Running a Wood Burning Stove

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My buddy’s  stove

I’ve mentioned in the past that heating with a wood burning stove for the past 5 seasons, this is how I run my stove, your experiences may differ but, this is what works for me.

Seasoned Wood is a must!

I feel that proper use of a wood stove starts with properly seasoned wood. I’ve mentioned this before but nothing sucks the joy and utility out of burning wood like a smokey sizzling fire. It can be a dangerous to do for long periods of time as green wood really helps to build creosote.

Get a good fire going fast!

I like to get a fire started with a few pieces of kindling, some newspaper, and a bit of Fatwood. I stack the kindling at right angles to each other. This creates an area where I can put some newspaper and the fatwood inside. Before I light the fire I light a piece of newspaper and hold it up into my flue. I’ve heard this called “priming the flue”and it puts a bit of heat up there and seems to help with the draft. I then light my fire, leaving the door cracked for a few minutes while everything catches. Once it is all alight I close the door and let the initial stuff burn for 30-35 minutes. This lets the stove come up to temperature in a safe manner. This is the method my stove manufacturer recommended.

Proper Air Control.

With the fire burning nicely and the stove up to temperature, I’ll add a larger log or two. I’ll then back my air intake down to about 75% open. I prefer to burn a nice hot fire with lots of air, when I’m home and awake. I control the temp of the stove through adding more fuel instead of choking the fire down. I had a creosote clogged chimney once, so that is why I prefer a hot fire I keep an eye on, over a set it and forget it.

The Overnight Burn.

When it comes time for an overnight burn I’ll load the stove up half an hour before bed with well seasoned oak. Oak is the hardest wood commonly available to me and makes for a good fire. I burn this wide open for 15-20 minutes to let it all catch and then I back the air down to about 25%. This keeps the house warm all night and gives me a nice bed of coals to get the next days fire going. My stove manufacturer advertises 8-10 hour burn times but the best I’ve ever gotten are in the 6-7 hour range.

Figure Out What Works For You.

All it takes is a bit of trial and error to find out what works for you when it comes to running a wood burning stove.


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  1. says

    Nice post Mike. I need to get a wood stove. We have a fireplace but hardly ever use it because most of the heat goes right up the chimney.

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