For some of us there is nothing quite like an open fire in an all masonry fireplace. If this describes you, and no amount of dire warnings by building science folks can dissuade you from this atavistic compulsion, then you are a likely candidate for a Rumford Fireplace.
Count Rumford (perhaps you’ve used his revolutionary baking powder invention) was an 18th century Renaissance man who did some serious thinking about the nature of heat and fireplace design. In his day, fireplaces were the common heating and cooking device for much of the world. Through observation and experimentation he came to understand that most fireplaces were improperly shaped and often larger then they needed to be. As a result they often did not draw well and much of the heat they produced was wasted.
He wrote a couple of essays detailing how fireplaces could be improved and his suggestions were widely adopted until fireplaces were displaced by steel and iron stoves and fossil fuels. Although there are many superior ways to heat with wood (see our masonry heaters for one of the best) a Rumford Fireplace does a pretty darn good job and is still the best design choice available in an open masonry fireplace.
Modern Rumford Fireplace construction by Gimme Shelter uses Superior Clay Corporation components and firebrick. A cast refractory throat and integral chimney damper form the critical components for good performance and long-term use.
Rumford Fireplaces can be included in a central masonry structure which might also include a masonry heater, wood-fired bake oven and cooking range. They can also be a good choice in an outdoor room or patio.