My mom used to boil the kettle, create steam baths for us kids when we were sick, keep the fresh-baked bread warm, and so many other tasks on the wood stove in our living room. It was where we gathered every morning in winter before school and I fell asleep near it on the night of Christmas Eve. Even though we had an electric stove for cooking, there was something so homey about that stove and it was a life-saver when the power went out!
Vintage and antique wood burning stoves have so much visual appeal. From curly legs to enameled finishes and built-in accessories, those iron workhorses were common in many homes well into 1950s. Modern amenities, new technology for home appliances, and the spread of electricity to even the most rural country areas meant that now most wood stoves are simply a source of supplemental heat for use in the parlor or living room.
Their superior design, quality, and function are unquestioned. But, the particulate matter they emit doesn’t meet many local environmental standards. Newer wood-burning stoves are replacing the older ones in order to reduce pollutants because the new models are more efficient. While the new designs can’t quite match the beauty of the old style stoves, they burn the wood more completely. Two studies in Montana showed that about 60% of wood stoves used by Silver Bow County residents did not meet air quality standards for emissions and they are working on replacing the old stoves with newer models.
Some of the newer stove models have a classic or old-fashioned look to them and lets hope that trend continues. The look and feel of wood burning stoves is unforgettable. And, until they’re all replaced, let’s enjoy them and the memories they bring back.