Tag Archive for: alternative lifestyles

Thermal Mass Wood Stove Brick Surround

Thermal Mass Wood Stove Brick Surround



A clay brick wood stove surround, designed to operate as a thermal mass heater and safety barrier.



  1. Allows for safe operation of a wood stove in small spaces. A wood stove can produce high heats and so requires quite a bit of its own protected space. In my 400 sqft home there would not have been enough room to operate a wood stove, without a fire resistant surround.
  2. Moderates heat output. The thermal mass of the wood stove surround helps create consistent heating. Although it takes some time to heat the clay brick, once it is warmed it radiates a more constant and comfortable warmth than a normal wood stove. A normal wood stove will produce a wider fluctuation in temperatures as the wood burns and then the stove cools.
  3. Possibly reduces wood consumption. Other authors report needing to feed their wood stove less often after installing a thermal mass surround. This is a convenience as well as a cost saving factor. I could not confirm this benefit, because it would not have been safe to use my wood stove without a surround.
  4. Feels safer with kids in the home. I was a little concerned about installing a wood stove in my one room home because of my kids. My son loves to use the home as a jungle gym and one inadvertent meeting with the stove could be a disaster. The brick surround gives me peace of mind that the kids are safer.


The idea for a thermal mass surround came to me after learning about thermal mass rocket stoves. In fact, it was a rocket stove that I first looked into installing in my small home. I decided against one because I could not find someone who could help me install it and who had had success with the technology in a small 3 ft X 3 ft space. I also had a wood stove available for free use. I decided to use the wood stove and optimize its performance using a thermal mass surround.


After some researching, I found two other people who had the same idea as myself. Both of these people had used cinder blocks for thermal mass. I learned that over time the cinder blocks crack from the heat. I was planning on a more-or-less permanent fixture, and so decided to use clay brick. I chose to use reclaimed, old style clay brick because it has a solid core. I got this idea from a website devoted to building traditional ovens. It mentioned that newer bricks handle heat poorly, but the old clay bricks are durable and much less expensive than firebricks.

After communicating with the guy who designed one thermal mass wood stove, I decided to build my wall 4 inches away from the stove. He had discovered through trial and error that that design performed better than pushing them right up against stove.

Brick Surround Without Stove

Brick Surround Without Stove


One potential disadvantage of this technology is that most wood stoves are specified to have more “breathing room” around them, than the 4 inches of space this surround provides. I found some heating contractors warning that the wood stove could “burn out” early. I, however, could not find a single report of this actually happening. To the contrary, both of the individuals with practical experience with thermal mass surrounds told me their stoves were operating nicely. One had been using the cinder block surround for over 5 years.

Another caution about a project like this, is to consider the need for reinforcing the floor. The weight of the wood stove and brick surround is considerable. This small home was built with 4X6 post and beams and so ultimately no further floor reinforcement was needed.

Last Word:

This was a costly project for me, especially in terms of time and effort. I’m not sure the thermal surround saves enough in wood consumption to offset the cost of the project. That being said, I’m loving the cozy, constant heat produced by this wood stove compared to the noisy, erratic vent-less gas furnace I previously used. That comfort factor alone made this project it worth it to me.

♥ My Little Cozy Home ♥

♥ My Little Cozy Home ♥

Cloud Formations over Casper Mountain

Cloud Formations over Casper Mountain


The Healthy Spirit Blog is devoted to providing resources which promote spiritual wellbeing.  It is the author’s goal that this blog touches on many different aspects of life and living, and in doing so truly offers a holistic approach to health and happiness.  For example this blog will cover the following categories and possibly many more:

  1. Holistic Medicine (natural remedies, healing techniques and alternative therapies)
  2. Alternative Lifestyles (sustainable living, permaculture, integrating life with nature, alternative energy and natural building ideas)
  3. Food (diet recommendations and recipes)
  4. Organic Gardening (composting and cultivating herbs, fruits and vegetables)
  5. Spirituality (spiritual principles and practices)
  6. Relationships (marriage, sexuality and love)
  7. Jobs (spiritually oriented businesses, jobs and career ideas)

Life on earth is meant to be enjoyed.  Yet everything in this physical world is temporary and meant to be used as a tool for spiritual progress.  The quality of our life experiences which naturally flow into our day are equal to the quality of experiences we bring to others.  Use everything in your life to nourish yourself and to become a better source of happiness for others.  As you learn to share love in deepening ways, you will also come to feel God’s presence in your life.  This is the most precious gift.  It can become a constant source of security and happiness, when in contrast you can expect to lose everything else in this physical world one day.

It is the author’s intentions that all who study and apply the content of this blog, as well as the other resources he offers, enjoy a real and palpable spiritual connection.  He hopes that all become more aware of God’s presence in their life’s and become uplifting members of their respective communities.