Question: I am searching for a wood burning insert for our fireplace, and since Consumer Reports does no research on this topic, I turned to your web site. Which material is better for a fireplace insert, cast iron or steel? Does it matter if the manufacturer uses brass or gold plating on the door & accents? Which materials do best under the thermal conditions produced by wood burning stoves? Answer: Steel and cast-iron are both fine materials for the stove body. More inserts are made of steel since it can be easily formed into the double chamber design needed for fireplace inserts. I have not seen any modern wood burning steel inserts burn through, so you can be assured of a decade or more of service. As far as the accents, solid brass will need more polishing, but will hold up in the long, long run. Gold plating can get messed up if it is cleaned ONCE with the wrong type of cleaner. So, it depends on how sure you are of who is going to clean it... There is now a stove and fireplace rating area of HearthNet that contains customer reviews. Check it out on the link from the front page of the site.