Lighting a wood burner is much easier than you might think.
I had tried many different ways but found this to be the best and most effective way of lighting my wood burner.
It prevents the fire from collapsing too early and smothering the fire (so you have to start again), and it enables air to get under the fire – as unless you happen to have a multifuel stove, there is no grate – the bottom of the stove is solid. It also allows the fire to progress naturally along the bottom of the stove. This makes adding logs easier initially until the fire is established so ensuring the fire is not smothered.
Place 3 or 4 pages of dry newspaper (I have found newspaper both lights and burns the best, although old envelopes, toilet and kitchen roll tubes and clean cardboard also work well), which have been folded to A5 size then twisted, into one corner of the stove.
It is very important to have dry newspaper – I made the mistake once of using slightly damp newspaper – the amount of smoke it produced was unreal! Almost as bad as a traditional coal fire – the paper smouldered rather than burned – I had to have the windows open for over an hour to get rid of the smoke – it was so bad it set off my smoke alarm!!
The twisting provides air pockets and also prevents the newspaper unravelling.
Next add 3 or 4 pieces of very dry wood or kindling – this needs to be extremely dry so it lights quickly – if it isn’t very dry, the newspaper will burn out before lighting the kindling so the fire goes out.
Place these in a wigwam type shape above the newspaper (see photo) – this allows air to circulate around the newspaper encouraging the fire to thrive.
Ideal width for kindling I have found is about 1.5-2 inches and about 6-8 inches long. Again if they are too wide there is not enough space for air to circulate around the fire. If it is too narrow it collapses too soon and smothers the fire. I found this out as a neighbour of ours is a keen woodworker and keeps all his off cuts for us as kindling but the very thin ones are little use as the burn out very quickly, collapse and put the fire out!
Next at the back on the opposite side add a larger piece of very dry wood – we had some leftover wood when we built our decking and also some pallet type wood which is ideal for this – again it lights quickly and allows the fire to establish itself.
Ensure both air vents are fully open.
Light the newspaper in many areas – leave the stove door ajar about 0.5-1 inch until kindling is alight – too much air with the door fully closed can out the fire out at an early stage.
Once kindling is alight closed the door fully.
Once the fire is established, add further logs as necessary.
I found the most useful purchase when we bought the stove was that of the stove pipe thermometer – this allows you to monitor the temperature the stove is operating at to ensure maximum efficiency.
Too low heat produces creosote which accumulates in the stove and also the chimney or flue which can be dangerous. Too high a heat can cause premature damage to the stove and its components.
This also allows you to constantly monitor the temperature accordingly during operation. Ideal temperature is between 325-500 degrees Fahrenheit.
I found it very surprising how controllable this stove actually was - by closing the bottom air vent you can control the temperature quite adequately. We try to keep ours burning at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. This is enough to adequately heat a 4 bedroom house.
Another useful tip when adding more wood is when you open the door, open it an inch for a couple of seconds – the updraft takes any smoke in the stove up the chimney or flue instead of into your room.
It is also useful to have a moisture meter to test the water content of any logs – wood with a water content of greater than 20% does not burn as well as the water is burned off first – again this can create more residue on your stove and flue or chimney.
On leaving the house (for example when I got o pick up my kids from school), I ensure the temperature of the fire is around 400 degrees Fahrenheit, close the bottom vent fully and the top air wash half way – this allows enough air to keep the fire smouldering until I return.
It usually only requires both vents opening on my return for the fire to burst into life again. Very occasionally I have had to give it a gentle stoke with a poker, add a piece of newspaper and a small piece of kindling to get it going again – this is usually if the temperature has dropped below 300 degrees.
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