Stoking the Stove

How to Cook
In order to cook foods, heat in some form must be applied. This heat is obtained usually by burning some substance. Thus the first requisite for obtaining heat is something to burn, i.e. a fuel. The fuels commonly used in households are, wood, coal, kerosene, and gas. Although electricity is not a fuel, its use in cooking is so well established that it should be mentioned as a source of heat.

Heat; Kindling Temperature
There are fuel substances everywhere,--paper, cloth, wood, etc. These materials do not burn unless heated; even gas does not burn by simply turning on the stopcock. But if a piece of paper is placed in contact with glowing iron, the paper burns. It burns because it is heated. If the blazing paper is placed in contact with kindling wood and coal, the kindling wood soon begins to burn because it is heated by the burning paper. The coal burns when it is heated by the burning wood. All fuels must be heated before they will burn.

When one thinks of the ease with which paper "catches fire" and of the difficulty of making hard coal burn, it becomes evident that some substances require only a small amount of heat before they will burn, while others require much heat. Different materials, then, require different degrees of heat to burn. The phosphorus and other substances on the tip of a match ignite readily. The heat that is developed by rubbing the tip over some surface is sufficient to make the phosphorus burn. The burning phosphorus and other substances heat the match stick to the temperature at which it begins to burn; the burning match stick applied to paper heats the latter to the temperature at which it burns. The temperature to which a substance must be heated in order to burn and continue to burn is called the kindling temperature of that substance.

Examination of a Coal Range
Remove the lids from the coal range. Note the location of the fire box. What is its purpose? How is the floor of the fire box constructed? Where is the check damper? What is its purpose? Where is the ash pan? Where is the front damper? What is its purpose? Note the place where the stovepipe joins the range. What is the purpose of the stovepipe? Note the damper in the stovepipe. What is its purpose? Note the location of the oven. By what is the oven surrounded? Find the oven damper. Open it. In what direction do the hot gases pass out when the oven damper is open? What part of the range is heated when the oven damper is open?

Fire Building in a Coal Range
It is necessary to have the fire box, ash pan, and other parts of the stove clean before building a fire. After cleaning, place a generous layer of loosely crumpled paper over the bottom of the fire box, then about four layers of kindling wood, placed so that there are air passages between the pieces, and on top of the wood put two shovelfuls of coal. Regulate the dampers for a direct draft, replace the stove-lids, and brush the surface of the stove.

Before lighting the fuels, polish the range in the following manner: To the nickel of the stove apply whiting and ammonia or any satisfactory metal cleanser.

To the iron of the stove apply oil rather than "blacking." Light paraffin oil may be used for this purpose. Apply the oil with cotton waste, or a soft cloth. (Care should be taken not to apply an excess of oil.) Polish with soft cotton or woolen cloth. One should remember, however, that oil must be used with caution. It should never be applied to a stove containing burning fuels. If the stove cloth, saturated with oil, is not destroyed after using, it is well to keep it in a covered tin can or stone jar. After polishing the stove, light the fuels. When the wood is reduced to glowing embers and the coal is burning, add more coal. If this burns well, change the dampers to make an indirect draft.

Gas Ranges
The method of lighting oven burners varies in different ranges, and for this reason it is impossible to give directions for lighting which will apply to all oven burners. There is, however, one important direction that should always be borne in mind. Always open the oven door before lighting the oven burners. If such caution is not observed, the gas may escape into the oven and cause an explosion. In case there is a pilot-lighter, open the oven door and see that the oven burners are turned off before lighting the pilot.

Adjusting a Gas Burner
The products of combustion of fuel gas that most interest the housekeeper are carbon and carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a poisonous gas, but it does not support animal life. Air containing much carbon dioxide does not contain enough oxygen for perfect respiration, hence the need of an outlet for the products of combustion of a gas stove; good flue construction is quite as necessary for a gas range as for a coal range.

When gas burns with a yellow flame, it deposits soot on cooking utensils and does not give as much heat as it should. This is caused by incomplete combustion. Moreover, "carbon monoxide", which is present in some gas, may escape without burning. This is an exceedingly poisonous gas and when inhaled even in small quantities may cause serious effects. Hence it is specially necessary for a housewife to see that the gas burner is clean, well regulated, and properly constructed, so that sufficient air can mix with the gas to produce a blue flame.

