A box stove is the simplest kind of solid-fuel burning, free-standing room heater and, in some cases, also oven. As its name suggest, it is essentially of a metal box, made either of cast iron panels or sheets of welded steel, with or without legs. Internally, the stove may have a baffle to guide the hot combustion gases toward the flue and to swirl the gases around the fire chamber so that more of its heat is picked up by the metal walls and radiated into the living room.
Most box stoves have a fire-bed or basket enabling them to burn both wood and other types of solid fuel. More elaborate models may have a glass panel in the front door, or a hot-plate on the top surface for simple cooking.
The essential design element of the box stove is that it is air-tight, which allows the flow of air into the fire to be precisely regulated. A bottom vent, either in the form of a rotating plate or disk, or a sliding trap, provides the first line of control. A butterfly valve at the base of the flue regulates the rise of hot gases into the flue or chimney.
Box stoves can usually be fitted with simple water boilers with enough capacity to supply perhaps one or two radiators, or a minimal hot water supply. As inexpensive, basic heaters, they remain an excellent choice.