Benjamin Franklin is a name associated with many things. As an inventor and founding father of the United States many inventions bear his name. The Franklin stove is one of these inventions. Many changes have been made to Franklin’s design but the basic look of his fireplace is the inspiration for the majority of fireplaces in homes across the United States. The original stove stood around thirty inches high. The cube shaped fire box is open on the front. The top of the box featured a decorative element that was found on all the originals and continues to be a defining feature of the Franklin stove.
The inverted siphon technology that Benjamin Franklin employed helped to carry more heat from the fire to the baffle was one of the fireplaces new design elements that set it apart form others that existed at the time. The benefit of having more heat delivered to the baffle is that the fireplace can more effectively heat the room. If you are not familiar with fireplace terminology a baffle is a box, usually toward the back of the fireplace. Usually this box was made out of cast iron. The baffle is the tool used to take in air from the room through an open bottom.
The air inside the baffle is heated when the flames flow over the out side of the cast iron box. As the air inside the hollow baffle heats up, it rises and flows out of two holes in the upper portion of the box. Benjamin Franklin is not credited with inventing the idea of heating air utilizing a baffle. Baffles were being used as early at 1619 in Germany. The inverted siphon was also a technology that had been researched in the 1600s. Many European designers employed u shaped tubes to help remove smoke from a fireplace and into the chimney. In Franklins stove the U shaped duct is inverted to extract the maximum amount of heat from the gases as they flow through the tubing on their way to the chimney.
These technologies helped people to reduce the pollution that was released into their homes by containing more smoke and more efficiently carrying pollutants out of the fireplace and into the chimney than other fireplace or stoves of that era. The decorative shield that adorned the front of the stove and covered the top portion of the fireplace opening also helped solve an important issue that caused concern in household everywhere prior to the Franklin stove. Sparks would often escape from the fireboxes of early fireplaces. Wood was the most common building material used in home construction at the time.
Almost all furniture, flooring, and house frames were made of this highly flammable material. When sparks managed to land on any of these items they would often start fires that would spread quickly. The protective shield helped lessen the chances dangerous sparks would escape. The stove created by Benjamin Franklin continues to be improved upon as new and innovative fireplace technology enters the market place.