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The Frugal Homemaker - Cook Wood Stove & Alternative Energy

Updated on January 26, 2013
My Oval Cook Stove
My Oval Cook Stove

Oval Cookstove

Cooking and heating our home with our Oval cookstove has been a great experience. It may sound backwards to some, but I believe its actually progressive. Living a frugal lifestyle isn't just about saving some cash, its about going beyond modern technology which requires a lot of wasteful energy; like batteries, excessive electricity usage, and dirty energy to discover ways to accomplish the same things while protecting the environment to the best of our knowledge and ability and your wallet. Modern technology is dumbing us down in many ways, the most concerning is the valuable life skills we have lost, how to grow food for example which has made us more dependent and less able to truly look after ourselves. Society as a whole has left life sustaining things like food production and water preservation in the hands of big corporations in exchange for less participation on our part, freeing up more time to participate in modern technology which can facilitate a sedentary lifestyle. Gone are the days where most people got regular exercise and a free workout by doing what was necessary to survive. The natural consequence of farming, self imposed mandatory gardening, wild crafting, gathering wood for heat and cooking provided us with exercise. As a rule, people got up early in the mornings and went to bed early, intuitively following their natural circadian rhythm. Having our cookstove has created a way for all family members to be actively involved in it's care and maintenance. Cutting and splitting wood, stacking wood and carting wood naturally encourages exercise and some basic education on heating a home with alternative fuels and meal preparation without always relying on the use of electricity.

Spring Rolls Frying on Cook Stove Top
Spring Rolls Frying on Cook Stove Top
Ready To Serve
Ready To Serve

Wood Heat

Heating with wood is not what it use to be, new wood burning technology make wood stoves 60 to 80% efficient at turning properly seasoned wood into heat. Fast growing trees that can be used as fuel can reach 30 feet in height withing 3 years, unlike Christmas tree that are farmed which take between 8 -12 years to harvest.

Heating with wood is definately cheaper if you cut and split your own. Having your own wood lot is a bonus, but if this is not possible sharing a wood lot is another way to manage your wood supply requirements. With the exception of needing a chain saw which uses gasoline to take down or cut a tree into manageable pieces, you don't need anything heroic to shop wood. We don't own or use a gas driven wood splitter, a simple splitting maul does the trick and provides hours of fun and exercise in the outdoors.

I'm not going to get into the pitfalls of wood heat in this Hub. Wood burning like other any other method of heating has its problems. Wood burning is not for everyone and not for every location. Living in Canada, especialy where I am, it can get very cold for extended periods of time. I always tell the kids, even though its cold outside, it doesn't give us the right to maintain a temperature indoors that is "extremely" disproportionate to the outdoors (unless of course its -40 out there). This is why we have sweaters and slippers. Same thing goes in the summer, we don't have air conditioning because it expensive and uses up electricity, but also sensitises you to an unrealistic temperature which can make going outdoors uncomfortable and sometimes intolerable.

Wood Cookstove Cook Books

Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range
Woodstove Cookery: At Home on the Range

I really like this book! Back to basics


Being Self Sufficient

Living a little on the frugal side of life challenges you to learn new concepts and create! Having a cook stove does more than just heat your home and give you tons of space to cook on, it inspires you to cook from scratch or at least cook at home more often. It encourages you learn more about how you heat your home and figure out ways to be more self-sufficient. On occasions when you have to do without electricity due to power outages and yes even government sanctioned rolling black outs, think back to the summer of 2003 and the Northeast Blackout when widespread power outage affected Northeastern and Midwestern United States and Ontario, Canada, boil water advisories, disruption to Cellular Phone service and loss of power during a serious heatwave affected approximately 10 million people in Ontario and 45 million people in eight U.S. states. We also muddled through the ice storm of 2003 for several days without electricity. At that time we had a Vermont Castings stove which let us heat our home, prepare meals and melt ice for flushing toilets, I was grateful for being able to remain in our own home during this crisis.

First Turkey Cooked In Our Oval
First Turkey Cooked In Our Oval | Source

Alternative Heating - Water Jacket and Holding Tank

Adding a water tank to your cookstove gives you another way to help cut down on your electricity bill. We have ours set up on a thermosyphon,system, no need for electricity. The wood stove is going around the clock in our home, acting as our main source of heat,why not capitalize on this by having it pre-heat the water that is in the hot water tank, the water jacket can boil a 40 gallon water tank in an hour. When we turn on any source of hot water in the house, the tank siphons off the water from the holding tank attached to the cook wood stove and sends already heated water into the electric hot water tank, reducing the amount of electricity required to keep the tank hot and warm up a depleted tank. If you take a look at the photo at the top of this page, you can see our green hot water holding tank and copper pipes on the wall behind the stove.

Our Oval stove also has a reservoir on the side with a tap. This feature is great fro having a stash of hot water available at all times. This water is best used for washing dishes and other household cleaning. If it’s not used outside the reservoir it becomes a humidifier.

More Wood Cookstove Cook Books

Homemade Curry Soup
Homemade Curry Soup | Source


Our wood cookstove runs all winter long, so there is always opportunities for a hot cup of tea or coca, and some warm bread. The Oven is always hot, no need for a microwave! The warming oven above is a great place to keep things warm while you are waiting for other things to finish up on the cook top or in the oven.

No more dedicating your meals to 4 burners, our cook top can accommodate 6 to 8 pots and pans at a time. I often use a cast iron griddle to make breakfast, it can accommodate 8 grilled cheese sandwiches at a time.

The top rack in my Oval is the best place for browning and broiling food. Baking bread in a cook stove is nothing short of amazing, golden crisp crust done easily if that's what your looking for. I really like using a cast iron wok on the cook stove. I remove a cover and sit the wok in the hole, easy stir-fry, and frying in oil when necessary (not promoting fried food - but take a look above at the crispy spring rolls we made).

Even More Wood Cookstove Cook Books

After Reading This Hub

Would you consider a wood cookstove in your home?

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Chai Tea Brewing In A Cast Iron Enameled Pot On Top Of The Cookstove
Chai Tea Brewing In A Cast Iron Enameled Pot On Top Of The Cookstove


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  • profile image

    leelee66 5 years ago

    I want those spring rolls:)Great writing:)

  • earthybirthymama profile image

    earthybirthymama 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Hi Homesteadpatch and whizzer,

    Thanks for the comments, I'm really grateful for my cookstove. We haven't fired her up yet too warm here, but I suspect in a week or two we'll be almost ready for Christmas baking.

  • whizzer profile image

    whizzer 6 years ago from Ireland

    That is a great hub! We have a domestic solid fuel range that runs on turf and timber but it's not a patch on yours! I'm envious.

  • homesteadpatch profile image

    homesteadpatch 6 years ago from Michigan

    A wood fired cook stove is incredibly useful to have. Great hub!