Thursday, March 28, 2024

Cookstoves in History Part 1 -- to 1940– with Giveaway – by Donna Schlachter

Indonesian traditional brick stove -- Wikipedia

Which came first—the kitchen or the cookstove? Well, the cookstove, of course. Food preparation has been going on far longer than the separation of an area to prepare the food. In ancient cultures, open fires cooked meat and breads. Later, clay was used to create ovens, enclosing the fire completely for a much more efficient cooking process, particularly for baking and roasting. Both wood and charcoal, or sometimes a combination of both, were used in the process to provide the higher temperatures needed. In these designs, which were about knee high, fuel was added through a hole in the front, while the cooking pots were place over or hung into holes at the top. By as early as the second century AD, this design was common in the Middle East, with China and Japan adopting and adapting similar cookstoves soon after. By the 1600s, after stooping over their stoves for far too long, a raised version was developed in Japan.

In the Middle Ages, waist-high brick-and-mortar hearths appeared, many with chimneys. Food was cooked mainly in cauldrons hanging over the hearth, with temperature regulated by raising or lowering the pot in relation to the flame.

When hearths were redesigned to make them safer, decrease the smoke in the house, and increase the cooking and fuel efficiency, flat-bottomed pots were required to set on the iron plate.

The first design to completely enclose the fire was the 1735 Castrol stove, built by a Bavarian architect. Made of masonry, with fire holes covered by perforated iron plates, this design was also known as a stew stove. By the end of the 18th century, the design including devices to hang the pots in the holes.

The Rumford Range, 1807

In the 1790s, in an effort to restrict chimney to create an updraft which generated more heat so the cookstove would not just cook food but also heat the room, Count Rumford, an avid scientist and inventor, modified fireplaces by inserting bricks into the hearth to angle the side walls. Next, he developed a kitchen range made from brick, making the design more efficient to cook and to heat. This range was popular in large cooking establishments, including the soup kitchen he opened in Bavaria.

Within fifty years or so, Rumford’s design was adapted for use in private homes. The first cast iron stoves replaced the bulkier masonry versions, and by the 1850s, the modern kitchen, complete with a cooking range, was seen in most middle-class homes. The growth of American coal mining in the early years of the 19th century and iron mining made these cast iron ranges more available and affordable. Before this, early metal stoves were imported from Holland and England.
Perfect for larger families or boarding houses, these styles offered multiple cooking options -- Wikipedia

Early gas stove 1904 -- Wikipedia
Gas stoves were introduced in the 1820s, but while they proved a major improvement to the cooking process, the fuel was not readily available. In 1851, a gas stove was shown at The Great Exhibition in London, but the technology didn’t come into widespread use until the 1880s.
Budapest tiled range -- Wikipedia

Following the Civil War, ranges with baking ovens attached became popular, spreading heat thoroughly throughout loaves while keeping the top crust tender. Stoves of this time also allowed the heat to be concentrated on one side of the stove top, so that food could be cooked at different temperatures based on where the pot or pan was set.

Patent for "Electric cooking stove" -- Wikipedia

At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, an electrified range was demonstrated, but the notion was slow to catch on because consumers living outside large cities didn’t have access to electricity. In addition, the ranges had poor temperature controls, and their heating elements didn’t last long.

AGA cooker -- Wikipedia

The first practical design for the electric range was patented by Australian David Smith in 1905, followed soon by the high-end gas stove called the AGA cooker in 1922. This version incorporated the best of the cast iron cooker and became popular in Sweden. By the 1930s, Britain had adopted this style, which is still made today in England.

Next month, we’ll explore the history of cookstoves beyond the 1940s.

Giveaway: Leave a comment to enter a random drawing for a free ebook of “Cooking Up Trouble” in The Recipe Box series. Learn more about the book here:

And the rest of the Series:

About Donna:

A hybrid author, Donna writes squeaky clean historical and contemporary suspense. She has been published more than 60 times in books; is a member of several writers groups; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; and judges in writing contests. She loves history and research, traveling extensively for both, and is an avid oil painter. She is taking all the information she’s learned along the way about the writing and publishing process, and is coaching committed career writers. Stay connected so you learn about new releases, preorders, and presales, as well as check out featured authors, book reviews, and a little corner of peace. Plus: Receive 2 free ebooks simply for signing up for our free newsletter!


Books: Amazon:



The Purpose-Full Writer:

Need a writing coach?



  1. Thank you for posting today. I love the history of kitchens and cookstoves!

    1. Thanks for stopping by. Good luck in the drawing.

  2. Interesting post. My grandparents had a stove with the ovens beside the cooking elements. It was white with yellow trim. It was so different then the one we had. I loved everything Grandma cooked on that stove.

    1. And there is a knack to successful cooking on those ranges. Good luck in the drawing.

  3. Our daughter works at a living history museum where it is 1836 everyday. She has learned a ton about hearthside cooking!

    1. How fun! I love going when they are demonstrating cooking and baking. Good luck in the drawing.

    2. You won the ebook. Email me to get your coupon to redeem: donna AT livebytheword DOT come

  4. LisaD is the randomly drawn winner of an ebook copy of "Cooking Up Trouble". Please email me so I can send your coupon to redeem: donna AT livebytheword DOT come