How to light a woodburning stove?
We have had a woodburning stove for 15 years and we now have three. These are modern clean burning wood fires. Along the way I have discovered a lot of things to make it easy and quick to light the stove, and most importantly work every time. The secret is to build it upside down, it burns quicker and cleaner.
Previously we had burned a mixture of smokeless coal and wood but I have since learnt that the way forward is purely wood. Wood is cleaner, it leaves very little to clean up at the end of a burn and the glass keeps clean. Once you have some wood ash there are loads of things you can do with it. We use kiln dried Ash or 24 month seasoned hardwood which we get from the log shed. They are local to us and when they deliver they have a little crane which means the wood is delivered over the wall right next to the wood shed.
Kindling and firelighters, are key.
We buy big bags of kindling, collect all the twigs from our garden and store them in the log store. I have experimented with lots of different firelighters, they all light well but I am not keen on old school firelighters as they make your hands smell, and I don’t like unwrapping them and breaking them apart. Instead I use these balls of wood shavings in wax or the little bags of wax by Burner (bit slippy to balance but 100 sit in a small tub by the fire). Also considering making my own with pine cones and wax but that is another story.
Start with a bed of ash on the stove – yay no need to clean out the fire from the night before (the ash pan should be empty, however our fire creates so little ash less than a tsp after a days burn). Put two small logs on the base of the fire.
Then build a jenga tower of kindling. Three one way then three the other. Start with the biggest pieces of kindling and get smaller as you go up.
Now put the firelighter on top, light and close the door leaving it slightly ajar (1cm at most) to feed the fire. Fires need air and fuel to burn. To get the chimney to draw you need to get it warm. By building the fire upside down the heat is closer to the chimney and it burns off the gasses released by the wood as it burns downwards.
At this point your fire is lit, I leave it for ten minutes or until the stove thermometer reads 200f then I shut the door. As the fire burns the roof of the stove gets covered in soot and goes black but as it gets hotter this black soot burns off (I love watching this). Once the fire has reduced the wood to a pile of red embers I add another small log and hey presto you are off.
Don’t be tempted to put too much fuel on the fire at this stage, one or two logs at a time. If the fire looks to be struggling then just put a couple of sticks of kindling on the fire to get it going again (this shouldn’t happen). Here are two videos. The first shows the above pile set fire to and shows how ferocious the burn is and then if you fancy watching more there is a video of the dog enjoying the fire!