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Country Talk Discussion Board

Re: .... Woodstock Soapstone stoves

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Posted by Morgan Tryana Lintereur on November 25, 2004 at 14:47:21 from (

In Reply to: .... Woodstock Soapstone stoves posted by Gary, Mt. Hermon, La on November 26, 2002 at 07:08:10:

Back in 1980, after spending many hours in a lousy basement just to be able to sit in front of the wood furnace we had installed (which turned out to be too large for our small house, which can be worse and actually more dangerous than buying one that is too small!) just to enjoy the wonderful radiant heat, I took it in hand to find a woodstove to put upstairs. We had the perfect place for it - an unused dining room sitting right in the middle of house next to the chimney that went up thru the center of the house.

Back then, the market was absolutlely flooded with woodstove companies, so I dug in and did my homework. It quickly became clear to me that only a soapstone stove would do. My overly-frugal (i.e. cheapskate) husband just about had a bird when he saw that the price of the stove that I wanted was nearly $1,000. His choice was a genuine Korean cast iron model from a local discount store for $200.

A little warning here: if you do decide to go with cast iron, make very sure that it is made in the U.S. Lots of knock-offs are coming from overseas, where little or no thought is being given to proper tempering of the metal, resulting in cast iron that is too porous. There are reports of these products literally falling apart in place when they are loaded up and heated to a high temperature. Bye, bye, house. How much money did you save again?! Further, with a cast iron stove when the fire goes out, you KNOW it. The heat is G-O-N-E gone.

Not so with the soapstone. I used to load up the fairly small firebox at about 10 pm. At 6am the following morning, although the fire was out, there was still enough residual heat to keep the house relatively comfortable. In the woodstove realm, you DO get what you pay for. This is not a place to save money. Quit smoking, become a vegeatarian, drive less, etc, if you feel you must save money, but DO NOT go cheap on a woodstove. Stick with a reputable U.S. manufacturer. Nothing against Jotul and the other reputable imports, but in that case you are paying for snob appeal and sky-high shipping costs.

We did buy the soapstone stove, a model for smaller homes that had just come out that year. It was everything promised and more. While I have not lived in that house from more than twenty years now, I am told that Mr. Frugal loves to brag about his beautiful woodstove and what a smart buy it was, especially after all these years. So to answer your question, yes, the soapstone is well worth the extra money. Cast iron just doesn't compare. In the long run, the soapstone will save you money simply by needing less wood to provide the same level of heat/comfort, whether you buy your wood or have to haul your own wood and buy gas and oil for your chainsaw. Bon chance on your decision.

P.S. When comparing soapstone stoves, total stove weight is a good comparison factor. The heavier the stove is, the more soapstone it contains, which makes for a higher quality stove (more heat retention). Recently informed that my oil furnace is on its' last leg, I have decided to replace it with a gas-fired soapstone stove. Having been wheel-chair bound for ten years now, my wood-hauling days are over. But after looking at the estimate for a new furnace, a soapstone stove will cost less and become a beautiful, more comfortable addition to my home. The gas models even come with remote control thermostats, so if I want a tad more heat, I can sit in my chair and just push a button. Now living on an island in the North Atlantic where power outages can be frequent and prolonged, these little beauties require no electricity whatsoever. You just can't lose with soapstone stoves. Incidentally, the company did not pay me to write this. The companies that produce these wonderful products deserve all the praise they get. Most folks are very quick to complain about what they don't like, yet rarely speak up about the positive stuff.....

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