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How to burn wood efficiently

We’ve put together some top tips on how to burn wood efficiently this winter.

It is important to start thinking about getting your wood burning stoves ready and stocking up on wood for the coming months. We have put together some tips on how to burn wood efficiently, and how to get the most out of your wood burner over the winter months.

Should I get Kiln dried or Seasoned logs?

Firstly, it is important to prepare for the cold by sourcing wood that has been properly seasoned. This is an important step, as the moisture content needs to be under 20% to ensure a clean, efficient burn. Clean burning will be obvious, as the firebox will be bright and clean, clean door glass and no build-up of black tars in the stove or chimney.

Kiln dried logs are much more convenient to obtain and can be used immediately. Freshly cut logs will need to be correctly stored and seasoned before use which can take up to 2 years.

Seasoned logs will be easier to light and provide maximum heat output. When buying logs, always make sure you get a Woodsure and/or HETAS quality assurance certification for guaranteed quality.

How often do I need to clean my wood burner?

Once the logs have been bought, it’s important to have your chimney swept and your stove serviced before you start burning any wood. The chimney should be cleaned by a professional chimney sweep and on average, may need sweeping once or twice per year depending on use. The stove should be cleaned and serviced as detailed in the user instructions, with any damaged parts replaced before re-lighting the stove. This work can be completed by your local stove dealer using manufacturers replacement parts.

Caring for your chimney and wood burning stove is an important process and must become a habit to make sure you avoid damaging your chimney but also to make sure you get the most out of your wood burning stove.

How much wood do I need to use?

Once you’ve bought your logs, had the chimney swept and stove serviced, the next step is to get ready to light it. It is good to have more than one or two logs in a wood burner for a constant heat, but overloading it will have the opposite effect and the fire will not have enough air for clean combustion.

A fire should have a few cut, loosely stacked logs on it to make sure that there is a bigger surface area to burn. One large log will not burn well as the air will not circulate well for clean effective combustion.

Fire burning typically happens in three stages:

  • The first stage is when the water is burned off – and this is why using dry logs is much better, as not only it burns cleaner with dry logs, but the quicker this stage is over, the quicker the stove will be able to get hot.
  • Stages two and three are all about getting the fire up to a good temperature. Any gasses are driven off in stage two and when the ‘charcoal burn’ occurs in stage three you will be able to see embers glowing.

Do I need to think about air in the wood burner?

Once the correct amount of logs have been stacked onto the wood burner, it is important to make sure that there is enough air in the firebox to ignite and maintain a healthy fire. We would suggest that all of the air controls are open and you can leave the door slightly ajar as the fire establishes. The product user instructions will give more details about the efficient use of the controls.

Having the correct amount of air in the key areas of the firebox, combined with the correct log loading, will ensure a clean burning and long lasting fire. Refuelling little and often is a good way to achieve this, and experience will enable you to find the best settings for your stove.

What’s next once I’ve done all the prep work?

If you have followed the above instructions, as well as consulted your manual to get more specific information about your particular stove, you’re ready to go!

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