Do Wood Stove Steamers Work?

Those who burn wood may find that their home’s relative humidity drops quite a bit during the winter months, and the blame normally goes to the appliance.

In reality, using a wood stove has little to do with why the indoor air gets more dry during the winter. The actual reason is a drafty home.

With that said, air sealing a home is not an option for everybody, therefore using some type of humidity-generating device is the only option, at least for the time being (though it’s still highly advised to treat the house for air leakage first, which should solve the problem fully).

Not much

The steamers that go on top of wood stoves do help a bit in increasing the inside humidity, but little compared to an actual humidifier.

Don’t get me wrong, having one running on the stove is certainly better than having nothing, but if you think one will actually increase your room’s humidity to a proper level, think again.

A general-range plug in humidifier can run through more than 7 gallons of water per day! There is no way in world a stove top steamer could produce the same results – it just can’t!

Matter of fact, these steamers don’t always sit directly on top of the stove – normally a trivet is also used in place, and that only slows down the steaming process.

The other negatives

Require frequent fill ups

The thing is, these steamers hold a small amount of water, 3 quarts seems to be the standard size.

So once you’ll get a boil going, you’ll need to refill it pretty often. Do you want to be constantly babying such a thing, or set it and forget it?

A common household electric humidifier can hold even 6 gallons of water at once (24 quarts). I guess this example paints the picture well.

More maintenance

First of all, a cast iron stove top steamer has to be seasoned. Many of those who purchase one stumble into the rust problem simply because they don’t do that first. The seasoning coat has to be reapplied every now and then, too.

Secondly, you have to make sure it never boils over. Once that happens, rust may start forming on the stove, which can be a headache to clean up after, if not ruin the finish entirely.

What you should it instead for

If you’re up for the challenge of maintaining such a thing, these two reasons may make it worth your time:

A stove steamer works great for producing some nice smells. Throw in a cinnamon stick, other kinds of potpourri and you have a house smelling wonderful.

One also looks great, that’s for sure. A conversation starter, as some might say. If you get a kettle (not for steaming), you could even use it for on-demand hot water!

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