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First steps to wood burning cooker - seeking advice

My partner and I have had enough of huge fuel bills (made worse by having consciences and going for green tariffs!) and have decided it's time to start working towards getting a wood-burning cooker in the kitchen to cook on (obviously) and provide heating and hot water.

We've no idea how to get beyond the aspiration stage we're at right now, and are particularly keen to find out stuff like where to look, what to go for - we were thinking exclusively wood-burning, because fossil fuels are what we're trying to get away from now for everything but our household appliances like TV and computers.

I'm on disability benefits, so am wondering if there might be some grant money available to apply for. And whether second-hand is a good idea, say looking on eBay, or even if people throw these wonderful devices out, and if so where - you never know, people can be really daft! Smile

But when they're advertised for next to nothing with, say, 'cracked boilers' are such things repairable?

So yeah, open season on experiences and suggestions and ideas, please! And thank you.

A lot to choose from! Reconditioned secondhand Rayburns, for instance, are about half the price of news one. Rayburns aren't perhaps the most efficient but they last a long time and spares are easily available.

There are a lot of models to choose from and they'll be plenty of people here offering advice. At the moment we don't cook on a woodburner so can't offer practical advice.

a cracked boiler is a problem but a burned out grate or broken hinge is not
second hand is fine and there are many in use at 100yrs plus
you will probably need a flue liner
you will need wood store,tools etc
some will run several radiators as well as hot water ,cooking and local heat
there are different types for coal .coke,wood,peat ,pellet etc
fancy modern ones have a heat exchanger for warm air heating

I'd say a rayburn. We have a rayburn-analogue called a 'Hunter' and aren't finding it all that satisfactory.

Rayburn boilers are expensive.
One for mine is 800.
As Dpack says the other things like grates etc you can usually source quite cheap.
I would only consider woodburning if I had my own cheap source of fuel.
Buying logs can be more expensive than coal in certain areas so I would say a chainsaw is an essential tool as well.
Joiners yards & the like are usually glad to get rid of offcuts, I used to fuel mine on nothing but & a few larger logs to keep it in at night. Smile

cracked boiler - steer clear
worn out firebricks can be quite expensive to replace - ISTR being quoted about 90 per brick at one point.

Cooking on wood takes a little getting used to, but we now love it. Apart from those awkward days when nothing on earth can persuade the fire to draw, of course Rolling Eyes, but fortunately they're few and far between.

I can't help with makes, as ours has not got a back boiler (hence we're installing a stove (enclosed wood fire with glass door) with back boiler for that), but a search on the internet should bring up plenty to choose from. Word of caution; many new ones are made "light weight" which is actually not what you want from such a piece of kit.

The biggest piece of advice I can give you is when looking at stoves on ebay make sure you go along and see the stove, dont just buy from the pictures. I looked at one quite a distance away, it was supposed to have been re-enamelled but, the chap had painted it with enamell paint, so when it got hot the paint would have been soft.

I used to have a oil rayburn royal and now have a wood fired one, I have a source of free fuel and can keep the fire going all winter without going out. I cook everyday on it, they do take some learning to drive but, once that is achieved it feels great cooking a roats dinner or good old Yorkshire pudding!!!!


My experience of cooking on a woodburner / solid fuel stove has been that tehre is only one heat setting for both the top plate and the ovens

(please feel free to offer other views)

hence this has an impact on what you can cook using both together i.e. meals.

Hot top (for boiling / frying) = hot oven
Oven temp suitable for slow casseroles / pot roasts, but will not boil water on the hotplate or fry quickly

Older models : the oven temp achieved can bear no relation to what you have turned the dial to >>> trial and error

I still can't bake in my Rayburn, and have to use the electric oven.
Mochyn is a stove-baking expert

Laughing Laughing Laughing Thanks, Gil!

Our very elderly Rayburn Royal is lovely. I'm still learning after 6 years, though: we use Anthracite but I'm considering changing to wood. Problem with wood is supply: it's not cheap, you need a HUGE amount so need a good-sized storage area which is dry, and it need to be good quality stuff: seasoned (unless it's ash) hardwood. Soft woods will bung up your chimney and I don't think they burn hot enough for baking. The woodburning stove in the parlour (Clearview) stays in overninght with no problems, but it is a classy bit of kit and new. I've yet to try the Rayburn on wood so I don't know how it would be overnight: anthracite is fine though. There are, as has been said, days when the old girl just won't play: wrong wind/atmoshperic pressure. Of course, these are usually on what should be baking days...

What you need most is patience.

Patience and practice!!!

I bake almost every week in my rayburn. Yesterday I made a viki sponge and a sticky ginger cake.

I have found that the temp does vary inside the oven, I put slow cooking on the oven floor, cakes on the second set of runners up with the stove set to the middle of 'bake' and the same place for roasts but the stove on 'roast'. If the oven is slightly too hot I either use the cold plain shelf or a picece of foil to stop the top of the cake burning.
Small logs are great for bakling with, I also use chibbly bits from a friend who makes picture frames, these are great for raising the temp without boiling the water too much. This last winter was whern I felt that I had finally got to grips with the cooking etc on the rayburn, I have been using it now for about 4 years. My other cooking facilities are a 5 ring gas hob and a one of those combi microwaves, but I hate using that, Im just not keen on electric cooking.

Gareth's mum has a very old Stanley that had spent at least 20 years in a field before she rescued it. Lovely to cook on once you are used to it Smile
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