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Friday, May 6, 2016

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  •  Top Down Fire

            Take a Tour of the Absolute Steel Hybrid

            Absolute Steel - Charcoal & Brown
            Our new Absolute Steel Hybrid Stove is shipping, and we think now is a good time to give you a tour of what is going on - both inside, and outside.

            Absolute Steel - Soapstone Lined Firebox
            The Absolute Steel Hybrid has a firebox that is completely lined with soapstone.  The stove has a large ash grate in the center of the floor of  the firebox. There are diagonal slots in the grate to make it easy to slide an ash rake across the surface.  

            The firebox is 19” inches deep, from the soapstone inside the loading door, to the soapstone wall opposite the door.
            the firebox.

            Two removable andirons sit behind the front window.  They extend up above the firebrick 8” to 9” inches.  The front soapstone liner is tapered to direct the air-wash down into the coal bed.

            Absolute Steel Decorative Front Panel
            Moving along to the outside, the decorative front panel on the Absolute Steel Hybrid is held in place by a thick trim band (see picture).  The top has a complementary design on every model except the “Great Plain” (hence the name).  We will post additional color combinations shortly.     
            Absolute Steel Top (Wildwood Model)

            The metallic brown detail on a charcoal base is one combination we are particularly fond of.

            Like her brother, the Ideal Steel Hybrid, the Absolute Steel Hybrid has a bypass damper that “interlocks” with the side loading door.  You have to open the bypass before you can open the loading door.

            The loading door is completely lined with soapstone, so it feels like a bank vault door (strong and sturdy), and, more importantly, it makes the entire firebox completely lined in soapstone.  This lining helps to maintain high temperatures and insure complete combustion.   
            Absolute Steel Loading Door


            The first of many Absolute Steel Hybrid stoves has shipped today, it is an exciting time here at the factory.  Stay tuned for more pictures, more information, and more excitement!

            Thursday, May 5, 2016

            Absolute Steel Hybrid is in Production!

            We have been anxiously anticipating the first day of production on our Absolute Steel Hybrid Stove, the stoves that are going into the homes of our customers.  And, it's here!!  The welders are very busy creating an amazing hybrid stove that will heat your home with emissions of 0.5 gm/hr.

            Welder Creating an Absolute Steel Stove
            We have been waiting for the U.L. Listing Labels, they have arrived - just today.  We are printing the Bills of Lading, scheduling the shipping and getting ready to crate the Woodstock Soapstone Absolute Steel Hybrid Stoves.  It is a flurry of activity around here.

            The first stoves to ship will be the Wildwood Model, with the doors on the right side.  We are expecting the Wildwood Model with the doors on the left side to ship in a few weeks.

            Wildwood Right-Side Door















            The steel has been fashioned into the stove boxes, the artwork has been cut.  The andirons are lined up and ready to go.  Stoves are getting painted and hybrid combustion chambers are getting installed.

            Absolute Steel Stove Body Boxes

            If you are in our area, please stop in and take a tour of the factory!  We are open Monday thru Saturday, 9:00 to 5:00.  We would love to show you all of the activity that is going on.

            Absolute Steel Andirons


























            Celebrate Cinco de Mayo with Us - Ideal Steel Steal of the Month

            May is upon us, and we are in a celebratory mood here at the Woodstock Soapstone Company.  May brings us, among other holidays, Cinco de Mayo.  Our Ideal Steel Steal of the month honors our Southern Neighbors who are commemorating a military victory over France, which happened on May 5, 1862.  “This was a real David versus Goliath situation that inspired Mexicans at home and in the U.S.” (NBC News) 

            To show our appreciation of the Mexican culture, we have created artwork comprising a collection of ancient Mexican themes, including; Incan, Aztec and Mayan imagery.

            Aztec Sun CUL016 - Click to Enlarge

            Get the benefit of great savings, and join us in our celebration of Cinco de Mayo, by purchasing our Ideal Steal of the Month.  You can enjoy looking at this beautiful artwork on your Woodstock Soapstone Ideal Steel Stove.  Don’t delay; this special event pricing will not last long.  This special pricing ends at the end of the month of May.   


            I want a metallic brown stove with black accents to show-off the Mexican theme of this collection. What colors will you be choosing?

            Tuesday, April 19, 2016

            It's A Fire Sale! (of the Finest Kind)


            You asked, and we listened.  It’s been a while since we’ve featured our “catalytic stars” with a sale this big!  This occasion has come about because we have a substantial hybrid woodstove backorder, and we need to reorganize and expand our steel fabrication operations.  Turning finished inventory into funds, manufacturing space, and capital equipment is the order of the day!  Inventory of these three soapstone models is very limited.  Call today to inquire about available colors, 1-800-866-4344.

            Click to Enlarge

            Tuesday, April 12, 2016

            How to build a shoulder-season fire in a cold stove, with virtually no emissions and no effort or maintenance after you light the match! (Part 2)


            There are some very respectable technical and scientific reasons why a “top down” fire works best when staring a cold stove.  Here are a few reasons:

            First:  The distribution of oxygen to the hottest spot is better in a “top down” start-up.  Complete combustion requires adequate oxygen, and when the fire is top down, adequate oxygen is always available.  In a bottom up fire, there is likely to be less O2 at the hottest point, and there is a chance the fire can be suffocated as wood is loaded on the top of the fire.

