Masonry heaters have been used in Europe and Asia for centuries, where they are still commonly found. Fuel to generate warmth has always been a precious commodity, and the attraction of a masonry heater is that it uses a minimum amount of fuel to produce a maximum amount of heat. Though it may seem counter-intuitive, the fire in a masonry heater is not kept burning continuously, but deliberately designed to burn down quickly. The stored heat in the masonry radiates warmth and maintains a comfortable temperature for hours.
Most homeowners locate their masonry heaters in a part of the house where the family congregates. Masonry heaters typically are multi-functional and often include a heater, a bake oven, a cook stove, cozy sitting benches and wood storage. Because they are constructed of natural materials, they enhance the aesthetic quality of the room.
From an environmental standpoint, masonry heaters are among the soundest choices on the market today. First, of course, is that wood is a renewable resource, unlike fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal. But unlike conventional wood stoves and fireplaces, masonry heaters burn so cleanly that they produce very little smoke, biologically harmful tar particulates or dangerous creosote build-up that can cause chimney fires. The extremely high temperature of the masonry heater’s fire consumes virtually all the fuel, leaving only trace amounts of dense, easily disposable ash. Masonry heaters produce little soot and ash so walls don’t become smoke-stained; relative humidity throughout the home is maintained, keeping wood furniture and flooring from drying out; and, of particular benefit to asthma sufferers, the pleasant atmosphere created by masonry heaters is a welcome contrast to the parched, dry air found in most homes during the winter.