The best way to Light a Woodburning Stove

All you should have to start the fire in your wood burning stove is dry newspaper and kindling. You need to use dry softwood for kindling as it is less dense than hardwood and thus burns quicker. Add a lot of scrunched up single sheets of newspaper (although not scrunched up too tight or it will not ignite) and lay a good smattering of kindling tepee style against the newspaper. Light the paper at multiple points and virtually close the stove door.

The air inlets on your stove should all be completely open at this point and it’s usually advantageous to leave the door just ajar. The fire should be crackling away in almost no time and now larger pieces of wood can be added carefully. Be careful not to smother the fire with enormous pieces of wood. Your patience will pay off within minutes once your stove is going strongly.

Lighting a wood burning stove differs in one critical respect from lighting an outside fire. As well as initiating the fire itself, you are also preparing the flue which will be full of air and cold. Air is heavier than smoke and must be dislodged before your chimney will work. A cold chimney can slow down the initial flue gases to stalling speed and must be warmed up fast. Sometimes, in very colder weather conditions or with an exposed or uninsulated chimney, the flue will need warming up even before trying to light the fire, or you will fill the room with smoke. It can be surprising how little heat is a requirement to make a substantial difference between a healthy draw and a stubbornly resistant chimney. Either way, it is an straightforward fix.

Burn a good bunch of newspaper first, all at one time, then start again, adding kindling this time. Card ripped into strips and added judiciously to a young fire can mostly defeat the most recalcitrant of chimneys. Or you may also use a hair-dryer!

Some gurus advocate building your nest of kindling on top of a bed of logs (sometimes called an upside down fire). This is a great technique which optimises combustion and lowers the risk of falling down the fire thru piling logs on top.

There are many imaginative ways to arrange the kindling and it is likely that you’re going to shortly find your own favoured pattern.

The New Forest Woodburning Centre installs wood burning stoves across the counties of Hampshire and Dorset in UK. Their showroom has a good range of models to fit all requirements and tastes. Their staff are professionals and can inform you in the selection, installation, use and upkeep of wood burning stoves.


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