Conserving Gas
According to authoritative information3, "the demands for natural gas are now greater than the available supply. Food and trees can be grown. Water supplies are constantly replenished by nature, but there is no regeneration in natural gas." It is thought that natural gas forms so slowly that millions of years will be required to make the present concentrated supply. As far as we are concerned, when the present supply is used up, it is gone forever. Since natural gas is a most efficient fuel, every housekeeper and householder should feel obligated to waste none of it. Suggestions for conserving gas follow:
  • See that the mixer is properly adjusted so that the flame is light
    blue in color.
  • In selecting a gas stove, see that the burner is so located that the
    cooking surface is the correct distance above the burner. The tip of the
    flame should touch the bottom of the utensil. If it is necessary to have a
    long flame in order to bring this about, there is considerable waste of
  • If the flame is long, the gas pressure is greater than necessary.
    Regulate the gas pressure by adjusting the valve in the supply pipe. A
    short flame will save gas and produce satisfactory results, provided the
    cooking surface is the proper distance above the burner.
  • After the contents of a cooking utensil boils, turn the gas cock so
    that only "gentle" boiling takes place. A food becomes no hotter in
    rapidly boiling than in gently boiling water.
  • When possible, use the simmering burner rather than the regular or
    giant burner.
  • Let the flame touch only the bottom of the cooking utensil. There is a
    wastage of gas when the flame streams lip the sides of the cooking
  • Turn off the gas immediately when fuel is not needed. Matches are
    cheaper than fuel gas.

Care of the Gas Range
Daily Care
If any substance on the stove cannot be removed easily, loosen it with a knife, and then wipe the stove with a newspaper. Clean the stove with waste or a cloth having a little light paraffin oil on it. Polish with soft cotton or flannel cloth. Remove the tray that is beneath the top burners, and wash.

Weekly Care
Wash the inside of the oven and the movable tray with water to which washing soda solution has been added. It is well to light the oven burner to dry the stove after washing the ovens. Polish the nickel, if necessary. Clean the stove with oil as directed for a coal range. Since oils ignite most readily, care should be taken not to apply the oil when the stove is lighted! Wipe the burner with the oil. Clean the small holes of the burners by using a knitting needle or wire kept for this purpose; or, if the openings in the burners are slots, use a knife to clean them.

Stoves and Heating Devices

Kerosene Stoves
There are two types of kerosene stoves, viz., wick and wickless stoves. The burners of the former type are supplied with cotton wicks which become saturated with kerosene. When a match is applied to the wick, the kerosene on it vaporizes and the vapor burns. The burning kerosene vapor vaporizes more kerosene and thus the burning continues.

In one type of wickless stove it is necessary to heat the burner so that the kerosene will vaporize when it comes in contact with it. Such a burner may be heated by pouring a small quantity of gasoline into it. A lighter is then applied to the burner. When the latter is sufficiently heated, the kerosene is turned on. The kerosene then vaporizes as it flows into the hot burner and burns.

In other types of so-called wickless stoves, the burners are equipped with asbestos or other incombustible material. This material becomes saturated with kerosene and carries the fuel to the tip of the burner somewhat as does a cloth wick.

It is especially necessary to keep kerosene burners clean. Bits of carbon collect in them and prevent perfect combustion. This results in "smoke" or soot issuing from the burner. It is well to keep the burners and wicks free from charred material, and to renew the latter when they become short.

Most kerosene stoves are equipped with removable containers for the fuel. These should be kept filled with sufficient kerosene for burning. A wick burner should never be allowed to burn after all the kerosene in the container is exhausted.

Gasoline Stoves
When gasoline is used in a stove, it is necessary to vaporize the gasoline before lighting the burner. This is accomplished in most stoves by letting the gasoline flow into a cup situated underneath the burner, turning off the supply of gasoline, and then applying a match to the cup. By the time the gasoline is burned the burner is heated. Then the stopcock is turned on, a match applied to the burner, and the gasoline vaporizes and burns.

Gasoline burners, like those in which kerosene is burned, should be kept clean. When a mixture of gasoline vapor and air is heated, an explosion may result. It is for this reason that "the tank or gasoline container of a stove should never be filled while the burners of the stove are lighted or even hot."

Electric Stoves
It was mentioned previously that electricity is not a fuel. Hence electric stoves are not provided with burners. They have heaters which contain coils of wires through which an electric current passes. Electricity is the cleanest source of heat for cooking. But in order to operate an electric stove economically, it is necessary to utilize the current required for a heating element to its greatest extent. For example, if the current is turned on to heat the oven as many foods as possible should be cooked in the oven.

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  Cooking Notes 2006