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The A-maize-ing
Corn Heater Stove

copyright May 12, 2000 by
Don Magelitz

All Rights Reserved

A Lesson From History

What is a biomass fuel? Generally speaking, any dry commodity that will burn could be considered a biomass fuel.

These include, but are in no way limited to:

  • various cereal grains,
  • fruit pits,
  • plastic and wood pellets,
  • and a host of others.

We have Many More Words available on this subject...HEAT ENERGY OF ON-FARM FUEL SOURCES
SHELLED CORN7000 BTU/lb (16,200 kJ/kg) @ 15% MOISTURE CONTENT
STRAW6550 BTU/lb (15,200 kJ/kg) AIR DRIED
CORN STOVER7540 BTU/lb (17,500 kJ/kg) AIR DRIED
WOOD8000 BTU/lb (18,500 kJ/kg) AIR DRIED

 Behold the Corn Burning Stove in its radiant glory

With the heating devices on the market today, it is probably most accurate to define biomass fuel as any dry commodity that will burn, gravity flow and flow through a 2 inch diameter auger.  Dry, shelled corn is preferred because of price, and handling ease.  (The drier it is, the better it burns, and the cheaper the heat!)

When did heating with biomass fuel get started?

In the 1930s, during the depression, farmers realized they could not afford to take a year to raise their corn, then turn around and sell it for ten or twelve cents a bushel just to buy coal with the money.

To a degree that same scenario holds true today.

Follow this comparison and I think you will understand.

Corn has about 500,000 btu per bushel and propane has about 100,000 btu per gallon, hence a 5 to 1 ratio. If corn is worth $2.00 per bushel today, one would need to buy propane for 40 cents per gallon to come out ahead.

It’s highly unlikely that you will find propane at that price anywhere. On the other hand, I have a few customers around the country that are actually paid to haul off the biomass fuel that they bring home to burn.  

For example, in Arkansas every year there are tons and tons of rice by-products hauled out and burned just to get rid of them.  

Similar waste goes on in virtually every state.  Whole cities could be heated with what we are already throwing away.


Here are some more hot ideas that will warm you up Every area of the nation has some by-product which could be converted to heat if we would only take the time and a little conversion trouble. Virtually anything organic will burn, given enough heat. Coffee grounds will burn and produce wonderful heat once they are dried out. Then think about the leaves raked up each year to be burned on the spot, or hauled off and burned. Think of the trees the Highway Department cuts down every year, most of which are piled and burned. Think of the property cleared every year and the trees, twigs, and shrubbery piled up and burned.
A Waste! 

Think of the dead limbs and underbrush in our national forests, the fallen leaves that create such tremendous forest fires.  Think of all the old bills, junk mail and advertisements heaved our way, and hauled off as refuse when the burning of them would reduce our heating bills substantially.  

Think of the rice farmers and wheat farmers who regularly darken our skies by burning their fields every year.  Think of the dying kudzu that flashes so readily into flames and produces great heat.  

Package these free resources conveniently for the consumer 
to use and they will sell. 

Put our minds to the task and all this waste can be abolished.

There is no law that says the device which heats our homes must be inside; no law which says they must be small.  You can put your heater outside and get one big enough to heat two homes and the barn.  Instead of putting in little sticks of wood you can toss in whole logs.  Make it big enough and you could heat a city block from one source.   You can run heating pipes under the house and heat it from the bottom up.  You can run heating pipes inside the walls and heat your home from the outside in.  You can turn sunlight into heat.  You can save up to 80% on your heating bill by burning wood/coal but still have all the conveniences of gas or oil.  Electricity generated by sunlight, wind, or flowing water means no pollution, no outages, and no monthly power bills.  Use a residential geothermal heating system.  You can also  make your own biodiesel.  

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Where can one find biomass burning equipment?

You won't believe this, but it just so happens that I carry a full line of furnaces, boilers, and stoves.

cornflame.gif (37102 bytes)

Of course I have competitors who also offer quality equipment such as:

  • Stove, perhaps modified as a fireplace insert
  • Space heater
  • Hot air furnace
  • Hot water boiler
  • Grills that cook with corn

You will find most of these products for the home advertised as “corn stoves” or “pellet stoves”.

Propane is a colorless, odorless gas of the alkane series of hydrocarbons, of formula C3H8. It occurs in crude oil, in natural gas, and as a by-product of petroleum refining.

Propane burns in air.  It produces carbon dioxide and water as its final products, and has clean-burning properties.

About half the propane produced annually in the U.S. is used as a domestic and industrial fuel. When it is used as a fuel, propane is not separated from the related compounds, butane, ethane, and propylene.

Propane is used also as a so-called bottled gas, as a motor fuel, as a refrigerant, as a low-temperature solvent, and as a source of propylene and ethylene.

Corn burning stoves usually have a combustion air fan and a fuel stoker, both of which are not common in standard wood stove construction.

Please note: Because of the difference in btu content, one can burn pellets in a corn stove, but one cannot burn corn in a pellet stove.

When making a buying decision, ask about the feeding process of the stove.  If it uses electricity to power the fuel feeding then every time the electric goes off, your stove quits.

Biomass fuel suppliers can usually be found by asking questions of seed exhibitors at farm shows, or just looking around the area where you live for companies that throw away anything that burns.

