7 Tips for How to Get the Most Heat from a Wood Stove

Christine Herrington

Christine is our Chief Editor and a contributing writer to the site.

Last Updated on November 24, 2021

Whether you have a wood-burning stove in your home or use one when camping, you’ll know how cozy they can make you feel on a cold and damp evening. Wood stoves produce an incredible amount of heat, and they’ll make you feel cozy and content with their mesmerizing dancing flames. 

However, many people don’t experience the maximum benefits from their wood stove because they don’t know how to use their appliance effectively. Getting more heat from the same amount of fuel means you don’t need to keep adding wood to the fire, saving you money and hassle.

By following some simple tips, you can get the most heat from your wood stove. 

7 Tips for How to Get the Most Heat from a Wood Stove
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Table of Contents

1. Burn Well-Seasoned Wood

When learning how to get the most heat from a wood stove, the fuel type is crucial. Softwoods such as cedar, spruce, redwood, and pine, ignite and burn quicker than hardwoods such as oak, maple, hickory, and walnut. This characteristic makes softwoods an excellent choice for starting your stove fire

Once your fire is lit, and the flames are roaring, switch to adding hardwoods to the stove. They burn hotter and longer than softwoods. You should try to use well-seasoned wood that has dried over an extended period. This process allows moisture to evaporate, which results in easier ignition of the wood and increased heat production. 

You can use a moisture reader to determine how much water is present in your wood, but there are also visual signs if you don’t have one of these devices. You may notice the wood has a darker color, the bark is peeling, or the surface has split ends. 

2. Maintain a Strong Fire

If you let the fire die down, the heat level will naturally drop. If you place too much wood in your stove, this reduces oxygen circulation and makes it harder for the fire to ignite. The most effective method of maintaining a high consistent heat level is regularly adding two or three logs to your fire. 

If you have a poker, it’s a good idea to stoke the fire, encouraging oxygen flow to keep the fire lit. Ideally, you’ll have a layer of red-hot embers with a couple of logs sitting on top. 

3. Burn Room Temperature Wood

Cold wood takes longer to reach a combustible temperature, allowing time for the stove temperature to drop. If you can bring your firewood into your home about a day before lighting your stove, you’ll notice it ignites more quickly and burns hotter than wood that’s been out in the cold. 

Keeping your wood warm can be tricky if you’re camping, but you can wrap the logs in a towel and store them in a tent to prevent the fuel from getting too cold. 

stove burning at night

4. Close the Stove Door

Although you should keep the stove door open when lighting the fire because it will allow more oxygen to enter the chamber, it’s essential to close the door as soon as the fire takes hold. If you leave the door open, heat will escape through the aperture, and the logs will burn too quickly

Opening the door is necessary when adding more fuel, so it’s a good idea to add large logs to the fire. If you use smaller wood pieces, they’ll burn more quickly, and you’ll need to open the door more often to replenish the fuel supply.

Keeping the stove door closed as much as possible allows heat to build-up, and you can control the oxygen flow using the integrated air vents.

5. Master Air Vent Control

Your wood-burning stove may have multiple sets of air vents, and they allow you to control the oxygen flow into the fire and the resultant heat level. When lighting the fire, you can leave all the air vents open, but close the bottom vents to prevent the wood from burning too quickly when the fire becomes established. You can partially close the top vents and monitor how this affects your stove’s performance

Each stove is different, and it takes time to learn how your fire reacts to vents being open, closed, or adjusted to a partial opening. If you notice your fire is dying down, open the top vents halfway and check on the situation again in five minutes. 

You should only open the bottom vents if the fire is about to extinguish. With trial and error, you’ll soon be adjusting your wood stove vents like a pro.

6. Keep Your Stove Clean

When learning how to get the most heat from a wood stove, keeping the appliance clean is essential. Residual ash and burnt wood bits can block the air vents and reduce oxygen circulation, resulting in your fire producing less heat. 

It’s good practice to clean your wood stove after each use. You don’t need to make your appliance spotless, but any more than a couple centimeters of ash can negatively affect your stove’s performance. 

When you’re cleaning your stove, check to ensure the door seal is in good condition. If it becomes loose, it can let excess oxygen contact the logs and lead to faster burning times. The air vents should be the only access points for oxygen to enter the stove.

7. Ventilate Your Room

It may seem counterintuitive to open a window while you’re heating your room, but adequate ventilation is vital for encouraging air circulation. Your wood stove will receive more oxygen, and the fuel burns more consistently. 

When your fire becomes established, you can close the window. However, because wood stoves produce a lot of heat, you may find the room becomes too hot. You can often find the perfect temperature by lighting your wood stove and opening a window.

Get Cozy and Enjoy Your Wood Stove

When you learn how to maximize the heat level that your wood stove emits, you won’t have to stoke the fire as often, and you don’t have to use as much fuel. 

A beautiful appearance and high heat production capabilities make a wood stove an excellent addition to any home during the winter months. 

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