Starting the Fire
If your wood burning stove has an auto igniter, read the specific instructions of the unit. Auto igniters can help start the fire faster but will use electrical energy as well. You can follow the first two instructions to ensure proper air circulation.
- Fully open the air inlet as well as the damper. Basically, you turn the valves which let air in and out of the stove and into the flue to fully open. This will ensure that there is enough air to circulate and start the fire as well as let the smoke out.
- Open the stove door and check if the draft is going out towards the flue or into the room. If you feel a draft being pushed into the room you need to correct this. Crumple a few pieces of newspaper and place it in the stove very near the end of the stove pipe or flue. Light this up so air can heat up and start to move into the flue and out of the stove. This prevents a back draft which can cause smoke in your room.
- Start a stack by placing kindling (dry, small twigs and rolled and crumpled newspapers) at the center of a pile. You can stack up some small tinder or small pieces of firewood on top of the kindling. Make sure that the pile is still loose and will allow air to get in between. You can start to put some mid size pieces of wood as well, but just a couple of pieces. Light the newspapers.
- Once there’s a fire going, you can start to place larger pieces of firewood. Place these on top of the fire. Don’t overfill the box and add just a couple of pieces to the fire. You can add a bit more wood later to maintain a steady fire and heat. Take care not to overfill the stove.
- You can opt to keep the stove door open as well as all the vents until the fire starts to get good and going. Close the stove door and adjust the air vents gradually to control the fire.
Maintaining The Fire
Adjust the vents now and then to maintain the fire. You can close the damper as well as the inlets gradually until you get a comfortable fire going. You can add a bit more air if you feel that the fire needs to be revived a little. Add fire wood a couple at a time, not one by one. This conserves the heat more inside the stove.
The fire will go out naturally and gradually. Controlling the air vents will help make this process faster by smothering the fire or cutting out its air supply. Adjusting the vents or dampers can be somewhat tricky if you’re new to it, but you can practice and get used to it over time. Make sure that you have fire extinguishers nearby. In an emergency, sand can be used as well.