Wood burning stove or propane stove??? Need advice...

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

My husband & I are in a disagreement over which one to purchase. We are able to get a great deal (buying either at cost) on a wood burning or propane stove. The wood burning is more expensive up front (maybe $300 at most) but we can get all the wood we need for free. As for the propane we would have to buy for at least .90 per gallon and that would only last us about 500 hours. My husband wants the propane because it is less work to install and everyone has told him the wood burning is too "dirty". I want the wb because I could cook on top of it and we would have unlimited heat! I am concerned that the price of propane could greatly increase or that we may not even be able to get it. Any feedback is GREATLY appreciated. I am not trying to 'gang up' on my husband but we do have 2 children to keep warm & feed.

-- Homeschool Mom (mkuhn@fuse.net), March 12, 1999


Dear HM,

I vote for the wood burning stove. In fact, just ordered one today. If things got really bad, how would you get propane ongoing? Wood is cheap or free in the country. Plus I'm inherently cautious around invisible things that can go 'KABOOM' like propane.

One other thing if things got that bad that we return to a early time of living, IMHO a wood burning stove is more picturesque. Plus you can heat water for bathing as well as cooking.

BTW, if you got a wood burning stove may I ask where you plan to purchase it? tia

-- Texan (cozy@ranch.com), March 12, 1999.

Having owned both types "Wood Fireplace Insert" and Propane heater, I would choose the wood.

1) Wood Fuel is easy to comeby even if things get really bad.

2) My old Wood insert could heat a 2200 sq foot house with no problem.

3) Wood ash can be used in the garden and compost heap

4) My propane system always had that "gas" smell.

5) Personal opinion wood smoke is OK in small ammounts.


1) Wood smoke can be seen by others, Gas is "quiet"

2) You do have to clean out the ashes (use a paper bag, and fold it shut when you are through filling it. Make sure that the stove is COLD before cleaning)

3) You need a spark to start it, make sure you have matches!!

4) You need to clean the flue on a regular basis.

5) It is desirable to have both Hard and Soft woods for starting, quick heatups, and long overnights.

I would pick the Wood, but again that is a personal choice.


-- helium (helium@avid.com), March 12, 1999.

Wood stove if fuel available. Propane as backup. Got snowed in and then flooded in and used both. Wood is my choice. Used only one chord of almond for heat since October. Have a small house, 600 sq ft, and we were very comfortable. March now and only need fire in evenings.

-- Mark Hillyard (foster@inreach.com), March 12, 1999.

Thanks for all the feedback......now to convince my husband :) We are buying the stove from a good friend of my husbands who owns a pool business and sells this kind of stuff in the winter. He just happens to have one of each left on the floor and has offered whichever one we want at his cost. I was suprised because everyone has told me that they were hard to find and that even ordering one could take 6-8 months. I think it just means we were meant to have one!

Thanks again!

-- Homeschool Mom (mkuhn@fuse.net), March 12, 1999.

Homeschool Mom:

Today I received my simple cast iron stove, which was manufactured in China yet sold by a TN wholesaler. I chose this stove over the propane type because I believe America will get hit with a MASSIVE DEPRESSION, which shall shock the entire world. Propane is cheap, but storage tanks are necessary. In my tiny cosmos in RentaLand, propane is out of the question. I lived in a heavily wooded county in northwestern Ohio, and wood is everywhere for the chopping. If I had wealth, I would have large propane tanks installed below ground, but that won't happen on my budget. I have a new chainsaw, which worked well on my trial-sawing of a fallen elm tree on my grandmother's western yard, so I am planning on stocking up on gasoline with stabilizer additives to chainsaw continually.

My mother lives out in the country, and there are numerous fallen trees which can be cut for burning wood. I hope to sever them when the winter weather moderates and the ground is not excessively muddy.

I plan on using the cast iron stove to cook and heat the house when the electricity fails or becomes too expensive. I have a bicycle with wire baskets which I can load with hewn wood, so I'm preparing for the Great Depression Part Two. I don't know if you're on my level of preparation, but I want to stress that when the stock market crashes, MANY AMERICANS will be totally shocked. They won't believe it, and THEY WON'T BE PREPARED. At least you GI and are considering appropriate measures. Discuss the realities with your spouse. This is very important. Don't ever lie. Tell your spouse what you feel from your heart. May God bless you.

