Cast Iron or Steel Stove: Which is Best?
On your search for finding your new wood burning stove, you have probably come across many options - for example, do you want a multifuel stove? Do you need a DEFRA stove? Well, one other factor you might be considering is whether steel or cast iron wood burners are best.
The truth is, so long as you buy a good quality stove from a reputable supplier, it shouldn’t really matter whether your stove is cast iron or steel.
Afterall, beauty is only skin deep, and what is most important is that the stove is burning cleanly and efficiently - the outer material it is made from shouldn’t have a factor on this.
Nevertheless, there are some preconceptions around both cast iron and steel stoves that lead some people to think one is better than the other. There are also some slight differences that come down to personal preference; so, you might simply set your sights on one that you like more - though this doesn’t mean that it is better in terms of quality.
So, as we always like to offer you as much advice as possible on which stove you should buy, we’ve put together a quick guide to the differences between cast iron and steel stoves...
Are Cast Iron Stoves Good?
Cast iron is the traditional material used to make stoves. For this reason, cast iron is sometimes viewed as the pedigree standard of stoves, as they are strong, durable and have the desired appearance of a classic wood burning stove - but does this make them better than steel stoves?
One point of difference between cast iron stoves and steel stoves is heat retention. As cast iron is a thick and dense metal, it takes longer to heat up than steel, so you won’t feel the warmth in your room as quickly. However, the positive side of this is that it can actually retain heat for much longer. This means that after your fire goes out, a cast iron stove will continue to radiate heat into your room.
Classic stove design
As we mentioned above, cast iron stoves also have a different look and feel to steel stoves. Cast iron stoves are made by pouring molten metal into a mould, which creates their more distinctive, often more ornate, design. The sections are then bolted together, which completes the traditional stove aesthetic. They also tend to feel heavier, chunkier and have a country-type aesthetic.
Are cast iron stoves prone to cracking?
Finally, cast iron stoves are sometimes thought to be at risk of cracking under heat. This is a serious potential issue, as cracks could lead to dangerous carbon monoxide leaks.
However, how likely is it that your cast iron stove will crack? Well, not very likely. Cast iron is incredibly durable, so intense forces would have to have been exerted on the stove in order for this to happen - which can come down to incorrect installation.
Another reason why a cast iron stove might crack is over filling it with fuel or burning the fire too hot. Your stove’s manufacturer instructions should state how much fuel is required inside, so if you always ensure you don’t exceed this, your cast iron stove shouldn’t crack. To help you out further, stove thermometers are available which allow you to monitor how efficiently your fire is burning.
Are Steel Stoves Good?
Steel stoves are just as good as cast iron wood burning stoves. While very old steel stoves might have a reputation for being of lower quality than cast iron, today’s steel is just as strong and suitable for a stove. They are often more contemporary looking, though that’s not to say that you can’t find a more traditional looking steel stove.
While cast iron stoves retain heat for longer, steel stoves have their own advantage, too. As steel is thinner and less dense than iron, it can heat up much quicker. This means that when you fire up your stove, you won’t be waiting as long for the room to start heating up. While this does also mean they will cool down quicker too, steel stoves do give out just as much heat, so don’t think they will leave you less warm than a cast iron stove.
As we already touched on, steel stoves can have a more contemporary feel to them, which is perfect for more modern homes. Steel can be welded into shape, so smoother lines and sleek designs can be achieved much easier.
Can steel stoves warp?
While cast iron is sometimes thought to be prone to cracks, steel stoves are sometimes thought to be prone to warping. This is an issue as it can mean more air can enter the stove, which affects the efficiency of the burn.
However, just like with cast iron stoves, this is more often than not a sign of poor manufacturing or overheating. Providing you buy your stove from a reputable brand who offers a warranty on their product, and you follow the instructions on how to burn your fuel, a steel stove should not show signs of warping.
A Third Option? Stoves with Steel Body and Cast Doors
Finally, there is actually a third option that combines the benefits of both steel and cast iron stoves!
Many stoves are produced with a steel stove body with cast iron doors. This means the stove body can heat up quickly, while the door retains heat for after the fire has gone out. As the door is made from cast iron, you can get the look of a traditional stove from the front, too. This offers a highly versatile stove design that you could say offers the best of both worlds.
Wood Burning and Multi Fuel Stoves - Cast Iron or Steel?
From reading this article, we hope you have come to the conclusion that when it comes to choosing between a cast iron or steel wood burning or multi fuel stove, there is no one option better than the other. While there is a slight difference in design and heat retention, there is no reason to rule out either material.
Rather, we would recommend focussing on other stove features, such as efficiency, how clean they burn and whether you have the most suitable heat output for your room.
Looking for a new stove? Shop online at Direct Stoves to enjoy our extensive range with free delivery and finance options available.
For more advice, feel free to contact us to speak to our friendly sales team.
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