Bible Gateway

Monday, February 08, 2010

Cast Iron Stoves

In the nineteenth century, women's chores were difficult. Laundry was washed near a creek or over a cast iron cauldron with a stick. Women needed strong, muscular arms to wring heavy wet clothes, carry buckets of water, and iron clothes with a hot, cast, iron.

Strong arms were also needed in the kitchen. Women had to cook food, which she had to cut through thick muscles of beef and bones. An industrious women used her strong arms to bring cut wood into her kitchen and shove into her cast iron stove to cook a large meal for her husband and children.

Working the stove was difficult by our standards as well. Between the firebox and the chimney, a series of manual dampers and levers controlled the air and smoke flow, the rate of burning, and consequently the cooking temperatures. The fire was lit with all dampers open, after which adjustments redirected the heat and smoke to a passageway surrounding the oven to heat it. As the ovens were without self-regulating thermostats, overheating was prevented by opening oven doors temporarily, cutting down on the fire's air flow. To maintain temperature, women checked the relatively small fire-box, testing for heat by hand, and stoked it frequently.

Not only was the stove heavy, but so was the cookware. The tea kettle was extremely heavy and that was without it filled with water. Cast iron cookware, such as dutch ovens, muffin pans, and skillets were also heavy.

With knowledge of women's chores and the heavy appliance and cookware, it is no wonder why potential husbands and their mothers wished for women who were strong and could handle her own in the kitchen to be good, productive wives.


benbes said...

I like the way you write your post, very impressive.

Debra said...


Warren Baldwin said...

Interesting bit of history. My mother cooked on a wood cook stove when I was a kid. We only used it in the winter b/c it got so hot. It the summer we used a hot plate, as I recall, set on top of the wood stove. I'm sure it was a lot of work for mom, but it was a great experience for us kids.

Thanks for the friend connect on fb. If you get a chance, please visit my Family Fountain blog.

Debra said...

You're welcome, Warren!

My mother burned her hand on a wood burning stove when she was a toddler. She still has the scars today.

Nice to "meet" you!

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