Now that we have started the burning season and we have a lot of customers who are relatively new to wood burning, I would like to offer some tips about the safe and efficient burning of kiln dried logs.
Firstly, ensure that you get the stove hot enough – above 250 °F – as soon as possible because this is the optimal temperature for complete combustion. Secondly, maintain this heat so that you have an efficient and effective clean-burning fire.
Avoid any build-up of creosote
If you have started a very slow-burning fire in your airtight, modern stove with the vents damped/closed too much, it will produce flue temperatures of 100-200 °F.
This temperature is too low and will not carry all the unburned, combustible gases out into the atmosphere effectively. They will instead condense as creosote along the walls of the stovepipe and your chimney.
This is why it’s important to bring the initial temperature up quickly, to ensure your fire produces sufficient heat to remove the gases as the logs burn, and it needs to do this consistently.
Top tips for building up your fire and ensuring the vents supply sufficient oxygen
Building and then maintaining an efficient and effective fire means you need to burn just the right amount of fuel. It is, therefore, important to use good fire-building practices and provide sufficient oxygen control by using the vents. Here are twelve steps you can take to maximise the efficiency of your wood-burning stove:
- Only use kiln dried logs – never use part-seasoned or damp wood.
- Open all of the air vents at the beginning.
- Start your fire with both firelighters and dry kindling and then allow the kindling to burn fiercely for 5-10 minutes so that it warms your flue and creates a strong draw before you add your logs.
- Burn bright, hot fires and begin with some smaller logs.
- Arrange the logs so that the air can flow between them, without ever overfilling the stove.
- Keep all the air vents open fully until your stove has been operating at a heat higher than 300 °F for a quarter of an hour, then start closing them gradually at regular intervals. Doing this will slow down the burn and make sure more heat stays within the stove and less of it escapes up the flue. If you close your vents before this point you will starve the fire of oxygen during its warm-up phase. So wait until you can feel significant heat from the stove before you reduce the airflow, particularly when you’re burning oak or ash logs. Never close the vents entirely or try to shut them too much and always reassess how the fire is burning, and then adjust when necessary.
- Wait until the fire has burned right down to its glowing embers or the flue temperature has dropped to 300 °F (if you own a stove thermometer) before reloading.
- Reload the fire by adding at least a couple of logs each time. Make sure you don’t open your door too often, however, as the stove temperature will drop. Avoid adding one log at a time.
- Open the vents slightly for a short while after you have added more logs as this will help the combustion. Then close them slightly after several minutes.
- Open up your vents before you go to bed, so that your fire will burn cleanly overnight. Ensure you never leave the stove damped down heavily overnight as this causes creosote build-up and will hinder combustion.
- It is important to have your flue or chimney swept before each season begins to ensure that any deposits are removed. This will delight your chimney sweep who is sure to be impressed with your skills!