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How to use your wood burner

One of the most important piece of advice on burning wood on a wood burning stove is to make sure that the wood is well dried, with a moisture content of below 20%. Burning wood that is not properly dried not only makes it an inefficient fuel source for your burner, but also produces tar that can build up in your flue, reducing the size and making it more difficult for fumes and smoke to escape, which can lead to dangerous fumes escaping into your room, and also cause a chimney fire.

Remember that wood burns best on a bed of its own ash- you do not have to clean it out before every use. The most effective technique for building the fire is to make a small stacked structure of wood by basically making a hash tag out of stacked kindling around a fire lighter with one single log on the top, bark side down.

A lot of people keep their store of logs outside, in a purpose built wood store. This is fine and enables quite a large quantity of wood to be stored. However, a common mistake is bringing a dry but cold log in from outside, chucking it straight on the stove and then wondering why the stove has died down. A log brought in from the cold will take a long time to reach a combustible temperature, absorbing a lot of the accumulated heat within the firebox of the stove. The stove will then take some time to get back up to temperature. It is best to bring an evenings supply of logs in from the cold, keep these close to the stove, but not to near. Ideally in a basket next to the hearth of the stove to warm up and then feed the fire from these.

Another common mistake is feeding the fire too often, or keeping the door open for too long when feeding the fire. Every time the door of the stove is opened, accumulated heat is lost from the firebox that has to be built up again to get the stove up to its proper and most efficient running temperature. Try to minimise the amount of times that the stove door is opened. Refuel the fire and let the logs burn right down to hot embers before refuelling.

When refuelling your stove, avoid the temptation to pack it full of logs, one or two logs should be sufficient and allows for plenty of air movement within the stove.

Can you burn coal in a wood burning stove?

The answer is 'NO'.

Wood burning stoves are designed to be used with wood – not coal. The issue is in the design: stoves for burning wood have a flat plate. This is because wood only requires air from above in order to burn.

Coal needs to be burned on a raised grate as it requires air from below, and burns from the bottom, wood burns from the top, as well as an escape route, especially to stop the ash accumulating. So you would not get an efficient burn causing lots of unburnt gases and embers to rise up into the flue, causing damage and fire risk.

Below is a general guide on how to get your wood burner started.

The best way to learn to use your stove is to practice with it. Follow the instructions given and make sure you use the correct aged and seasoned timber. We recommend kiln dried fire wood, nothing that has been treated with varnish, paints etc as this gives off highly toxic fumes and damages your liner, like old bits of furniture and shelving and nothing with nails in, (fence panels).

  • Prepare your stove – ensure that the fire has had a previous and good air supply.

  • Make a fire bed – you should place your firelighters or paper and dry kindling wood on your fire bed. You will need to have plenty of kindling in order to create a successful fire – don’t assume you can do without it

  • Lighting your fire – you should wait for the kindling to catch fire and then allow it to begin to burn. It’s important to have a log guard, as this will keep all the burning fuel inside and away from the glass

  • Leave the door slightly open – a small detail but can be a crucial one – leaving the door slightly open helps the flue pull and actually helps you to light the fire. It also avoids the build up of condensation on the front of the glass. In some cases, however, depending on make, model and age of your stove, it is better to shut the door as this reduces the amount of airflow so speeds up the air that does come through and this can help get the fire going.

  • Add larger pieces gradually – as soon as the kindling is burning well you should add larger pieces of split wood. However, do not add full logs immediately – you need to build up the fire gradually and ensure that you do not smother it

  • Monitor Air Flow – Most wood burners have multiple ways to adjust the airflow. Once the fire is burning well, you can reduce the amount of airflow. This will prevent the wood from burning too fast. But only slow the airflow once the fire is burning well. As the fire gets hotter and more established you can slow the air right down which will mean the wood burns slowly and efficiently. if you slow the air too soon it could kill the fire so monitor it carefully.

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