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What Is a Corn Stove?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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A corn stove is a stove that burns shelled corn for fuel, relying on the natural store of energy in dried corn to generate heat. Corn burns very efficiently and cleanly in a well-maintained stove and can be one of the cheapest available sources of fuel. Corn stoves may also be designed to take multiple types of fuel, including pellets, wheat, and other renewable fuels, to make them more versatile. Consumers can find them through stove dealers as well as manufacturers.

The corn stove includes a hopper to store a reserve of fuel, a vent to allow byproducts of combustion outside, and another vent for pulling in air to help the corn combust. Many can rely on outside air for combustion, limiting drying of indoor air, a common problem in winter with wood stoves. The hopper can store enough fuel for several days in some cases, and the stove tends to be very low maintenance, allowing users to fill it up and leave it until the hopper starts to run low.

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As a fuel source, corn pellets are renewable in addition to efficient. It only takes a few months to grow corn, as opposed to years or decades for wood, and centuries for fuels like natural gas to form under the earth. This can make it appealing for households where the goal is to increase renewability of fuels as well as fuel efficiency. Corn generates steady heat due to stored ethanol, and the efficiency can vary depending on the variety a household uses to power its stove.

Chimney cleaning and similar maintenance activities are greatly reduced with a corn stove because of the increased efficiency. This limits the risk of fires, a common concern with fuels like wood, which create creosote buildups that can lead to fires. The stove is also usually very easy to operate, kicking on quickly to generate heat. Heat exchangers on the surface of the stove, as well as the size, determine how much area it can comfortably and safely heat.

Some companies make corn stove inserts or fittings, allowing for the retrofit of an existing stove. Consumers do not have to install a new stove and ventilation system, simply fitting a modular unit into an existing installation. In new construction or cases where there is a desire to install a completely new stove, it is possible to install a brand new corn stove rather than an insert.

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