Are soapstone stoves different to operate?

D. Moriority

New Member
Oct 17, 2020
3
Cape Cod
Hello,
I just joined the forum because we are planning to replace our old VC Vigilant, in hopes of having a cleaner burning, more efficient stove and because we want to see the fire! After a fair amount of research we were leaning towards the Hearthstone Heritage (hybrid). It's a good size for our house, we like the way it looks, and the more even heating claim appeals to us. However the sales person at the stove shop sort of discouraged us from it, saying that because we're "used to cast iron" we wouldn't like it and that it's more finicky about the quality of the wood that cast iron stoves. What do you think? Obviously wood needs to be well seasoned, but is that especially true for soapstone stoves? Do they really burn that differently? Thanks in advance for any input!
D.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,334
South Puget Sound, WA
He is sort of right, for the wrong reasons. Any stove runs better with dry wood, but modern EPA stoves, in particular, need dry wood to keep the firebox hot enough to burn cleanly. This is true of modern cast iron, steel or soapstone stoves. Old stoves were a bit more tolerant of burning poor wood, they just smoked more and cresoted the chimney if the wood was damp. The main difference between the Vigilant and the Heritage will be the heat. When going strong, the Vigilant can be a radiant heat bomb. The Heritage is going to be less radiant because the stone absorbs a lot of the heat. The stone then releases the heat as the fire dies down. For a more radiant experience like the Vigilant, but with a little bit of soapstone heat retention inside, the Hearthstone Shelburne and Manchester are a closer match.

How large an area are you heating with the stove?
 

D. Moriority

New Member
Oct 17, 2020
3
Cape Cod
He is sort of right, for the wrong reasons. Any stove runs better with dry wood, but modern EPA stoves, in particular, need dry wood to keep the firebox hot enough to burn cleanly. This is true of modern cast iron, steel or soapstone stoves. Old stoves were a bit more tolerant of burning poor wood, they just smoked more and cresoted the chimney if the wood was damp. The main difference between the Vigilant and the Heritage will be the heat. When going strong, the Vigilant can be a radiant heat bomb. The Heritage is going to be less radiant because the stone absorbs a lot of the heat. The stone then releases the heat as the fire dies down. For a more radiant experience like the Vigilant, but with a little bit of soapstone heat retention inside, the Hearthstone Shelburne and Manchester are a closer match.

How large an area are you heating with the stove?
Thanks, that is about what I thought. The house is about 1500 square feet and except for an office on the north side of the first floor, the Vigilant does a good job of heating it. We do get a cycle at night where at 2:00 am we're throwing off the covers and pulling them back up a few hours later. We are hoping for a little steadier heat with the soapstone. The Manchester is also on our list, as is the Jotul Oslo (not soapstone of course).
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,334
South Puget Sound, WA
Look at cast iron jacketed stoves too for soapstone-like heating, without the fragility of stone.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,682
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I pushed about 30 cords of wood through a heritage before my current blaze king. Once the stone stove was fully warmed up and you kept it fed the heat was very nice and the stone stove always looked great.

What stinks about a stone stove is when the room and stove is cold and you want heat out of it. It takes forever to heat up!

If your installation allows or requires that you just keep the dang thing hot all the time then this isn’t a problem.
 

MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
392
Idaho
Going on 11 years with my Hearthstone, I concur with Highbeam. Ours is a second stove, and we only run it for a few weeks each January and February. The main stove is a BK king.
 

Joyboy

Burning Hunk
Jan 22, 2017
188
Wyoming
I pushed about 30 cords of wood through a heritage before my current blaze king. Once the stone stove was fully warmed up and you kept it fed the heat was very nice and the stone stove always looked great.

What stinks about a stone stove is when the room and stove is cold and you want heat out of it. It takes forever to heat up!

If your installation allows or requires that you just keep the dang thing hot all the time then this isn’t a problem.
I have a Woodstock progress that I wouldn’t trade for anything. But it does take longer to heat up.

Last year we were having a party and I let the fire go out that morning so I could clean the glass which I hadn’t done in a couple months. One of the reasons I chose it was because of the great light show. I didn’t light the stove until the first guests started arriving. One male guests was looking at the stove and commented “there’s not much heat coming from such a great big fire”
I laughed and told him basically the same thing begreen did above and told him to check back before he left. Before he left he said “ good hell that thing puts out a lot of heat”.

