Bonk & Co.'s Guide To Lighting A Stove
As the days become colder and the nights draw in, your thoughts are probably turning to your trusty wood burning stove. Whether you have just had one installed, or have had one for many years, the first lighting of the season is always an exciting event. We’ve put together a simple step by step guide to how to light a wood burning stove, so that, whether you have a modern log burner, or an older stove you are all set for the colder days.
The hiss of striking a match, the warm glow as the kindling catches fire. Lighting your stove is a highlight of the day- whether you’re getting ready for a crisp morning or are hunkering down for the night, nothing beats that cosy, warm feeling.
To kindle the perfect fire, you will need:
- A couple of medium sized logs
- Natural fire lighter
- Protective gloves
Choosing Your Fuel
To begin with, make sure your fuel is dry. Wet fuel will not only take longer to catch fire and give less heat, but is also bad for your stove as you will need to fire it harder, which can damage the internals of the stove. Other side effects of wet fuel include blackened glass, smoking, and excess tarring of the flue.
To avoid this, make sure your firewood has been seasoned for at least two years, or that there is less than 18% moisture content- you can do this easily using a moisture meter.
You may have been taught how to light a fire using the traditional method of using rolled up newspaper, however for the best results we highly recommend using the ‘top-down’ method of lighting.
- Open your stove door (both of them if the stove has two doors).
- On a bed of ashes, build a Jenga-like tower. Use a couple of medium sized logs for the base, and build up, placing pieces of kindling on top, as you would a Jenga tower. Ideally the tower should be four or five stories high.
- Top off with a natural fire lighter, and you are all set!
- Before lighting, ensure the air vents on your stove are fully open (unless your stove has an autopilot system, in which case the stove will self-regulate the air intake). To begin with, you want to ensure that the fire has a good air supply, so that it catches well.
- Light the natural firelighter, and close the stove doors. You can now sit back, relax and enjoy the sight of a fire coming to life. You may be tempted to put another log on at this stage, but don't rush things. A fire, like all good things, requires time and nurturing for the best results.
- Allow the kindling and logs to burn down to a bed of embers before putting another log on. Once this has caught, slowly reduce the air intake for a softer fire. Refuel as and when the fire burns down to embers. Remember to always use protective gloves when refuelling your stove.
And that’s it! You are all set for a cosy time around the stove, whether that be a cold winter evening, or a fresh autumn morning.
Whatever you’re up to, your stove will be there to keep you warm!
Why Use The ‘Top-down’ Method?
This method is so effective because it preheats the flue. Having a warm flue is important for ensuring that the stove draws properly. Cold flues are one of the main causes of blow-back and smoking, so ensuring that the flue is nice and hot will help to prevent this. Using the top-down method also helps to build a lovely big bed of ashes which is perfect for refuelling.
Extra Top Tip!
Always leave a bed of ash (1-2”) on the base of your stove. This improves the burn of your fuel, and helps to insulate the stove and protect its parts from overheating and warping.