A wood stove is a great thing to have…toasty toes and a warmth that is psychologically comforting, so much better than central heating, the problem is though, they go out.
If you are relying on a solid fuel stove this is a major drawback because you get up in the morning and the house is freezing, and unlike a flick a switch system, with radiators in every room, it takes quite a while to heat the place up again.
The answer to this problem is quite simple and although it’s a little time intensive it’s well with the effort. You need to create a heat sink, a storage heater that passively takes in heat and then gives it back when the air in the room cools down – usually when the fire has gone out.
Anything that passively absorbs heat and is not combustible will work just fine. Many people use metal but that confuses me because it cools down fast, stone on the other hand does not.
Medium to large stones, bricks, breeze blocks and rocks hold heat well and pose far less of a burn risk than metals. You simply stack them up either side of the stove, and at the back if you have the space and as the stove throws out heat the rocks heat up – it really is that simple.
Think of a brick wall that has had the sun on it for a few hours, it stays warm for a good while after the sun has gone down. That’s exactly the same principle as a heat sink around a solid fuel stove.
Now rock can shatter if it goes from cold to hot too fast so make sure that the rocks aren’t touching your stove. Take the time to stack them so they’re not a collapse hazard, rocks are better in this respect because they kind of ‘lock’ into each other if you twist and turn them to find the best fit.
Not only do the stones give out heat into the room when the stove goes out, you use less fuel because the stones are heating up and putting heat out into the room all the time the stone is burning.
The top of the sink, which will be about the height of the top of the stove give or take a couple of inches, is warm enough to air up clothes and gently dry a pair of boots but not hot enough to burn them.
As a kid my grandparents would take a couple of stones they kept at the back of the range and put them in the beds to warm them up in winter, kind of poor mans water bottles…without the water and without the bottle!
They also kept a metal box at the back of the heat sink and dropped fruit peel into it to gently dry, this would then be grated and stored in jars to add to her version of yogurt, which she made in a big bowl, covered with a towel up in the corner, she’d removed a stone so the bowl rested securely and there it sat for two days…us kids watching and waiting with spoons in hand. Whilst I’m off down memory lane I recall she kept some smaller stones to drop into boots to assist with the drying process…she was a very practical woman was gran.
Now don’t get me wrong, heat sinks are great but they are not miracle workers, you are not going to get up the next morning and find the lounge is snug and cosy, but it will be warmer than it would have been by quite a stretch.
Add thick well lined curtains and a few draught dodgers and you can improve your lot no end, especially if the winters are harsh where you are
I may have mentioned it just once or twice before but I hate the cold, this is another way that helps me ‘trap’ heat that would otherwise have been wasted.