Storing Your Firewood and Building A Perfect Stove Fire

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.

Refueling

  • 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.

Useful Tips

  • 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.

Selecting Firewoood For Your Fire Or Stove

The glow of a wood burning fire is a welcome sight on a chilly evening. The flickering flames, the cracking and popping of burning bark and the delightful smell of wood-smoke all help to forget the gloomy darkness outside. To help you achieve the best fire, we’ve put together some top tips on selecting what firewood to burn.

How to Choose Your Firewood

First things first, don’t even think about throwing just any ol’ log on the fire! We’ll explain why below. It’s important to remember that not every piece of timber makes good fuel. 

Hardwoods such as beech, oak, ash, birch, and most fruit trees are the best burning woods that will give you a hotter and longer burn time. These woods have the least sap and are generally cleaner to handle.

You should never burn salt-saturated drift wood, non-local wood or discarded woods that you’d usually take to the tip like coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood. Burning any of these can release toxic or harmful chemicals into the air.

You should also never burn green wood. Before burning any freshly cut wood it needs to season, this basically means dry out this process takes a minimum of six months. Freshly cut wood, called green wood, is loaded with sap (mostly water) and needs to dry out first. It’s hard to light and once you get it going, it burns very quickly and produces a lot of smoke. If you’re unsure if the wood you’re about to purchase is green, ask the seller when it was cut. You can also check the bark: firmly attached bark that’s still sticky with sap is a bad sign.

Softwoods such as pines and firs should also be avoided. These can burn very fast, don’t leave a lot of coals and produce a lot of smoke which, in the long run, would be damaging to your flue or chimney.

If purchasing from a supplier, be careful what size of firewood you buy. Any logs over 5 inches in diameter will need to be cut or split before burning. Whilst this can be great exercise, you will need room to chop and an axe. Also, be aware that kiln-dried logs are more expensive to buy, but they are not necessary for most wood burning stoves or fires. Another tip is to always look for the ‘Woodsure Ready To Burn’ label. This certification means the wood you are buying has a low moisture content, so you can be sure that the logs that you are burning are right for your stove.

Whether you decide to buy from a supplier, or source your own wood, the key is to only put good quality, clean, seasoned firewood in your stove or on your fire that is dry to the touch.

A Guide to How Different Hardwoods Burn:

The following is a short guide detailing how different hardwoods burn. With different aromas and burn speeds, it is important to consider this when selecting your wood to achieve the fire you desire.

Ash: Ash wood produces a steady flame in fires with a good heat and burns well. It will burn successfully on its own, so does not need to be burned in a mix of different species. Traditionally claims an ash fire is fit for royalty and said to be one of the best woods for burning.

Oak: Oak is the slowest wood to season, at approximately 2.5cm a year and ideally should be seasoned for a minimum of two years. Because of its density, it is slow to burn as firewood and is best used in a mix of faster-burning logs. It can help to keep the fire going on longer nights.

Birch: Birch makes excellent firewood, producing a good heat, although it burns relatively quickly, so in a fire, it’s best to use it in a mix of slower-burning woods, such as elm or oak. The bark on birch can be peeled off and used as a natural firelighter.

Beech: Beech is a superb burning firewood, although it has a high water content so needs to be dried well; ideally, it should be seasoned for three years before use. It does not need to be burned in a mix.

Cherry: Cherry burns slowly with a good heat output in a fire and gives off a lovely aroma. Needs to be well seasoned, again strips of the bark can also be used as natural firelighters.

Sycamore: Sycamore burns in a fire well when seasoned with a moderate heat output. It seasons very quickly, usually within just one year.

How to pick the right stove for you

Thinking about installing a stove in your home but unsure which fuel-type is right for you?

Here we look at one of the biggest questions when it comes to choosing a stove and how to pick what’s right for your home.


Like many house features, there are several factors to consider when planning for a stove
and the biggest question of all is what fuel do you want to burn or would you rather the
convenience of an electric model? Gas, wood-burning or multi-fuel? If you want to heat your room, and your stove isn’t purely for aesthetic purposes, then the type of fuel you chose will influence the style and choices available to you.

Our handy guide is broken down into fuel categories, helping you chose a stove that’s not only an eye-catching focal point but functions for your home too.


GAS and ELECTRIC For a fuss free flame, a gas or electric stove is always a winner. Modern designs are virtually indistinguishable from a wood or coal burning fire. Gas and electric stoves provide flames, or a flame effect, and heat, without the mess and storage requirements of other fuels. Electric stoves are an easy, plug in choice for home without a chimney or flue.


WOOD-BURNING
Are you concerned about having heat during power failure? One of the benefits of solid fuel
fires is they can operate during power cuts, when you need the heat the most. Up to 80% of
the heat generated by a wood-burning stove goes into the room and they continue to
radiate heat after the fire has gone out so you stay warmer for longer. Wood-burners are
the current favorite and can even be installed where there isn’t a fireplace.
Although burning all types of wood from hardwood logs (these give out most heat) to
softwood, there is a lot to learn what you can and can’t pop in the stove. Some wood can
release toxic gases and cause a build-up of resin in the hearth and flue. Look out for the
‘Ready to Burn’ logo when purchasing wood. This scheme is backed by the government and
it identifies that the logs contain no more than 20% moisture to reduce smoke and
emissions which contribute to air pollution.

MULTI-FUEL
Multi-fuel stoves are easy to clean and offer the greatest flexibility, burning a variety of
authorized fuels such as coal, wood and smokeless fuel. These stoves have a grate inside
them for the fuel to sit on, making them ideal for coal, which needs air to reach it to burn
efficiently. Wood on the other hand, burns best when sitting on a bed of ash with air circulating from above. Because of these differences, a multi-fuel stove may not be optimised for burning both fuel types at the same time.


TOP TIP

From 2022 all new wood-burning and multi-fuel stoves must meet new Ecodesign
legislation. This requires stoves to run at an efficiency of at least 75% and to have low
smoke emissions. Look out for the SIA Ecodesign Ready Label when making your selection.

SAFTEY FIRST
Whichever fuel you choose to burn (with the exception of electric stoves), they can all
produce carbon monoxide, so make sure you stay safe by fitting a carbon monoxide
detector in the room where your stove will be.