Here are some tips on how to make your wood burn slower and keeping your fire brighter for longer.
Warming yourself by your beautifully crafted wood burning stove is sure to be a favorite activity during the cold winter months, but if you are continually making trips to the wood shed to refuel the fire, your stove may be burning wood a bit too fast. If you would like to get the most out of your wood burning stove and enjoy it to the fullest, here are some tips on how to make your wood burn slower, preventing you from making so many trips for a wood refill.
Build Your Fire Slowly
Building a fire is not always as simple as it may look on television. It takes time to learn how to do it properly and if you are willing to invest the time in understanding fire building techniques, it will pay off tremendously through slower burning. The key to a good fire is to not rush things. Add wood slowly and keep in mind that air flow is essential to a strong fire within your unit. Rest logs at the base of the unit, but maintain space between each log. Experiment with a crosshatch wood design or even a t-pee style to see what works best for optimal air flow. Once your fire is strong, add one larger log at a time.
Proper Air Flow
Sometimes, a fast burning fire is not the fault of the wood or how it is placed in the stove but rather the air allowed to get to the flame. More air always means a higher flame and it is a good idea to maintain the highest level of air flow at the beginning of lighting to allow the flame to reach its full potential, but unless you are really needing a lot of heat, remember to adjust the lever down to control the level of the wood burning stove’s flame. A hot fire will stay hot for a very long time even when the air flow is backed off due to the tight cast iron construction of a modern wood stove.
Only Use Seasoned Wood
A novice wood stove owner may be under the misconception that they can simply chop a tree and begin burning the wood, but the high moisture content of freshly cut wood is not ideal for burning in any unit. Those that burn green wood run the risk of creating an excessive amount of creosote within their stove leading to a possible fire hazard. Seasoning wood is the best way to go.
The seasoning process takes time, but for a slower and more efficient burning experience is vital. Woods vary by density and moisture content. Depending on the variety of wood, seasoning can take anywhere from 6 months to 3 years. If you do not have that type of time, you can opt for kiln dried wood where seasoning time is cut in half. The big benefit to kiln dried wood is that it is designed to burn slower and cleaner than standard seasoned wood, but you will have to pay a bit more for kiln dried wood as it requires specific drying equipment.
Hardwoods are Best
Soft woods can be burned in your wood burning stove, but due to their low density interior makeup, they will likely burn much faster than hardwoods. Hardwoods burn best in any wood burning stove and examples of quality hardwoods are oak, maple, beech, and birch. Mixing hard and soft woods can often be the best solution for burning a bright hot flame that lasts longer than average. The benefit is that softwoods are more inexpensive, so mixing them will allow your hardwood supply to last longer throughout the winter.
Clean the Stove
It is unnecessary to completely overhaul clean your wood stove each time you use it, but a clean stove will burn wood much longer than a dirty one. The best time to clean your stove is during the morning just before lighting it up for the day. Sweep out old embers and soot with a brush, but leave just a small layer of ashes at the base of the burn box. This is not an essential thing, but provides an added layer of protection that many seasoned wood stove owners say attributes to added life to the entire unit.
Your wood burning stove will keep you and your family warm and comfortable during even the harshest of winters, and efficient, slow burning is always the way to go. These tips will help you get the most out of your wood this winter season. Keep it clean, only use seasoned wood, and always use a responsible wood purveyor. Happy burning!