            Second:  Less heat is lost in a “top down” start-up.  Clean combustion requires high heat. In a top down fire, as the bigger pieces at the bottom are heated up, the gasses they give off are consumed by the small hot fire at the top.  This is good combustion design!  In a bottom up fire, the gasses from the bottom pieces are cooled by coming in contact with the wood above them.

            Third:  No need to add wood or re-stoke the fire in a “top down” start-up.  Not only does this mean no work for the operator, it also means that the wood at the bottom is heated more consistently, the air-to-fuel ratio is not subjected to sudden changes, and exhaust gasses are heated, rather than cooled.   In a bottom up fire, when you add wood, the airflow is changed, the fire is cooled off (by opening the door and adding unheated wood), and more unburned gasses are created.

            Fourth:  Having hot coals at the top in a “top down” start-up is a great thing!  The radiant energy from those hot coals heats the wood beneath them.   Gasses from the wood beneath them are burned as they pass through the hot coals.  In a bottom up fire, the hot coals are at the bottom of the fuel load, so they can’t contribute to burning gasses from the wood above them.


            Four Stages of a Top Down Fire
            Click on Picture to Enlarge

            Why Woodstock Soapstone Stoves are totally clean burning almost immediately with “top down” start-up fires.

            Remember that when you build a “top down” start-up fire, you are maintaining the heat of the fire to the maximum extent.  You are not quenching the fire by opening the door, adding wood, or limiting the supply of oxygen.  There are two big reasons why we are able to clean up emissions almost immediately after light-off.

            1.  Our catalytic combustors are made of a very thin, high tech stainless steel material called Durafoil®.  The Durafoil is just 50 microns thick; about the same thickness as a human hair.  This ultra-thin material heats up very quickly, enables the catalyst to react with the exhaust gasses, and ignite very quickly.  We have been able to get our catalysts to ignite easily in five minutes or less using a “top down” fire and dry kindling. 

            2.  Our hybrid stoves supply secondary air through a flat, perforated, stainless steel fireback, and are able to achieve secondary combustion within minutes of lighting a “top down” start-up fire.   A “top down” start-up fire creates the maximum amount of start-up heat.  The kindling flames high in the firebox are more than adequate to initiate secondary combustion.

            To sum up our story, if you have a Spring Chill in your home, cool at night but warm enough during the day, try using the "top down" start-up method to start your fire.   You should find your stove will heat up faster to ward off that chill, and your fire will burn longer and cleaner.  And, you can astound your friends and family with your pyrotechnic expertise.  





            Monday, April 11, 2016

            How to build a shoulder-season fire in a cold stove, with virtually no emissions, and no effort or maintenance after you light the match! (Part 1)


            We are now in the “shoulder season”, where we have warm days and cold nights.  There’s no need to burn the stove all day – it is a waste of wood, and the house will be too warm during the day when the sun is out.

            The most efficient way to heat with wood, during this time of year, is to build a fire in the early evening and then let it go out.  Here is a simple, efficient way to build a “top down” fire that will not need tending, and will keep the house warm from late afternoon through bed-time (and through the night, if you want, just add wood before bed).

            First:  Check to make sure you have adequate chimney draft before building a fire.  To check the draft, hold a lit match or lighter up towards the bypass opening of the stove, if the flame pulls up, you have adequate draft.  If the flame is neutral or is pushed away from the exit, you will want to make sure you establish a draft before building a fire.  To establish a draft, you will want to preheat the chimney with a lighted twist of newspaper held under the bypass door.

            Second:  Put three short pieces (14’’-16”) front to back (North to South in stove-speak) behind the glass.  Placement of these pieces allows the air from the airwash to go under the rest of the wood, all the way to the back of the stove.  Insert some newspaper and small pieces of kindling in between these three pieces of wood.

                          Tip:  We save dry construction lumber for kindling (2x4s, or cut up old pallets).  Small thin pieces from the woodpile get added to the kindling supply, because small pieces will dry out quickly.

            Third:  Place three pieces of split wood across the bottom layer (East to West in stove-speak). Again, fill in the spaces with some loose newspaper and dry kindling.  This second layer of split pieces makes a platform for the third and final layer.  This platform should be 6”-8” above the floor of the stove.

            Fourth:  Build a small kindling “tented bonfire” on top of the second layer.  This “tented bonfire” should consist entirely of small pieces of split kindling – the drier (and smaller), the better.  As you build this kindling bonfire, put some newspaper in the middle.

            Finally, open the damper all the way, light the fire, and watch! 

            If you have one of our new hybrid woodstoves, and you are using dry kindling, you can close the bypass damper as soon as you see secondary activity on the fireback.  This usually takes place in less than three minutes.

            If you are using one of our classic catalytic stoves and you are using dry kindling, we have found that you can close the bypass damper in as little as 5 minutes.

            What to watch for:

            As embers from the kindling bonfire fall into the split pieces, the fire will gain in strength and intensity, until it reaches the split pieces on the bottom.  You will not have to open the door, or add wood.  The six pieces of split wood (weighing 10-12 pounds) will burn for several hours; longer if you close the damper down a bit after an hour or so.  You may have to experiment a little to get it just right.  There will be very little smoke or emissions if you start a fire this way.  You can see a video of us starting a fire this way in the lab here.  




            Stay tuned, this post gives you the “how", our next blog post explains the “why” it works so well.