Until recent years, cast iron was the only choice available for wood burning stoves. Today however, homeowners are blessed with a wider variety of stove options than ever before. Both cast iron and steel stoves have advantages and disadvantages, from their appearance to their heating ability, longevity and price. Which is better? This question is not as clear-cut as it seems. There are many things to consider when investing in a wood burning fireplace, and material is just one thing that you will need to consider. Ultimately, the decision on which material to choose will largely come down to individual preferences and budget.
In this guide, we take a look at how each of these wood burning stoves compares, to help you make an informed decision when purchasing your stove.
Which is Best for Wood Burning Stoves: Steel or Cast Iron?
Cast iron stoves are made from molten iron that is poured into casts. These were the earliest closed combustion fireplaces, with a long history dating back many years. As technology advanced, welding opened up the way for newer types of stoves to be made. Steel stoves are made from sheets of steel that have been welded together. Both of these materials have advantages to consider. Compared side by side, here’s how they stack up against each other:
Cast iron stoves have joints that are sealed with caulk and bolts, with reinforced cement and gaskets added to strengthen the design. Steel stoves have joints that are welded shut. Joints need to be sealed to prevent air leaking into the stove. What this means is that cast iron stoves may require maintenance over the years when joints begin to wear, while steel fireplaces do not. Another thing to keep in mind is that steel stoves often have a double wall construction. This allows the stove to be placed closer to a wall. Cast iron fireplaces on the other hand often need to be kept a little way away from walls. As a result, steel fireplaces are often good for those wanting a built in stove, while iron fireplaces are a good choice for free standing fireplaces.
Both materials will be more effective than an open fireplace, due to the wood stove’s ability to trap and distribute heat. Steel stoves typically heat up quickly and cool down quickly. Cast iron stoves on the other hand take time to heat and cool down more slowly. The latter is able to retain heat for much longer however. If you are looking for a heating solution that will keep your house warm all night, then cast iron is a good choice. If you are looking for a solution that heats quickly and cools quickly, then steel may be a better choice.
A major benefit of cast iron is that it often has a more visually pleasing look. It is for this reason that many homeowners choose these type of fireplaces when shopping for wood burning stoves. Cast iron fireplaces are available in a wide variety of designs that can suit just about any décor style. Steel fireplaces on the other hand are not always as versatile in this regard, although many stylish modern fireplaces can be found in this material. If your fireplace will be taking centre stage as part of your overall décor, then cast iron might be a better choice. If your fireplace will be more functional than anything else, you may want to consider steel.
Generally speaking, cast iron wood stoves can be more expensive than steel, largely for the fact that they are made in a way that requires a greater level of craftsmanship compared to steel. While they may not always heat as quickly, and may require TLC over the years, the look and traditional appeal of this fireplace has made it a favourite for many homeowners investing in wood burning stoves.
In the market for a wood burning fireplace? Contact Hydrofire today to learn more about wood burning stoves in Cape Town.