Three years ago in the middle of a hot and rainy August we purchased our homestead paying little attention to the two wood stoves in the house. We moved in early October and within a month realized that our stoves were not just for looks but necessity. They have become a primary heating source in our cold Canadian winters but unfortunately do not produce enough heat for our entire home.
We purchased this Grain Comfort Stove before last winter and absolutely LOVE it. We installed the corn stove in our mudroom and have seen a significant impact to the overall temperature of our home.
These stoves work the same as wood pellet stoves except the fuel source is either corn, wheat, or rye. We have chosen to burn corn in our stove as it is readily available and cost effective.
Why to choose a Corn Stove over Wood Stoves
Since the grain stove is not a wood burning appliance is does not require a WETT Inspection, nor does it need to be installed by a WETT Certified Professional. Although we did have a professional install our corn stove, our insurance company only required the make, model and pictures of installation. I would recommend contacting your home insurance company or broker before making the investment in a grain stove.
Corn is easier to transport and store than wood
In the fall of each year we purchase a bush cord of cut, split, and dried hardwood from a local Mennonite. I refer to this as “the worst day of the year” as we spend hours stacking each piece of wood by hand in our shop. When it comes to corn our local TSC store carries 55lb bags of clean dry fuel corn, which is our top choice of fuel. Our feed mill also carries 55lb bags of corn, however it is not as clean as the TSC version. The great thing about this is you can purchase 1 bag or 1 skid at a time and can transport them in your vehicle with very little mess. Feed bags stack nicely and 6 bags will fill a 55 gallon food grade barrel for easy storage.
Set it and forget it
My absolute favourite thing about the corn stove is after starting, we leave it alone for 12 hours. Yep you read that right 12 whole hours, this is especially important because this means we can run the stove overnight without needing to add fuel or stoke the fire. Every 12 hours we remove the “clinker” (a hardened ash block of burnt corn) and top up the hopper with more corn, the entire process takes less than 5 minutes.
Kid & Pet “Friendly”
Because the fire is contained in a small fire box the only area that gets hot to touch is the glass panel on the front. You should be able to rest your hand on the top of the stove and it should only be warm. The rest of the housing (on ours at least) is simply to encase the fans and other mechanical parts which do not see heat at all.
All around, cleaning the corn stove is much easier than a wood stove. For starters, we vacuum out the fire box every single time we start it up using an ash vacuum, you don’t get a mountain of built up ash like a wood stove. Once a month we do a deeper clean by using a shop vac to blow out the soot that settles on the pipes. Since these stoves do not require a vertical chimney, it is really easy to clean the straight pipe out with your vacuum and some septic hose. Also, the corn makes little to no mess in the house unlike wood, and less chance of bringing in critters that live in wood piles.
Why to Choose Wood
Matches, paper, kindling, wood. That is all you need to start and keep your wood stove producing heat. If you either don’t have electricity (cabin maybe?) or worry about heating your home in a power outage, wood stoves are hands down the best choice. Two years ago our power was knocked out in an ice storm for 4 days and our wood stoves were indispensable. I was able to boil water, make coffee, and heat soup.
You cannot replace the smell of a wood stove or their crackling and popping with a grain stove. In reality grain stoves are “noisy” compared to wood stoves due to their fans and definitely don’t emit the same light as a wood stove with a large glass door.
So what do you think, will you be adding a grain stove to your homestead for this winter?
Update Winter 2018
Previously I mentioned that we were buying 50lb bags of corn from TSC, however we have now switched to 1/2 tonne big bags from our feed mill. We told them the corn was for fuel and now they take extra care to clean it really good for us, it’s even better than the TSC product we were purchasing! We also purchased this AMAZING big bag dispenser, “Fledbag” and can very easily dispense just the right amount of corn into buckets!