Looking in your local phone book under US Government, Farm Service Agency, you should be able to find a long list of various producers near you.

Until recently, burning biomass fuel inside the home was a study in determining just how much frustration you could live with.  Heating with electricity, oil, or gas was far more convenient.

Today, one doesn’t give up very much convenience with dry fuels at all. A few seconds a day, or a few minutes a month is usually all that’s required for maintenance on most modern units.

Every year farmers already harvest, dry, convey, and store millions of bushels of corn. The Butler buildings, and all these things farmers use, are readily available to the public.

As I said here before, Economics is the chief motivating reason for switching to biomass fuel heating technology.

Other reasons include the fact that most biomass fuels are non-polluting, non-explosive, very renewable, and at least they keep the energy dollars in your community -- even if they don't always keep the money you save in your own pocket.

Drawbacks?  Being a fifteen year veteran of using biomass fuels, I have grown to love the economics of Biomass fuel. In all those years as a corn and soybean producer here in central Illinois, there was only one time that I had to burn some grain out of one of the bins.

To request more information or ask questions,
I can be reached in the following ways:
Mail, Don Magelitz, 13967 Thayer Rd. W. Waverly, IL 62692.
Email: Don Magelitz.
or phone 888-856-8540.

 Our home, office, garage, and shop
are all heated for about $100 per winter.

How much was your fuel bill?

Click HERE for a short article on fireplaces.
Click HERE for a short article singing the praises of electric stoves

The original corn stove was invented by Carroll Buckner of Arden, NC The corn stove produces renewable heat that can be used for both heating and cooking within the home. Buckner manufactures a corn fireplace, and *corn fireplace inserts* so that everyone's needs are fully met.  In the 1970's Carrol Buckner invented the BuckStove, a legendary wood stove that made the pot-bellied stove obsolete. 

The most famous demonstration of the stove was in the Presidential Oval Office, installed during the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Most corn burning stoves are qualified for a 30% Biomass Tax Credit!
In 2005, there were an estimated 65,000 corn pellet stoves in the US. In 2006 there were 150,000

Setup is as simple as venting a dryer. It does not have to draw air from inside the house for combustion, although frequently it is hooked up to an available chimney. Instead, it can draw air for combustion from outside, thus alleviating the usual dryness that afflicts homes heated with wood.

There is no need to clean the chimney each year. In fact, you do not need a chimney. A corn stove can be situated free standing and without a hearth next to an outside wall. A dryer-like vent is all that is required.

it is capable of producing 60,000 BTUs or more.

battery backup so it continues to heat my house when the electricity goes off

with our corn stove and backup power supply (an inverter that you connect to a car battery), you will be warm when no one else has back up heat at all!

Corn stoves burn cleaner, hotter, and less expensively than any other heater for your home.

Our 2010 model EMERALD Multi-Fuel Pellet Stove with our patented Energy BOOST System is currently being offered at the unbelievably low introductory price of only $899.99!!!

Corn stoves are designed to feed the burn unit automatically with the exact amount of fuel required to produce heat at a pre-set temperature.

A corn stove needs electricity to operate the auger and to blow the heat into the room.

With wood, it is a given that there is some dirt and other residue attached to the bark. Corn, on the other hand, should not be dirty.

Corn contains oil and ethanol, which burn cleaner than other fuels,

I'm a computer man.  When my computer hurts, my bank coughs up an Insufficient Funds Notice.  One thing that hurts a computer worse than anything is smoke.

Your common wood stove is worse about shooting smoke into the house than a fire place is.  Wood stoves are designed to shoot a lot of heat up the stove pipe on top of that.  Bugs come shooting out of fire wood and head for the darkest spots in the house.

I've used a lot of fuel to keep a fire going.  Old dead leaves can get a stove hot in a hurry.  Cooking oil works pretty good if you put it in an iron skillet and put the skillet inside the stove.  Corn kernels will heat up a wood stove too, use an old iron skillet, and for real heat, put a bigger skillet on top of that one.

When burned corn does not emit any carbon monoxide, By products, while running properly, are oxygen and nitrogen.A draft blower draws combustion air through and over the pellets and forces it outdoors.

corn can be replaced in three months time. Compare that to 30 years replacement time for trees, and 3000 years for oil, and you have one of America s largest and least expensive resources.

It takes 2.2 bushels of corn to produce one million BTUs of heat, at an average cost of $8.79. Producing that much heat by burning wood costs, on average, $22.07. (You can use other oil-bearing grains, too.)

A bushel of shelled corn provides four times the heat generated by a single gallon (3.78 liters) of propane, or 352,800 British Thermal Units (BTUs) compared to 91,500 BTUs.

A bushel of shelled corn provides four times the heat generated by a single gallon (3.78 liters) of propane, or 352,800 British Thermal Units (BTUs) compared to 91,500 BTUs.

you could heat your home with approximately a bushel a day

Corn weighs about 60 pounds per bushel You can buy it at any feed store or directly from a farmer.

Corn burns so cleanly that no smoke is seen emerging from the pipe outdoors; however, corn stoves don't burn as cleanly as wood pellet stoves and need to be cleaned out more often. Also, corn varies a lot more in its makeup and moisture content.

corn costs less to burn than all of the other fuels except for natural gas.