How to Start a Wood Fire in a Stove or Wood Insert
Do you know how to properly start a wood fire in a stove? To get the most heat out of your stove or insert, there is an exact science to be followed.
It starts with good seasoning!
Lighting a roaring fire all starts with good seasoning, a.k.a the wood used. This is very important because you want your fire to burn clean, with lots of heat, and very little smoke. Seasoned wood is commonly used indoors, but can be used outdoors for bonfires and regular fire pits as well. This firewood is very light in weight due to the lack of moisture within it. This is VERY important. A piece of firewood that is too dense will not light verily easily, while also causing smoke and different scents to disperse through your home.
Kindling is the next step. Traditional newspaper is the best because it is dry, and thin, but most importantly, very flammable. Magazines and catalogs are not good substitutes due to the thick paper that is used. The paper burns slowly and smokes very easily causing potential problems within your home.
Scrunch your newspaper up and make a layer on the bottom of your stove before laying the fire. Make sure you are using split wood when laying the fire, not round logs. Split wood is easier to much easier to light. Because round logs are very slow burning, they do not ignite easily. This is why it is best to save these for when you have a steady flame already going.
Stack them High
You want to lay the wood in a Jenga like pattern. Depending on the size, lay the first layer of logs vertical, with space in between each log. On the next layer stack logs horizontally. This is said to be a great approach because you want lots of exposed area of kindling to ignite when lit. This ensures your flame will rise at a steady pace and not go up in flames right away. With a Jenga like wood pattern it is easier to control how much wood you need to add to your fire gradually, making it last longer and burn brighter.
*With Napoleon's EPA technology and Secondary Air System, you will wan to lay the logs parallel with the secondary air flow tubes to allow air to reach the flames more easily. This will allow for a brighter burn and more heat capability.
Light it Up!
Check your stove to make sure it is set to allow the maximum amount of fresh air into the box. Wood stoves usually have a single lever burn control that regulates the air, which in return establishes the clean burn you desire. Oxygen is extremely important because the flames are attracted to it and will seek it out, fire requires oxygen to burn. Light the newspaper that you crumpled up at the front. Leave the door open for 3-5 minutes while everything is settling in. If the door is closed to quickly, the fire may be snuffed out. The same theory applies with a wood burning insert. Make sure the flue is slightly open allowing the fire to rise. If your unit has a screen or doors, leave them open for a little while before closing it all the way.
Close the Door, and Let it Go
Once your fire has been burning for a while, close the door and wait until the fire is really burning steadily. Let the stove or insert reach a steady 400 degrees Fahrenheit, this is a great temperature to maintain a steady fire. Before starting to shut it down, monitor how your fire is burning. a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes is required to reduce the heat and have a fire die down. Make sure your fire has been established before you start reducing the air, reducing the air too soon will cause smoke in your home. Try to refrain from having a smoldering fire. They are dangerous and will cause health hazards in your home from the creosote and smoke that is created. You also do not want to waste your firewood.
The ashes resulting from the fire in your stove or fireplace need to be cleaned our before using it again. Wait a full day before sweeping them up due to the ashes being hot and taking a long time to cool off. Use extreme caution by using a set of gloves. Use a sweep brush to place the ash in a metal bucket, and put it far away from your fireplace, hardwood flooring, carpet, or walls. You do not want a bucket of ash laying around for pets or kids to potentially get into. To be even more safe, take the ashes outside and place in your garden or yard.
NEVER leave an open wood stove or insert unattended. This is a serious fire hazard. A fire is much like a toddler, you must keep a close eye on it. Newspaper can fly and kindling can spark, you do not want to leave that to chance.