Believe it or not, an asbestos board was used to moderate heat on early gas ranges

When the early gas ranges became popular in the early 20th century, they required some skill in operating them. 


Some of the advantages of a gas stove or range over one burning coal are

  • it saves time and labor
  • it does not heat the kitchen uncomfortably in summer, and
  • it is if managed with care, more economical because no fuel need be burned when the stove is not in use.

Connections – The range should be connected with the largest main pipe accessible (not less than one-half inch bore inside measure). If within six inches of the wall, the connecting pipe should be protected by zinc or tiling.

The range and its parts – A range of ordinary size has:

  • Four top burners, for saucepans, kettles, etc.
  • One or two sets of oven burners, for heating the ovens.
  • A baking oven, for bread, cake, and large roasts.
  • A broiling oven (below the burners) with rack and pan, for steaks, chops, etc., for small roasts, for toast, and for dishes to be browned.
  • Gas-cocks, one or more to each top burner, two to the oven burners, to regulate the supply of gas.
  • An oven lighter, or “pilot light,” at the right-hand side of the oven, for lighting the oven burners.
  • A stove-pipe, connected with the chimney, for carrying away gases produced by combustion.

The broiling oven is heated directly from the oven burners, the baking oven by currents of heated air passing around it, as in a coal range. Some ranges have a small top burner, called a simmering burner; all ranges should have a movable sheet of iron under the top burners. The connecting pipe is sometimes fitted with a gas-cock.

Air is admitted to the burner through holes in the supply pipes. This makes the gas burn with a blue and very hot flame.

Olive Kline cooking 1915 (Library of Congress)


Learn which pipes supply each burner; learn the position of each gas-cock, when open and when closed.

Range not is use

When the range is not in use keep all gas cocks closed, i.e. turned toward the right. It is not sufficient to turn off the gas by closing the cock in the connecting pipe only; if this is done, leaving other cocks open, the gas, when next turned on, will escape unlighted. If it escapes into the oven, a dangerous explosion is likely to take place, on lighting the oven burners.

How to light the gas range

To light a top burner, first, open the cock in connecting pipe by turning it to the left. then open the cock in the pipe supplying the burner, let the gas flow for two or three seconds, and apply lighted match or taper. If the burner is a double one, and you wish to light both parts, light one first; then turn the cock admitting gas to the other, and it will light from the first. To light the oven burners, first see that all stop-cocks regulating the supply of gas to the oven burners are closed, and that both oven doors are open. Now open the pilot light cock, and light the pilot light from the outside, through the hole made for this purpose; this done, open first one oven cock and then the other. Each set of burners will light with a slight explosive sound; when you see that both are burning blue and clear, turn off the pilot light. If the gas burns yellow with a roaring noise, it has “struck back,” and is burning in the air-chamber. Turn it off at once, let it flow a few seconds, and relight it.1

How to use the gas range

For broiling, toasting etc., have oven burners lighted and doors closed at least five minutes before using the oven. Place the rack and pan close under the burners.

For roasting in the broiling oven, observe the same rules and turn the roast frequently.

For baking, light the oven burners and close the door ten to fifteen minutes before putting in the food.

To avoid wasting gas

As soon as the contents of a kettle or saucepan boil, turn the gas down, and keep it as low as possible without checking the boiling. For simmering, turn still lower or use the simmering burner. When so little heat is required that the gas is in danger of going out, turn it up a little and moderate the heat by putting an asbestos board over it.

When the oven is sufficiently hot, close one oven cock, or partly close both.

Always turn off the gas the instant you are done using it, even it if is to be relighted; matches are cheaper than gas.


Elements of the Theory and Practice of Cookery, textbook by Mary E. Williams and Katharine Rolston Fisher, The Macmillan Company, 1913.

1In some ranges the supply of air may be regulated by turning a cap, which enlarges or decreases the size of the air-holes in the supply pipe.

VINEGAR OF THE FOUR THIEVES: Recipes & curious tips from the past

  • Have you heard excessive brain labor causes baldness or the cure for wrinkles is a tepid bath in bran?
  • Do you want to know Thomas Jefferson’s recipe for Vinegar of the Four Thieves or how to make Ox Tail Soup?
  • Have you ever had ‘blueberry pickles’, ‘batallia pie’ or ‘snow birds’? You will learn all this and more in “Vinegar of the Four Thieves.”

Our ancestors had to be resilient when they faced obstacles in daily life, from dealing with pests, medical emergencies, caring for clothing and cleaning shortcuts. Almost everything they used in daily life was homemade. Some ideas were great but some were very strange.

This book is a collection of household tips, medical cures, clothing care and old recipes from the 1800’s and 1900’s. Many of the tips, such as the household cleaners, cooking tips and ways to control pests, still work and are helpful in today’s ‘green’ environment while others such as ‘how to cure a dog of eating eggs’ will make you laugh. Either way, this book will help you appreciate the difficult life your grandparents endured. With Bonus: First two chapters of novel Ribbon of Love

About Donna R Causey

Donna R. Causey, resident of Alabama, was a teacher in the public school system for twenty years. When she retired, Donna found time to focus on her lifetime passion for historical writing. She cohost the Podcast: Alabama Grist Mill and developed the websites www.alabamapioneers and

All her books can be purchased at and Barnes & Noble.

She has authored numerous genealogy books.
RIBBON OF LOVE: A Novel Of Colonial America (TAPESTRY OF LOVE)
is her first novel in the Tapestry of Love about her family where she uses actual characters, facts, dates and places to create a story about life as it might have happened in colonial Virginia. Faith and Courage: Tapestry of Love (Volume 2)
is the second book and the third FreeHearts: A Novel of Colonial America (Book 3 in the Tapestry of Love Series)
Discordance: The Cottinghams (Volume 1)
is the continuation of the story. .

For a complete list of books, visit Donna R Causey

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