Wood cookstoves offer cooking at a different pace
If you are considering the purchase of a wood stove, you may have one of several motivations. Many people look to install a wood stove with an oven and/or cooktop for the sake of security, ensuring the ability to cook during a power outage or some sort of distaster scenario. Others look to a wood cookstove as a way of using a renewable resource and reducing their usage of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas. The other motivation for many people's interest in wood cookstoves is "homesteading" or a desire to get "back to the land" and be more independent.
While all of these are good justifications for obtaining a wood cookstove, it is important to know what exactly you are getting if you do choose to make such a purchase – a wood cookstove does not operate in the same way as the electric fireplaces or gas ranges that citizens of developed countries have become used to, but the differences are considerably less significant than one might expect. The largest difference between a wood cookstove and its gas or electric counterparts is its inability to simply increase or decrease the temperature at will. Since the heat is dictated by the wood burning inside of the stove as well as its arrangement therein, increases and decreases in temperature happen over spaces of several minutes to an hour, rather than instantaneously, like with a common household range. The fastest method of increasing or decreasing the heat that gets to your food is by moving the pot or pan around on the surface of the stove, sliding it to a cooler area to reduce to a simmer, or sliding to a location directly atop the firebox to quickly boil.
Additionally, the round segments located on most wood cookstoves are not "burners" as they appear on household ranges. These are in fact lids which can be removed in order to feed wood to the fire, and they may not be the hottest part of the stove at all – the location of greatest heat is determined by the location of the firebox and the arrangement of wood fuel inside of it, as well as the air which reaches the fire, dictated by the "draft" knobs which are typically located on the side of the stove.
Since wood cookstoves operate on a longer timescale than the most modern lives, they may not suit everyone all of the time, but if you are interested in maintaining independence and heat in the event of a disaster or emergency, a wood cookstove is certainly a great way to do so.