Protecting stoves and BBQs from rust over the winter

Cold rain

It’s that time of year when camping gets put away for another year. Of course, all of our stoves are great for year-round use, but even being made of cast-iron or stainless steel, a little care during wet weather goes a long way. Avoid the disappointment of reaching for your stove or BBQ next spring only to find a rust hole in its base!

The enemies: oxygen, moisture, temperature, ash and tar

Rusting is the process of oxidation, and happens when ferrous metals are exposed to oxygen and moisture. Stainless steel is a lot more resistant to rust, but as you’ll see on bicycle wheel-rims, it isn’t stain-proof.

Rust is accelerated when metals are exposed to high temperatures. Some of our stoves reach temperatures of almost 1000°C (wood burns at about 800°, charcoal at around 1000°), but use 304-grade stainless or alloys designed to withstand this.

Ash has corrosive compounds in it, which act on metal in the presence of water. It also retains water very effectively!

Most wood-fuelled stoves – even our incredibly efficient ones – also create a little tar/ creosote, a mix of unburned hydrocarbons. This is what corrodes chimney liners and wood-burning stoves in homes, particularly when damp wood is burned as moisture increases production and activates the corrosive components.

How do I protect wood-fuelled gear during winter?

The easiest factors to control are moisture, ash and tar.

  1. Start by emptying out all ash, including nooks and crannies.
  2. Wipe down all components of the stove that are blackened, as this contains the tar. Include the outside, inside, pot supports and stick supports.
  3. Make sure the stove is thoroughly dry before storing. A shed is not ideal as temperature fluctuations tend to lead to moisture condensation (this is why you often see tools rust even in a dry shed). An attached garage is better. Any space in that cupboard under the stairs?
  4. With unfinished metal (like our Firepits and Tripods) you might also consider wiping over the surface with a thin layer of oil – this protects metal surfaces from oxygen.

Most of our stoves are built for year-round action. If they’re being used through the winter do make sure damp ash isn’t sitting in them between uses. And don’t worry about a thin layer of brown rust on any of your stoves – this is normal and should not decrease the lifetime of your stove.

Please post and share any other comments or tips!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.