now is not the time for that.

Scraping Out the bottom through the bottom ash door.

Scraping it at the bottom is the hardest part of this job for me. Since I have extremely bad knees stooping down on the floor is not an easy task. What I do is sit on a chair or stool in front of the stove and do it the best I can that way. I had put this job off longer than I should have so it was a big job this time. It should be done more often than that. Once it is clean though, you notice immediately that it works better. Starting the fire is always hard to do if the ash box underneath is full. We empty that often.

All done and ready to cook!

Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
All Photographs Copyright © 2010  Kathleen G. Lupole
Updated August 2016

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