Knowing Your Stove
So you’ve got your wood burning stove installed and are about to use it for the first time. Take some time to read the instructions carefully and follow any specific ones given to you. The next section will discuss the general procedure of lighting a stove but you should remember to follow any special instructions that came with the unit.
Know the parts of your stove well and inspect them all for cleanliness and functionality. The stove itself will be the body made of cast iron or steel. It will have a door that can be made of glass which opens and closes. It will also have dampers, drafts or air valves which control air flow. A stovepipe connects to a flue or chimney to let smoke out.
Check your wood as well. The lower the moisture content, the better it is. Seasoned hardwood and softwood can be used. But hardwood is used more often for general heating purposes. Softwood on the other hand burns faster but produces more creosote or soot.
Now that you know the basics of the stove and what goes in it, see the next section for the way to operate it.
Operating a Wood Burning Stove
Check that all the vents allow for a draw of air going into the chimney or flue. If air seems to be going into the room from the chimney, you can crumple some newspapers and place it near the stove pipe or flue. Light this up to start the right direction of airflow.
Start your stack by placing crumpled newspaper sheets at the stove floor. Lay your tinder or kindling on top of this. Then lay small pieces of firewood on top, followed by some larger pieces of firewood. This can go on till the stove is more than halfway full. Some like to add the larger pieces of firewood later, when the fire is already good and going. You can start with some small pieces first then add the larger pieces later when hot coals start to form.
Keep the door open and open the vents as well. When you can see the fire is sustained, you can close the door and adjust the vents accordingly.
Add logs when the fire has burned down to glowing embers and don’t add just one log. This makes better use of the energy that the stove now contains.
The fire will go out naturally, but if you’d like to shut off the fire immediately, you can close the vents. Ensure that you follow manufacturer specifications for doing this. Disposal of the coals, ash and ember should also be done according to directions and using containers that won’t catch fire.
- Use properly seasoned wood – fresh wood will burn slower and produce more smoke than heat. Seasoned wood has about 20% moisture. Most of the heat in the stove will be used to ignite the wood instead of in drying it down.
- Check the vents – keeping the fire going is all about maintain airflow. Too much opening in the vents will make the fire burn faster and hotter but will eat up wood faster too. Adjust accordingly, but don’t close the vents as this will smother the fire.
- Maintenance is Important – regularly cleaning as well as regularly using the stove make for an easier time in maintain a fire. Traditionally, wood stoves work best with a bed of ash still inside the stove. So unless specific directions are given, you may want to retain some ash inside for the fire to rest on. But cleaning the soot out of the chimney and sides of the stove is also important. Soot creates hazards in terms of pollution and accidental fires.