-- dinosaur (dinosaur@williams-net.com), March 12, 1999.

We got a wood stove and have been heating with it all winter. The trick was to keep the house (2600 sq ft) under 80 degrees if the outside temperature was over 40. (Finally figured it out).

There are certain considerations not mentioned above about this beast. It weights 700 pounds and reaches 600 degrees. A proper setting for it is very important (we don't have a fireplace, so it's free-standing). Also, cutting wood with a hand saw and splitting it with an axe and wedges is a real pain. As a compromise, I got a chain saw and I don't cut wood larger in diameter than the stove will take (about 9 inches). But it does have an EPA rating of 75% efficiency (thanks to a catalytic smoke burner) and no visible smoke comes out the chimney (stovepipe) except when starting a new fire. But I've only needed to start the fire twice this year -- the first time in the fall, and again after I left town for a few days.

Also, be aware that wood takes a lot of room to store. I'll go through 5 cords this winter, in northern Alabama. Five cords takes up a lot of room. And yes, you'll need to dust a lot, no matter how well sealed the stove seems to be.

But you will be toasty warm, and you can definitely cook on it. A wood stove is not just decorative (though it looks really nice). It's a solid appliance.

-- Flint (flintc@mindspring.com), March 12, 1999.

Mom, one point to consider is that wood smoke can cause allergies, especially to kids. If yours are very young, that could be a concern.

I am allergic to wood smoke and we have found that if someone other than me tends the fire, that takes care of a whole lot of the problem.

A website that is strongly concerned about this and a quote from them: WOODSMOKE BURNINGISSUES.COM DOCUMENTS ITS HEALTH PROBLEMS

The threat to human health comes from the fine particulate matter - tiny particles 200 times smaller than raindrops Several epidemiological studies have concluded that inhaling wood smoke particulate matter increases the incidence, duration and severity of respiratory disease, striking hardest at children, the elderly and those with lung or heart disorders.

-- Rosana (rh@fone.net), March 12, 1999.

Mom; If you choose propane, buy a product called something like "Leak Detec" and check all connections between tank and stove frequently.It is soapylike and bubbles up at the slightest leak. If you choose wood,order 8 cord now if you are at a northern location. Best to have wood dried for at least a year or more to avoid smoulder and creasote in the chimney and to get maximum BTU's. You may need a cord or more every 2 weeks during a cold winter and it would be nice to keep the frost out of your family's bones til spring. All best wishes,

-- Watchful (seethesea@msn.com), March 12, 1999.

Homeschool Mom I too went through a similar struggle over whether to use propane or woodstove or what? We researched it and were troubled by the fine print on these warning labels of propane, kerosene, coleman fuel. Oh, the toxic by-products and health problems that might result over a period of time. I didn't feel good about exposing to young or old to such gas/vapor. Well, we finally found an alternative safe fuel which is odorless, non-carcinogenic, and non-explosive. Been around a long time. It looks like Sterno, but it is not. No alcohol. Unlimited shelf life. One can burns for 6 hours, flash point is 225 degree, 990 BTU's. Not bad for home use to warm food, water and some cooking. I compared it with Alco-brite and I like Alcoa too, but it gets so hot it can easily burn you.

Anyway, since I have a vitamin business, I might as well buy it wholesale for my family and close friends. If you or anyone has a health concern and must consider a safer alternative, call me at 650-634-0308 till 9pm Mon-Sat. or email hth@earthlink.net. Without looking at it, it will probably be less than $2.00 a can( has a wick inside). I am negotiable. We will only sell by the case. I heard they are selling by the hundreds everyday. I also carry a collapsible metal stove (single or double) $9.95 for dual stove. There's also S & H and unlike many mail order, we don't jack this up. Frankly, I made very low margin on these Y2K items including the above and water barrels, Nippon AM FM solar radio, etc. I want to sleep well with a good conscience.

-- Anne (hth@earthlink.net), March 12, 1999.

