A wood burning stove is both a great way to keep a room warm and a charming feature to add to your home. But many people, especially those who are new to wood burning stoves, struggle to keep it burning in the cleanest, most efficient way. There are several tips you can follow to ensure that your wood burning stove stays warm, clean and easy-to-use.
Don’t burn green wood. It is up to 50% water. Not only will it be harder to light, but it will not burn as warmly and will produce a lot more soot. This will make the inside of your stove dirty as well as flue supplies.
Ideally, wood should have been allowed to dry for at least one summer. Two summers is even better. If you source your own wood and it is quite fresh, be prepared to leave it for some months before using it.
If you are buying in wood, make sure you use a reputable dealer. This will ensure that you are supplied with good-quality wood that has been allowed to properly dry, and will be ready to burn by the time it reaches you. Looking into an accreditation scheme can help you make sure the wood is really as well-dried as the dealer claims.
As with any fire, firelighters or old newspaper can be used to get the flames going. Light these and place them under the wood to get things started.
Fires are easier to start on a bed of old ash. Don’t clean out your stove every time you intend to light it. Let 1-2 inches (25-50mm) of ash build up to light new fires on.
Don’t add new logs too often. Contrary to what you may think, this makes stoves burn less efficiently. The stove is cooled every time the door is opened, and also cooled by the fact the new wood needs heating. Let the old wood burn down almost to embers before adding more.
Wood burning stoves generally have two air controls; one at the top and one at the bottom. The bottom one feeds the burning wood, and the top one feeds the flames above.
Most of the heat comes not from the wood but from gases that escape and burn when the wood is heated. For this reason, the top air vent is more important. Open them both to get the flames going, then close the bottom vent and use the top one to control the fire.
Never close the top vent completely. This will starve your fire of air and make it produce smoke and soot. The inside and flue will get covered and clogged with dirt, and an unpleasant smell will be produced.
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