Think Outside the Wood Burner

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winter and woodburnersThe winter is definitely upon us in the UP.  We’re getting saddled with snow and our wood burning stove has already begun to get its yearly workout. Considering all off the labor and effort that comes with hauling the firewood from the woods and cutting, splitting and stacking, I like to find ways to make the most out of our firewood.  After taking some time think outside of the box…  or the wood burner, I came up with a few ways that we can stretch that wood and use it for more than just keeping warm.

Cooking.  You don’t have to have a special stove for cooking.  It’s almost too easy to put a cast iron pot on the wood burner, toss in your favorite ingredients and let a meal cook itself while you work on other chores, or even overnight, while you sleep!  Think of it as your electricity free slow cooker.  And you don’t have to limit yourself to slow cooked meals either.  You can easily fry up some eggs or brown some meat over the heat of a first morning fire once you get it going.

Coffee (& tea!).  Heat up a kettle with hot water and make your coffee using a french press instead of a coffee maker.  Pour hot or just boiled water over some tea bags, or make your favorite morning beverage using a good, old-fashioned percolator.

Potpourri.  I love the scents of fancy potpourris and candles, but I don’t love the high dollar tags that often accompany them.  Instead of shelling out your hard earned money on expensive store bought scents, try your hand at making your own using items you’d normally toss in the trash or compost.  Simply add some water to a pot and toss in scraps from orange peelings, fruits or flowers.  You can even go outside and scavenge for fallen pine needles and cones and add to the pot.  Want to customize your scent?  Look no further than your spice cabinet; cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves are excellent additions.  I love to add a little eucalyptus to the water to clear winter congestion, or lavender in the evening to help us relax and doze off to dreamland.

Laundry.  When you think of heating your home, you might not think of doing laundry, but line drying your clothes by the fire is an excellent way to save energy.  Instead of running the dryer, rig up an indoor line and your clothes will be ready for folding in no time!  And don’t worry, you don’t need anything special to make an indoor line.  When I told Hubby I wanted to line dry indoors, he rigged up a simple line in no time with some old bailing twine (instructions can be found here).  The clothes are dry in no time and it saves my fingers from freezing while hanging on a line outdoors in the cold months. 

Humidifier.  It’s easy to add some humidity to the otherwise dry air that plagues us in the colder months. Just put a pot of water on the wood burner and…  you’re done!  And line drying, as mentioned above, will also add some extra moisture to the air.

Dishes.  It might sound silly, but we even heat up our hot water on the wood burner to wash our dishes. Why use your water heater or a stove top to heat up the water when you have a constant heat source that’s already going?  If you pop over to our house, you’ll likely find a large kettle of water sitting on the back of the wood burner.  It goes great with our method for washing dishes with limited water.  While we don’t dry them outside in the winter, we do still use this method inside.  
What do you think of our tips to get the most out of your wood burner?  Do you have something to add to my list?  I’d love to hear your comments!  



  1. says

    I SO wish we could have a wood stove where we live. I LOVE my parent’s wood stove. I’ve cooked on it, done the potpourri thing, and my dad puts his coffee mug on it to warm the coffee.

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