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Home » Off Grid Living

Wood Stoves and Humidity

Submitted by on November 23, 2014 – 4:47 pm 12 Comments
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wood stove

I’ve learned the importance of adding humidity to the air when you’re burning a wood stove all day long. When we don’t put water on the stove, the houseplants dry out, my skin and hair dry out, and stuffy noses and sore throats soon follow.

One way to add humidity back into the air when burning a wood stove is to put a kettle of water on the stove to steam throughout the day. We had a Cast Iron Kettle Humidifieron our stove for a long time, but it was easy to forget about and it dried up quickly.

I’ve started putting a large pot of water on the stove, so that I can watch the level of the water throughout the day. I also like to add stovetop potpourri to the pot of water to make the house smell nice. I throw in whatever I have on hand- cranberries, used cinnamon sticks, a splash of vanilla, a handful of whole cloves (or clove essential oil), snippings of pine needles, orange or lemon essential oil, lavender, eucalyptus, etc. It lifts the spirits on cold days.

Before we had a wood stove I never knew you were supposed to put a kettle on it. I’d seen my grandparents do it, but it never really occurred to me to ask what it was for. I’ve realized that things dry out really quickly when you forget to put a full kettle on.

I’m still struggling with really dry hair and skin. I think drinking lots of water is super important when you have the wood stove blazing- something I haven’t been paying close enough attention to. I’ve gotta be better about staying hydrated.

Do you have a special trick to keeping humidity up while the stove burns?

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12 Comments »

  • Anonymous says:

    What can I use on a wood stove for humidity

  • Méran says:

    Up until a year ago I struggled with a lack of humidity. I would run a humidifier all year long. Of course, I was living in Utah and they don’t have a word for “humid”. I recently have had the opposite problem. I moved to the Oregon coast. Complete switch. Now I have so much humidity I have condensation on my windows and moldy sills. We have a propane furnace and it doesn’t do anything about the soggy state of my house. My brother in law, however, has a wood stove and doesn’t have any issues with hyper-humidity. I didn’t realize that was why until now.

    • katesisco says:

      Exactly! High humididty in Upper Penn of MI.
      This small ranch I have been in for a year seemed perfect. All on one floor, full basement. The original builder/owners had a metal coal/wood stove with a built-in water tank for hot water. After 2010 the inheritors put in a gas furnace and a elec hot water heater which immediately became apparent was a bad idea. I discovered the basement humidity was always over 70%. There is hydrostatic pressure against the poured concrete walls but no actual water. So the house went from comfortable as the wood/coal used up the humidity to feeling damp and chilly even at 70 temp because the gas furnace does nothing to reduce the humidity. Rather than pay the exorbitant elec to run a dehumidifier I would choose to return to wood heat.
      Pity they did not put in a radiant gas boiler system using one of the newer hyper efficient gas water heaters capable of running the radiant floor heat system and the hot water both. But the forced air duct work was in place so why not use it?

  • Gina Lewis says:

    My tip for dry skin during the winter months? I go to the local thrift stores and purchase a few of the older crock pots. I put one in the living area, one in my bedroom, and one in the kitchen area. I fill them with water and put them on the lowest setting. And yes, they run all day and all night. If it wasn’t for our hard water, I would be able to keep them longer than the one winter season.

  • Rachel says:

    I have been hanging my wet laundry on one of those wooden holders and it adds quite a bit of moisture to the room. We had a insert installed in our home so there isn’t room to put a pot on top (my husband wouldn’t allow that anyway since the woodstove is his baby that he wants to keep “nice” looking). I would u of love a stove I could cook on if needed.

  • Amy says:

    This is my goal for prob 2 years from now— a wood stove in the living room. We always had one when I was growing up, and it would warm our two-story farmhouse to the point of having to open a window sometimes. There are too many other things that need doing around my property til then, but having a heat source that I can also slow roast food on all day is a big priority for me. And you can’t beat free firewood that you cut yourself. 🙂

  • Lois says:

    I bought a house this summer that has a nice fireplace that we’ve already had to use for about a week when temps were really cold a few weeks ago and I hate how much heat is lost. What I wouldn’t give to have a wood stove like yours! I figured you could attach the pipe to the existing fireplace pipe but wasn’t sure how to make it level when it would be sitting partially inside the FP. We had one when my kids were small and not only did I keep a pot of water on it, I’d also put on a pot of beans or soup and let it slow simmer all day! Loved it!

  • Sandra says:

    I have a fireplace exactly like yours and am very interested in the woodstove insert you have installed. Did you have a professional do it for you or did you just buy a woodstove and pipe and do it yourself. Do you remove the stove in the summer to keep your cool air from going up the chimney.

    I think your set-up would provide more heat using less wood; is that what you’ve found to be the case?

    • Kendra says:

      Sandra,

      I’ll tell you what we did, though I can’t say whether or not it’s an “approved” method. We did not have a professional look at it.

      All we did was buy a wood stove, remove the back legs, and slide it into the fireplace. We propped the back end up with firebrick to make it sit level. We made sure the pipe from the back of the stove fit up into the chimney pipe (which took a little effort to maneuver.) We don’t remove the stove during the summer, and haven’t noticed any problems with drafts.

      Yes, we definitely get more heat with the wood stove. The fireplace was just not efficient at all. It was pretty to look at, but all of the heat went straight up the chimney. The wood stove heats our home and uses much less wood than an open fireplace. Plus, the heat radiates off of it for a while even after the fire has died out. If you can put a wood stove in, I would highly recommend it. 🙂

      • Kevin Miller says:

        Hi Kendra! We just started using a wood stove in our basement this year and it’s wonderful! We run it through the evening, and Val puts wood in again in the morning for one load. So far that’s been sufficient to keep our house at about 70 degrees throughout the day. What seems to happen is that the basement warms up (walls, floor etc) and the heat radiates upwards throughout the day, even long after the stove has gone out. Using this method we recently only had a 3-degree drop from morning till evening. Indoor temp was 72 in the morning and held very steady to 69 in the late evening. The temp outside was about 35 degrees, so it wasn’t brutally cold, but in the past we’ve spent most of our winter days shivering! If you can put the stove in a basement it takes longer to warm the house up, but I think it retains the heat better. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

  • Leah Spencer says:

    When you bathe or shower, leave the bathroom door open for the moisture to circulate in the house. Or if you need privacy, keep the drain plug in place while you shower and then open the door afterwards and let the moisture circulate.

    If it’s not too much of a electrical drain, there’s always running a diffuser too. 🙂

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