Wednesday 11 August 2010

How To Light A Wood Burning Stove

When lighting a stove for the first time it is important to allow time for the materials of the stove to adapt to the increased temperatures. For this reason it is normally recommended that a small fire be lit in the stove without excessive stoking for a period of 12 hours to allow the stove to adjust to the higher temperature and allowing the paint to fully cure. Failure to do so may result in the stove craking and no longer being fit for purpose.

These four simple steps should allow you to light your wood burning stove and operate the stove for maximum efficiency.

Step 1

Open all air controls fully

Step 2

Scrunch and roll up some newspaper and place it at the back of the stove, then carefully place a small amount of tinder or kindling over the newspaper and then cover this with some slightly larger pieces of wood. Then light the fire and close the door.

This stage is conventionally the smokiest stage of lighting a fire. This is because the stove is cold, the wood is cold, this draws all the heat out of the fire. All air controls are open to allow more air to the fire and produce a hot flame. This hot flame primes the chimney and helps produce the strong draft and drive the moisture out of the firewood, both required for an efficient fire.

Step 3
Allow this small starter fire to burn until all the wood is burning well. After this is possible to slowly add more pieces of wood.

It is essential, for the burning of an efficient fire, not to add too much fuel at once or make large changes to the air controls. Adding too much fuel can dramatically reduce the temperature of the fire and stove and release more smoke, which is wasted combustion materials and allow them to simply escape up the chimney. Gradual changes will help the fire burn more smoothly and efficiently.

Step 4
Once the fire is well established then the bottom air controls can be closed, allowing all the air to controlled from the top, this will help burn the wood more efficiently while also affording better control of the burn rate. The bottom air controls should remain closed once the stove is up and running but if the fire is left to burn and burns down to a low level then the bottom air controls may be reopened in an attempt to relight the fire. This is because wood burns more efficiently when air is supplied from above the firebed rather than beneath it, this allows the volatile gases from the wood to adequately mix with the oxygen to produce and efficient burn.

Other Information
Small, fiercly burning fires are hotter than a large smoldering fire as a wood fire releases more heat when the fire has a bright flame. The agitated state of the flames of a bright fire allows a more efficient mixing of combustible gases that are released from the wood and the fresh air, producing a more efficient burn.
The slow smoldering burn of a large fire releases large amounts of thick, dense smoke, this potential heat energy then either escapes up the chimney to pollute the outside air or clings to the side of the chimney. A wood burning fire should be bright with an agitated flame throughout the burn cycle until reduced to ask.
A wood burning fire works most efficiently between approximately 150°C and 350°C which provides the most efficient burn rate compared to hea output while also being the most economical and safest temperature operating range. Too low and the volatile combustion gases may condense on the cool chimney walls forming tar like deposits, these deposits can then quickly build up and ignite, starting a dangerous chimney fire. While over 300° a large amount of heat will be lost up the chimney and the excessive temperatures may cause damage to the stove resulting in cracking or ignite an existing build up of tar like deposits in the chimney.

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