by Scott Lewis
"These barrel stoves get phenomenally hot - when going flat out the metal surfaces can glow cherry red and the heat radiates in all directions - behind and beneath the stove as well as into the room. They present as serious fire hazard as anything flamable within meters of it will be exposed to extreem heat."
I beg to differ with this assessment.
With the Sotz stoves you receive detailed instructions on making, and using your barrel stove.
Sotz emphasizes that you should NEVER let the stove become cherry red.
They explain that this is easily avoided, as the Sotz is an airtight stove.
By using the air control and not ever burning the stove with the door open you can run your stove at the operating temp of any cast iron stove, ie 400 to 500 degrees, and it will not get cherry red.
Sotz emphasizes that if the stove does get cherry red the metal will burn in two. This could result in 20 pounds of hot coals getting dumped all over your hearth/floor. If this happens your wife will not be happy.
I ran a Sotz double 55 gallon drum kit for 5 years and the metal was not damaged at all.
In the Sotz literature they speak of stove owners who burned a Sotz for 20 years and the metal was as good as new.
One thing is, every spring you need to take your stove apart and clean out all the ashes, in the summer these ashes will absorb moisture and rust the barrel in two. Just clean out the ashes and coat the inside with motor oil, not a big deal.
Thanks for the input - it is great to have comments from people who have direct experience of these barrel stoves. One tip I've heard of it to put a layer of sand a few inches thick in the bottom of the barrel - this helps to moderate the heat and prevent over-firing.
While modern stoves are rather more forgiving of over-firing repeatedly taking them beyond their temperature tolerances can warp or crack materials. It should be avoided in any circumstances really.
If sotz stoves advocate controlling the burn by shutting down the air supply I'd be concerned that damping down would lead to a smokey/polluting burn. Do they have controls in place to ensure that there is always sufficient air for secondary combustion?
All the best,