It’s no secret that not everyone who has a wood burning stove installed knows how to build a fire. Gone are the eras when every household had an open fireplace and everyone grew up taking their turn to start the daily fire. That’s why we’ve written a simple guide on how to store your firewood and how to build the perfect fire. Even if you’re not a complete beginner, these are some great hints and tips for everyone.
Storing Your Firewood
- Keep your logs as dry as possible. Do everything you can to keep your firewood from getting wet or damp. Many of our stoves and fireplaces come with a specially designed log storage area. Keen these clean and dry to prevent moisture build up especially if close to floor level. We also have a great range of freestanding log storage options. Even when storing logs indoors, you should still ensure you wood moisture levels are below 20% to optimise burning in your stove. Investing in a ‘moisture metre’ can be a reassuring way to quickly and easily assess the suitability of a log before you put it on the fire.
- Never stack your logs on the ground. As your firewood needs constant air circulation it needs to be raised, an old pallet makes an ideal base. These can be cut to size to suit indoor log storage areas.
- Make sure your logs are under cover. If you’re storing your log supply outdoors this is particularly important. If you use polythene to cover your logs keep one side open as logs need to breathe to avoid sweating.
- When building your log stack, start at the outer edge and work inwards, keeping the logs level, and avoid sloping in or out. In larger store areas corners should be created with one layer being laid at 90 degrees to the next, similar to the brickwork on the corner of a house.
Creating The Perfect Stove Fire
There are many ways to light a fire, and plenty of opinions on how and what to do. You may already have your method down to a tee, but if not, read on for an easy step-by-step guide to lighting your wood burning stove quickly and efficiently.
- Preparations. As previously mentioned, make sure your logs are dry and fully seasoned before you bring them indoors (if storing outdoors) and use a good mix of species, as they will burn at different rates (Read ‘Selecting Your Firewood’ for more information on this). Having a plentiful supply of firewood to hand is essential, especially on a cold, wet night. Keep a basket full of kindling wood close to the fire so that it’s ready for use at a moment’s notice.
- When building a fire in a wood-burning stove, start by opening the Air Controls fully to ensure the fire gets the air supply it needs to establish properly. There is an indicator at the top of many appliances to show which direction to move the control from closed to open. On some models the control is below the door.
- Now get set to build your fire. Choose some small to mid-sized seasoned logs. Place the medium sized logs on the fire bed with enough space between them for air to circulate.
- Now place some smaller logs across the larger ones below. Try not to lay all the pieces in the same direction. This will start to create the fuel stack in your stove, which when ignited from the top will create the draw the needed to get going. This is known as the ‘Top Down’ technique. This method is designed to speed up the time it takes to for the flue to warm up, increasing the draw and getting your logs burning beautifully and cleanly.
- Place an Eco firelighter in the centre of your stack. This will help the larger logs ignite when the fire burns down to them.
- On top of your logs, stack kindling in a similar fashion, crisscrossing each layer. You will need around 6 to 8 pieces of kindling for a standard stove, but if your stove has a tall firebox a few more layers can be added. Place another Eco firelighter on top of your kindling stack.
- To create the best possible conditions for the for the fire to burn, ignite the firelighter on top of the kindling. Leave the stove door slightly ajar to allow plenty of air to reach the flames.
- Once the kindling has started to catch, close the door. Your stove’s air controls should be fully open to allow as much combustion air in as possible.
- Wait for the logs to ignite and once they are burning well, set your stove’s air controls to normal running mode.
- Open the controls fully.
- Rake the embers over the grate to establish a glowing fire bed (if the fire bed is low add a small amount of kindling wood to help re-establish the fire.
- Place new logs in an open arrangement to allow oxygen to easily reach every part of the fire. Compact loading will make the wood burn slower; cause the fire to smoulder and produce more smoke.
- Burn the new logs at high output for 3-5 minutes before slowly closing down the air controls. Do not close the air controls until the fire is burning well.
- Refuel little and often for clean, efficient burning.
- Experience will establish the setting to suit your needs.
- Ensure your logs are well-seasoned and dry. Hardwood logs also have around twice the burning time of softwoods.
- Do not load logs above any log guard that is fitted, or any secondary air outlets in the back of the firebox.
- A bright and clean firebox indicates the stove is burning well.