How to Build a Fire

A guide on how to efficiently and safely build a fire for outdoor wood burning stoves

Each outdoor wood stove user has his own technique on how to start a fire. While most may never bother of using a technique and would rather just toss any piece of wood in the stove, there are some efficient techniques on how to actually build a fire safely, a fire that confirms to standards on outdoor wood burning stove operation and a fire that follows rules on reducing environmental emissions.

After your stove has been installed

Once your outdoor wood burning stove is properly installed you need a few pointers on how to create an effective fire. An effective flame is efficient, will burn with the least amount of firewood and will never overlook the safety and efficiency of wood burning stoves. Best practices in using wood burning stoves are the following:

  • No matter how dry wood looks it still has about 50% water and therefore it has to be treated or seasoned to be able to provide the most efficient fire.
  • Season your wood outdoors under the hot summer sun for at least 6 months before burning it. You can tell that your wood is ready and is properly seasoned when it has a darker appearance, has cracks along the end and it sounds hollow when you hit it with another piece of wood.
  • Some outdoor wood burning stoves even recommend seasoning wood for at least one year to be able to get the most efficient fire.
  • Store your wood outdoors. It should be stacked neatly off the ground with the top covered so it can dry off really well. You may also store wood inside a barn or under a tarp if the weather is rainy or is very cold.
  • Start fires using clean and dry newspaper and dry kindling. Get a page and roll the newspaper into a tight roll so you won’t need to use more than enough newspaper just to start a fire.
  • Creosote could ruin the efficiency of your outdoor wood burning stove therefore you should avoid it. You can do this by maintaining the temperature of your stove to very hot or more than 400 degrees. You may use smaller fires during milder weather.
  • Best practice in starting fires recommends users to burn the fire into the coals and just as the coals are getting hotter, rake. Let the fire burn down to coals and afterwards rake the coals toward the air inlet creating a mound. Spreading the coals first or the coals flat will only create an inefficient fire.
  • How to reload wood in your stove? Reload your wood stove by adding at least three pieces of wood each time. Place the pieces of wood on and behind the mound of hot coals. Do not add one log at a time.
  • Remove ashes from the wood stove regularly into a metal container with a cover. Place ashes outdoors. You should never let ashes accumulate in the stove.

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