A cast iron stove is slower to warm up but will radiate heat much more evenly, often providing better control. They hold their heat for a long time after the fire has been extinguished. Originally stoves made of steel were less expensive and less sophisticated than those of cast iron. Today this is not really correct and many manufacturers are using a combination of materials to produce a high quality appliance which is both stylish and durable so the difference is really one of appearance; steel stoves tend to be of a more plain design and cast iron stoves tend to be heavier with more patterns in the design.