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Wood Cook Stoves –
Using them in an efficient way


Wood cook stoves are the most basic in cooking and heating, using only burning wood or fossil fuels as the source of heat. In less than developed countries, this is still the most common and practical method of preparing food. More advanced countries consume more energy than that of developing nations. The latter, however, focus 50% of its energy into cooking food, and the average normal family allots at least 20% of its income into purchasing wood or charcoal into cooking.
Cooking over an open fire has, however, brought about increased health problems caused by the smoke. Lung and eye ailments and birth defects are among the consequences brought about by the inhalation of smoke throughout the home. A common solution for this is replacing the traditional 3-rock cook stove with an improved one and installing a chimney or a wood hearth within the area to provide a vent or a passageway for the smoke to leave the house.
It must also be noted that deforestation and erosion are the long-term effects brought about by the use of food as a cooking fuel. Families from mostly the rural areas of Latin America rely solely on wood for cooking. The money a family spends on wood and charcoal translates to a lesser allotment on the educational and health budget of all the family members.
An improved cooking stove may be the easiest solution, but this may not always be the case. A few strategies can be observed so that fuel usage can be conserved in three of the following areas: fuel, stove, and cooking pot. The greatest gain does not come from the stove itself but how the heat produced is being used. Paying attention to the cooking pot itself and not the stove can result in large fuel savings. The use of a cooking lid reduces consumption by as much as 40%. Considering the amount saved, this change is more beneficial than buying a brand new stove. Another method is the use of a larger pot. Fact is larger pots are more efficient the smaller ones while large shallow ones are also more efficient than tall narrow ones. Lastly, when cooking for a number of people, the use of larger stoves that holds more than one pot raises efficiency to as high as 40% or even more.
In developing countries, families who rely upon wood for cooking have three ways of obtaining a better budget. They can physically search the areas where they live for firewood, purchase it from a firewood dealer, or grow their own. The disadvantage for many is that there is a shortage of harvestable firewood in the surrounding area. Those who do not have the means to buy firewood from their nearest dealer are often forced to travel several miles to obtain some. With these problems at hand, several manufacturers have provided built in features in their wood cook stove that may improve the quality of life and health to those who still use it.
Manufacturers such as Kitchen Queen and Esse reroute the passageway of heat and flue gasses to make it safer to the people in the home. Normally, gasses condense and liquefy into a sticky mess. The newer models have rerouted heat from the top resulting food cooked from the top and less than baked at the bottom. Then, heat from the top travels to the bottom to evenly spread out itself over the entire fare.
Another big difference is the reservoir. It is located on the back behind the top shelf where it will not take up any extra floor space. The water is not just heated by heat radiating from the stove. It has a stainless steel coil right in the firebox that will naturally circulate the water through the firebox and back into the reservoir. In other words, you have plenty of hot water all the time with our large 24-gallon capacity reservoir and handy tap within easy reach. No more dipping water out of a small hole. Fill your teakettle or pan with hot water right out of a faucet, like you would in the sink.
Despite recent developments, there are still those opposed to wood cook stoves. Aside form it being hotter than kerosene stoves and heaters, the smoke it creates is still relatively more than that of modern cooking gadgets. The art of using wood cook stoves is also another issue to be reckoned with. Using it is not simple and the art of utilizing it to its fullest potential is usually handed down from generations of mothers and daughters. The wood fuel to be used will depend on the kind of stove, and storing the materials requires more than usual space. On the flipside, some still crave that certain taste of food that only wood cook stoves create. Whichever way you choose the most crucial thing to remember to have a proper exhaust system in the home that these stoves require.

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