Wood Cook Stove Heating Tips

If you’ve been along with me for a little while you’ll remember the new wood cook stove that we got not too long ago. I’d mentioned that these old stoves were bad about having faulty temperature gauges, so it was hard to tell exactly how hot your oven was. Well, imagine my delight when I came across this wonderful article by Granny Miller (link removed because site is unavailable) which explains several methods for testing the temperature of a wood cook stove.

Here’s an excerpt from her site:

“Great-grandma used a used a few  different methods to judge  her oven temperature and I thought I’d share the ones I know about  with you.

To check an oven for a good baking temperature place a tablespoon of flour into a piece of oven proof crockery or glass.

If the flour turns brown in 1 minute the oven is a perfect temperature for baking – between 325ºF and  350ºF.

My personal old time favorite is the  bare hand into the oven for a count of 20.

If great-grandma could stand to have her bare hand inserted into the oven for a count to 20, the oven was hot enough to bake a cake or slow roast meat – about 350º.

If she could only take the heat to a count of  5 or 6 the oven was very hot  oven – well over 475º.

Another way  to check oven temperature without toasting your hand is to put a piece of white paper into the the oven for 5 minutes.

If the paper turns a golden brown the oven heat is medium.  If the piece of paper turns a dark brown the oven is hot.

Here’s some general guidelines for oven temperatures in case you do run into an older recipe but don’t want to fiddle with flour, paper or the flesh on your hand.

A Slow Oven: 250ºF. to 300ºF.

A Moderate Oven: 350ºF. to 400ºF.

Hot Oven:  400ºF. to 450ºF.

Very Hot Oven: 450º F.to 550ºF.”

I thought these tips were SO great!! I contacted Granny Miller to get her permission to share this info with you. I also mentioned to her that I’d heard that corn cobs were good for heating a cook stove with in the summertime as they don’t burn as hot as wood. She commented back that they are good for a quick fire, but won’t hold heat. She added that they are often soaked in kerosene, and then dried and used as a fire starter.

I am so excited about using these methods for testing the temperature of my new stove!!

For some more really great tips on using a wood cook stove, check out Granny Miller’s article Cook Stove Basics (link removed because site is unavailable). Tons of great info!!

7 thoughts on “Wood Cook Stove Heating Tips”

  1. I am in my first year on my dream farm. I am 40 miles from the city and loving it!!! The house came with a wood burning stove (not the cooking kind) and I am thinking about replacing with one that you can cook with and use to heat the house with at the same time. Is this possible? If so, could you be so kind as to point me in the right direction?? Another thing I would like to know about is drying wood. I know that wet wood burns poorly and is a chimney fire hazard. When I was buying wood, I saw another customer testing the wood with a moisture meter like the one I found here: http://www.moisturemeter.com Is this something that I should invest in? @Quakerdan: Can you use corn cobs for kindling?

    • Scott,

      Nice to meet you! Okay, so yes, you can replace your wood stove with a wood cook stove. I don’t know the comparison as far as heating efficiency between the two goes, but my husband heats his work building with our South Bend wood cook stove. I’m not familiar with all the different brands of stoves, so I really can’t say which is best. I’d read tons of reviews online before making a purchase! I’ve never seen a moisture meter for wood. I guess my husband just goes by how long the wood has been sitting, and if it has been protected from recent rains. Good luck with everything though!

  2. Cobs burn quick and hot. However, where you going to get the cobs? Few people still shell corn. We used to feed earcorn to the hogs years ago before we got smarter and started grinding feed and mixing hog feed. In those days we weren’t in any hurry to fatten a hog because “What’s time to a hog?”
    That was a kid’s job after school to go out to the hog lot and pick up the cos after the hogs had eaten the corn off. The cobs from the hog lot burn much better than the clean cobs from when we shelled corn. They didn’t smell so nice, but the manure made them burn better. I still get cobs from a neighbor who still picks and shells his corn instead of combining.

    A word of caution my wife learned when we were first married. NEVER PUT COBS ON A BURNING FIRE COMPLETELY COVERING THE FIRE. If you put cobs over hot coals, they smolder until they ignite an pop!!!! Mrs. blew the stove pipes off the stove doing this many years ago; nothing like learning the hard way.

  3. When we lived in Colorado I had the fun of cooking on a wood stove. You can make the very best tortillas on the surface of the woodstove. They come out just perfect, even better than on a cast iron griddle.
    I’m envious…
    We’re looking for a woodstove for the summer kitchen to do our canning. It would be much more economical. This past year I cooked the beets on a wood fire outside to save some $

    Mrs. D


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