I took advantage today of the warm weather and no fire to clean the woodstove. She looks aweful! I try for weekly in the winter and monthly in the summer, but I don’t always meet that goal. You might wonder why it even needs cleaning in the summer when it’s not in use. The stovetop is a sheet of 1/4” steel and will rust if you so much as sneeze on it. In the summer when there’s no fire to drive off moisture it’s even worse. I clean it monthly in summer, oil it and cover the top with wax paper. Then it functions as counter space.
Being southerners, we like fried stuff. The back plate, unfortunately, catches lots of grease and I’m not always the best at wiping it off promptly. After a couple of hot fires the splatters are pretty much petrified. Today I’m using oven cleaner to try to remove as much as possible.
The manufacturer of the Pioneer Maid recommends steel wool for cleaning the stove top. Again, I’m not always as diligent as I should be and by the time I get around to cleaning the stove top steel wool just won’t cut it. I’ve found the best tool to use is a pumice grill block that we purchase as the local restaurant supply. I give the entire top a good scrub and brush the dust into the fire hole. Next I wipe it with a damp rag and look for rough spots for re-scrubbing. When the surface is as smooth as I can get it I give it a last once-over with a damp rag, dry it off well, and rub it down with a very light coat of lard. If the stove is hot I forgo the damp rag and use a paper towel or newspaper. In summer I use Vaseline or mineral oil to avoid rancidity. The lid to the reservoir is removable to allow a good scrubbing and rinse. Last, use a clean dry rag, newspaper or paper towel and polish the top till it shines.
Black is an interesting color. It’s great for hiding stains on clothes but not so much on kitchen appliances. For the body of the Pioneer Maid I make up a basin of warm soapy water with a bit of ammonia added, wipe everything down, then rinse with clean water.
For an end of the season cleaning I will clean the oven and the reservoir as well. Today I’ll wind up by dumping the ashes and preparing for a fire this evening when the cold is forecast to roll in again.