Wood-burning stoves are cost-effective and energy-efficient units, but you must make sure you learn how to set a fire properly if you want to get the most out of one of these models. If you don’t do this, you’ll find that your fire will burn out far too quickly or emit an excess amount of unpleasant soot or smoke.
Fortunately, there are several simple ways to improve your wood stove’s efficiency and light a fire that burns slowly, steadily, and safely for hours. From clearing out the excess ash in the firebox to laying the coal and wood in a suitable formation, here’s a rundown of how to keep your wood stove burning.
Before looking at how to keep a wood stove burning all night, it’s useful to explore the strengths of this type of heat source. These particular stoves burn wood and dried kindling to emit radiant and cozy heat. If you purchase a premium-grade wood stove, you won’t have to worry about breathing in harmful smoke or fumes. These models have integrated chimneys that direct the soot and vapor away from your living space.
Wood stoves are aesthetically pleasing, with their matte black finish and straight, functional lines. They’re also relatively easy to install anywhere in your home and are an excellent source of supplemental heat, saving you and your family money on gas and energy bills.
Also, these wood-burning units tend to be more efficient sources of heat than standard central heating and ventilation systems. That’s because radiant heat sources don’t experience minor or major pressure drops or losses in their duct systems. If you suffer from various allergies, you’ll likely prefer a radiant heating source like a wood stove to a forced air unit, as wood-burning models won’t circulate any pollutants or allergens around your living space.
As a fuel, wood is carbon-neutral, making wood stoves a more environmentally friendly form of heating than gas and coal-burning stoves or fireplaces. Also, if you live in a place that experiences power outages regularly, you’ll appreciate this form of heating because a wood stove doesn’t require any electricity or additional power to run effectively.
There are times when you might want to leave your wood stove burning through the night, like if you have a long overnight shift at work or if you don’t want to turn the central heating system on for a cold winter’s evening. It’s at times like these when you’ll need to know how to keep a wood stove burning all night.
Many people assume that you just have to pile larger logs or a greater quantity of wood and kindling into your wood stove to keep it burning for longer, but this tactic won’t work. Instead, the fire will burn bright, blazing through fuel quickly before dying right down after a short period. By contrast, if you lock the air inlet on the front or side of the unit and don’t allow any airflow to reach the flames, the fire will produce an excess amount of smoke.
If you want to keep your wood stove burning successfully and steadily throughout the night, you’ll need to follow these five simple steps.
Before you do anything else, you’ll need to use a shovel or heat-resistant brush to scrape the excess ash and embers from previous fires out of the base of the stove box. You don’t want to layer your coals and logs on top of a large amount of unusable ash and burnt charcoal. Remove most of this debris, but try to leave a thin layer of ash along the unit’s base: a little amount of charcoal can help the coal ignite more effectively when you initially light the fire.
Once you’ve cleared away most of the excess and unusable ash from the firebox base, you can add a layer of coal. When you do this, make sure you’re positioning the coal, so it’s toward the front of the base tray, just behind the stove door’s integrated air inlets. Coal requires a steady supply of airflow to burn efficiently, so you want to make sure the fuel is near the unit’s ventilation.
Try to avoid spreading the layer of coal across the base of the stove, as this will cause the wood to burn too brightly and too quickly, resulting in a quick and short fire.
Now that you’ve placed the coal properly, you’ll be stocking the logs. there should be a neat rectangular space at the back of the firebox. Take 1 or 2 large and seasoned logs and place these horizontally across the back of the stove. You can lay between 2 to 3 smaller pieces of wood on top of this larger log. You may have to add more little chunks of wood if you’re worried that the fire will die down overnight.
Once you’ve laid some of these small chunks on top of the larger log, fit the rest of the pieces horizontally around this log so that it’s adequately insulated: this helps the wood to burn longer.
Pick a slow-burning wood for this part of the process, like maple, ash, or oak. If you have an accurate moisture meter, use this tool to determine each log’s dryness. Don’t put anything on the fire that has a moisture content of over 20%.
Remember to always place the logs so they run parallel to the front of the stove. This formation means they won’t burn as quickly as those running perpendicular to the stove’s front. Ensure that a smaller piece of wood touches at least one of the coals before you light the fire.
Once you’ve lit the fire, open the air inlets up so that there’s a steady supply of oxygen flowing across the coal and wood. Keep this ventilation system open for around 30 minutes until the fire’s burning properly, then look through the front door’s window to inspect the state of the wood.
If there’s a thin layer of burnt, black charcoal on top of the logs, you’ll know that it’s time to reduce the airflow to the fire. Slide the air inlet so that it’s just marginally ajar: you don’t want to cut off the oxygen supply completely, or the fire will die out completely.
If you’re concerned that the fire is dying down, you can add some dried kindling or scrunched-up paper to the layer of coals. This helps heat the embers and keep the stove emitting a radiant and pleasant warmth throughout the night.
Whether you want to keep warm on a long and dark winter’s night or are having friends over to your place for a gathering that will go on to the early hours of the morning, you’ll want to keep your wood stove burning steadily and safely throughout the night.
Make sure you’re not leaving the fire unattended when the air inlets are fully open. Once the embers are dimming down and glowing orange, you can close the vents and head to bed.