Homeschool Mom,

We have both propane (fireplace insert) & a wood stove (circulating- type). We also have an air-to-air heat pump. Only occasionally do we use the fireplace insert &/or the heat pump. We love the wood stove! Nothing heats the old bones like wood heat!

IMHO, the fact that you have all the free wood you can use (I'm green with envy) seals the decision. Placement of the wood stove is the key to heating your house effectively.

Smoke is an issue only if you burn green, unseasoned wood. Put your foot down & go for the wood stove! You'll be glad you did.

Best of luck to you & your loved ones.

-- Bingo1 (howe9@pop.shentel.net), March 12, 1999.

If you want to cook on your wood stove, make sure it is designed for cooking! Many wood stoves will heat a room, but never get hot enough on top to boil water.

-- justmy (justmy@2cents.worth), March 12, 1999.

If you go with propane, price a thousand galon tank and fill. then see what your municipality will allow on one lot. You may find that 1000 hours of runtime will not be allowed on your lot.

-- Chuck, a night driver (reinzoo@en.com), March 12, 1999.


we bought a slow woodburning fireplace insert in October, and I'm real happy with it. I am the one who operates it, as hubby is at work all day. I don't find it "dirty". Sure, there's the ashes, but the one I got has a tray at the bottom and it's so easy to clean. Takes me 1 minute to sweep the little bit of ashes and wood dust that fall on the floor when I feed the stove. I empty the ashpan when it's full, usually after 3 days of use, into a metal trashcan next to my backdoor steps. It's really absolutely no hastle to me, once the wood was corded. I love the atmosphere and warmth of woodstove and fireplaces, so to me it's worth it even without the other benefits.

I wanted to get a standing woodstove in our den too, for more warmth, as the house is big, and for cooking too. Hubby balked hard at this, as we'd need to build a chimney. So for cooking, I'm relying on a coleman propane stove and bb-q grill. Don't know yet what I'll do for baking. Prolly solar and dutch ovens.

If you don't mind taking care of the stove yourself, that might sway your husband. He might not like cording and fetching the wood though ;-) I have 3 kids, and all 5 of us help with that, so it's no big chore for anyone.

-- Chris (Catsy@pond.com), March 13, 1999.

Home school mom!!! I would like to see you cook on your woodstove next july! You will die from the heat in your home!!! Get both, so you can use the coleman in the summer, in your kitchen or in your backyard!!!

-- Freddie the Freeloader (freddie@aol.com), March 13, 1999.

I would heat with wood and cook with Propane or even charcoal. Charcoal can be made easy enough. Using propane wisely though a 100lb tank will last you months.I used propane for years and truly think it is the way to go. I have both a wood stove and propane stove. (and oven)


-- Brian (imager@ampsc.com), March 13, 1999.

Agree with Brian. A simple propane cookstove (no electric at all) can cost as little as $200+ new. Cooking on most (non-cooking specialized) wood stoves is very slow and uncomfortable; wood cookstoves are great but require a large and permanent change in lifestyle. They are also very expensive (good ones). For $600 or so, you can get a fine woodstove (used) and propane cook stove.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), March 13, 1999.

It wasn't clear if you wanted the stove for a heat source or for cooking, with heat as a supplemental bonus. We heat soley with wood- two stoves. They work great- and our temps go into the minus 30, 40 and below range in winter! Woodstoves are work though- they say wood warms you several times- when you cut it, split it, haul it and burn it, or something like that. It IS messy. But- it's a renewable resource and you CAN get wood for free (or grow your own) Not so for propane. We use a propane cookstove ourselves- especially handy for summer. BUT- I have an old wood cookstove we're going to fix up one of these days.... and if we couldn't get propane, I'd be fine with the woodcooking. So- given a choice of both types- go with the wood and ask an experienced local to check out the instalation and make sure you know how to operate it safely. Also- keep a Chimfex stick close by- just in case. They're aprox ten bucks- and can save your house in the event you have a chimney fire. We keep several around, had to use one once, and gave them out as holiday presents one year! Good luck and enjoy your heat!

-- anita (hillsidefarm@drbs.com), March 13, 1999.

Anita --- is chimfex a type or a brand name? Can I get it at Walmart kind of places? Thanks.

-- BigDog (BigDog@duffer.com), March 14, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