ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Environmentally Efficient & Friendly Soapstone Fires

Updated on April 26, 2013
Soapstone Fire
Soapstone Fire | Source

Beautiful Soapstone

The fireplace in the holiday cottage at Mairela Holistic Retreat has now been replaced with a more energy efficient model in line with our progress towards sustainable living and holidays.

The new fire is made of beautiful soapstone which has an extremely high heat-conducting capacity. Soapstone’s weight and heat are higher than other commonly used fireplace materials plus it is also fireproof and doesn’t crumble at extreme temperatures…..Finland being a land of extreme temperatures. Sometimes we step out of our +25 cottage out into the -25 winter weather!

In Finland the name of the stone is vuolukivi and it has been used for centuries in the north of Finland as a warming fireplace stone. Soapstone was formed over hundreds of millions of years of magnesite rich rock being crushed and subjected to intense heat beneath the earth’s surface.

Ingenious Fire Systems

Coupled with the ingenious Finnish fire system of contra-flow channels the thermal energy from the fire isn’t directed straight up the chimney, as still happens in many UK fireplaces but instead flows around the fire being recovered by the soapstone until eventually it is only the flue-gases which leave via the chimney.

All Finnish fires have a damper system too. When the fire has finished burning, the damper is closed and the heat remains in the room rather than disappearing up the chimney!

I have had the same design of fireplace in my home for the past 10 years and despite very harsh winter conditions, sometimes as low as -36 the soapstone fireplace heats the whole house using just a couple of baskets of wood. To many of the holiday makers at Mairela it appears inconceivable that I don’t have my fire burning all day and instead light it for a few hours then close off the damper and sit and relax in the glowing warmth.

Visitors from both the UK and Alpine France have commented that they use much more firewood to heat their homes.

Soapstone Fire
Soapstone Fire | Source

Not only does the soapstone fireplace use less wood than others but because of the unique airflows it burns the wood more efficiently too. The combustion efficiency can be as high as 90% (German DIN 18891)

Pine Cones In Fire
Pine Cones In Fire | Source

Warm & Fresh Air

There is also a special feeling in a room heated by a soapstone fire, not just because of the wonderful aroma of burning wood but also because the fire makes the room air circulate in a natural way as opposed to the way central heating does. A full load in a soapstone fire will change all of the air in a house, assuming that there is no obstacle to fresh air entering the room. That is another feature of my Finnish home which amazes guests: I have open ventilation points in every room even when the outside temperature is well below zero. The Finns really understand how unhealthy it is to completely seal off your home from fresh air!

The room is aired with real fresh air but without causing draughts. Plus, the air in the room remains fresh because the soapstone walls are of an even temperature and don’t create a scorching effect.

Some of the heat from the soapstone fire is radiant and some is convective, that is, you can warm yourself by sitting directly in front of the fire (radiant) but the air flows will also be warming the upstairs and the remaining room space (convective).

The surface temperature of the fire is safer to touch than cast iron because our brains feel the heat and can remove the hand before sufficient heat has accumulated at the point of contact to burn the skin. Although it is possible to over-fire the fire.


Energy & Carbon Efficiency

Dry firewood properly burned in an oxygen rich environment is a clean burning fuel that creates little pollution. In addition, the wood ash can be added to compost as a nutrient rich and valuable fertilizer.

I also use the wood ash to make my own lye for making soap or cleaning purposes.

Much of the firewood used at our retreat is collected from the forest floor after one of the big logging companies has cleared an area. Using our efficient soapstone fire the carbon dioxide emissions are equal to or even less than those that would have been emitted if we’d left the “unwanted” wood to rot.

Firewood collecting and preparation duties are one of the jobs done by volunteer workers who come to the Retreat to be inspired by the organic gardens, the unspoilt forest, an interest in herbal and natural medicines, the animals, holistic healing or sustainable and environmentally friendly living.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)