To be fair the progress puts out a lot of heat from the glass but doesn’t put out heat from the sides near as quickly as a steel stove.

I don’t even notice anymore but I run it for my main heater 24/7 when it gets cold.
 

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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,334
South Puget Sound, WA
I like their engineering but have not been a fan of many of their designs. Some are too old fashioned looking and others just look odd.
 
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bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
22,190
central pa
I like their engineering but have not been a fan of many of their designs. Some are too old fashioned looking and others just look odd.
I agree with that
 

orlkc

Member
Nov 9, 2017
37
Eastern MA
I've only had a soapstone stove, so I don't have a clear basis for comparison, but I think a flue probe thermometer may be even more useful on a soapstone stove than other types. On a cold start (if it goes well) I'll be a good way through turning the air down when the stovetop is only a little bit over 100 dF. Mid winter when running full loads it doesn't matter as much, but now when I'm doing many more cold starts and only filling the stove half full the thermometer is very helpful.
 

barnaclebob

Feeling the Heat
Nov 29, 2017
262
Puget Sound
I think woodstock progress hybrid stoves may take longer than hearthstones to heat up. If I'm not mistaken, the hearhstones have a single layer of soapstone that is the actual firebox. Woodstock PH's are fully steel firebox's with a layer of soapstone on both sides and cast iron trim. I know the door on my PH gets warm significantly faster than the other side of the stove because it does not have two layers soapstone to heat.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,682
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
There’s modern, old fashioned, and then the ornate/gothic/Victorian look. I’m not an architect but I would put some Woodstocks in that last category.

Great performance specs though.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,334
South Puget Sound, WA
There’s modern, old fashioned, and then the ornate/gothic/Victorian look. I’m not an architect but I would put some Woodstocks in that last category.

Great performance specs though.
Yes, and then some are in the steampunk category. The Keystone, Palladian and Progress are decent designs. My wife does not like the look of soapstone, thinks it looks too dated, otherwise I might have tried a Progress Hybrid.
 
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Joyboy

Burning Hunk
Jan 22, 2017
188
Wyoming
Yes, and then some are in the steampunk category. The Keystone, Palladian and Progress are decent designs. My wife does not like the look of soapstone, thinks it looks too dated, otherwise I might have tried a Progress Hybrid.
I can see that depending on where you live. Here in Wyoming probably 99% of people have plain old steel stoves. So the look of the progress is really new and unique. We don’t have much for soapstone around here.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,334
South Puget Sound, WA
Yes, steel is big here too, with cast iron coming in second. Soapstone is heavy and shipping to the west puts a premium on these stoves.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
22,190
central pa
Yes, steel is big here too, with cast iron coming in second. Soapstone is heavy and shipping to the west puts a premium on these stoves.
Even here soapstone stoves are not that common
 
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ArtDeco

Member
Mar 10, 2014
14
Central PA
Even here soapstone stoves are not that common
Yep. My hearthstone heritage is the only one I have ever heard of around here. And if @bholler wouldn't have been willing to install it, I would have bought cast iron.

About 5 years on, I'm still very happy with my 500 pound rock. Looks great, heats 1500 sq ft easily, and holds hot coals for many, many hours.

But it is a stove built to run constantly once you light it. It's not good for the weekend and evening only burner.
 
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valuman

Burning Hunk
Mar 11, 2014
164
Vermont
We absolutely love our Fireview stove and run it 24-7 during the heating season. As others have said here, it takes a bit of time for it to start to radiate the heat normally associated with woodstove heating. When it is warmed up the heat is incredible though; the soapstone "softens" the radiant which is more comfortable and comforting than a highly radiant steel of cast iron stove. I think you really have to experience it to understand.

For my shop where the stove won't be running 24-7, I went with an Ideal Steel hybrid because I want a faster warm up and further reaching radiance, as well as the efficiency of a Woodstock stove design. So far, so good, but it hasn't gotten very cold here yet to know how it's going to feel on a cold night.

You can also come up to the Woodstock Soapstone factory to have a look in their showroom and pick out the stove you want from the warehouse, which we did with our Fireview. There's some difference in the appearance of different pieces of stone, so it's kind of nice to choose the one you want. I'm happy to answer any questions regarding my experience with our Woodstock stoves, just ask!
 
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