A kitchen stove, often called simply a stove or a cooker, is a kitchen appliance designed for the purpose of cooking food. Kitchen stoves rely on the application of direct heat for the cooking process and may also contain an oven, used for baking. "Cookstoves" (also called "cooking stoves" or "wood stoves") are heated by burning wood or charcoal; "gas stoves" are heated by gas; and "electric stoves" by electricity. A stove with a built-in cooktop is also called a range.
In the industrialized world, as stoves replaced open fires and braziers as a source of more efficient and reliable heating, models were developed that could also be used for cooking, and these came to be known as kitchen stoves. When homes began to be heated with central heating systems, there was less need for an appliance that served as both heat source and cooker and stand-alone cookers replaced them. Cooker and stove are often used interchangeably.
The fuel-burning stove is the most basic design of a kitchen stove. As of 2012, it was found that "Nearly half of the people in the world (mainly in the developing world), burn biomass (wood, charcoal, crop residues, and dung) and coal in rudimentary cookstoves or open fires to cook their food." More fuel-efficient and environmentally sound biomass cookstoves are being developed for use there.
Natural gas and electric stoves are the most common today in western countries. They are equally effective and safe, and the choice between the two is mostly a matter of personal preference and availability of utilities. Bottled gas ranges are used where utilities are unavailable.
Modern kitchen stoves often have a "stovetop" or "cooktop" (American English; known as the "hob" in British English) as well as an oven. A "drop-in range" is a combination stovetop-and-oven unit that installs in a kitchen's lower cabinets flush with the countertop. Most modern stoves come in a unit with built-in extractor hoods. Professional chefs often prefer gas stovetops, for they allow them to control the heat more finely and more quickly. Today's major brands offer both gas and electric stoves, and many also offer dual-fuel ranges combining a gas stovetop and an electric oven.
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