basic guide to wood burning

You should always read your stove user manual for correct guidance using stove specific details for the operation of your stove. The majority of stoves in the UK are “multi-fuel” even though the most common fuel burnt is wood logs. Stoves are not suitable for burning normal “house coal”. Manufacturers will specify “smokeless coals” only if using a coal based fuel.

  • Use plenty of small kindling/sticks or suitable firelighter so that the fire is quickly established. Small logs should go on top. Use wood with a moisture content of 20% or less. Look for the “Ready To Burn” logo when purchasing bags of fuel.
  • Set all air controls to fully open, light the fire and close the door.
  • Allow a reasonable burn time for 10-15 minutes. The flames should fill the box without being sucked up the chimney.
  • Re-fuel again with small logs and allow a few minutes to establish. Its only when these small logs are burning that full size logs should be added.
  • If your stove has more than 1 air control then this is the time to close the air to the bottom of the stove. This is often called the “Primary” air control. See the manufacturers instructions.
  • Once the “Primary” air control has been closed, the temperature will continue to rise. Using a flue pipe thermometer will help you know when you have reached the best temperature. If you are using a thermometer then aim for the middle of the “best operation” range.
  • Once you reach optimum temperature you may now be able to reduce the amount of air using the “Secondary” air control (Somtimes referred to as the “Airwash” control). Reducing this air will slow the rate of burn down but it is vital not to close it off too much. There should always be a reasonable amount of flame in the box and the glass should stay clear.
  • When the stove has been running at optimum temperature for 15 minutes or so, you can check to see if you have set the controls correctly by simply looking at the top of your chimney outside. If you can see smoke, then there is not enough air getting into the stove. Open the air control up a bit, allow the fire to build for a few minutes, then have another look.

Closing your controls correctly

do's and dont's

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BurnRight is the national consumer awareness campaign designed to help you get the most from your fire and fuel. Getting it right can save you money, make you safer, and significantly reduce unnecessary air pollution.

Click the BurnRight logo below to visit their website where you will find demonstration videos and further advice on how to run your stove efficiently.