There’s nothing I dislike more during the winter than waking up cold. If you heat your home with a wood stove, then you know what I mean, unless you have a humongous stove that can be stocked full of enough wood to keep your home toasty and warm for an entire night. You can pack most wood stoves in such a way that you should at least wake up to a warm home and have enough embers to get another fire going in a short amount of time, you just have to know what you’re doing.
Seasoned vs Green Wood
Wood can either be seasoned (dry) or green (fresh). Seasoned wood burns faster than green wood and doesn’t produce as much creosote as green logs do. You don’t want to burn just green wood, because the resin build-up in your stove pipes can be enough to actually catch fire. On the other hand, if you burn only very dry wood, then you’ll have to add logs to the fire much more often. It’s best to burn a combination of seasoned and green logs for a long-lasting fire.
Positioning the Wood Inside the Stove
Tossing a huge pile of wood in the stove won’t guarantee you a night’s supply of warmth. You want to make sure there is enough air flow in between the pieces of wood to ensure a constant flame. It’s easy to smother your fire by putting too much wood in at once, especially when you’re using to green logs.
Get the fire started with some dry kindling and once you have a strong flame, place dry wood on top. I find the flame catches easier on the newly placed logs if I position them perpendicular to the direction the kindling is setting inside the stove. Make sure the dry logs catch before adding a some green wood to the pile. I generally fill the stove with 3 or 4 green logs, once the fire is going strong.
Adjusting the Airflow
Opening the flue all the way will allow lots of air to flow through the fire and up into the chimney. While this will cause your fire to burn nice and hot, it will also make it burn a lot faster. You want to have a steady heat all night long and not burn right through your pile of wood.
Depending on the type of stove you have, adjusting the flue might be a matter of trial and error. Typically, opening the flue half-way will allow enough air to flow across the fire so it doesn’t smother in the night. You might be able to get away with only leaving it open a quarter of the way, but you’ll want to test this out during the day when you can monitor the fire so you don’t wake up to icicles inside your home!
Keeping a Fire Going: Practice Makes Perfect
If heating with wood is new to you, then it might take time getting the hang of how to load the stove in order to keep it burning all night long. Keeping a fire burning for at least 7 to 8 hours without having to add more wood to it should ensure you with night-long warmth and enough embers to get a morning fire started easily. Just remember: take your time to criss-cross the kindling and logs, to allow adequate airflow and make sure you have a strong fire going before adding green logs.
Have you ever woken up to a freezing-cold home in winter?