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Get the Best Burn: A Guide to Lighting a Fire in your Log Burner

With the chilly nights rolling in, lots of people will be using their log burners for the first time. But how do you a light fire in a log burner? We have written this helpful guide to give you some top tips on how to get the best burn from your new stove.

1. Starting Point

To start with, if you have a wood-only stove, it is best to keep some ash at the bottom of your stove to make it easier to relight your new fire. The ash should not be towering in your stove, but safely lining the bottom of the stove. If you have an ash pan, which can be found in multi-fuel stoves, make sure that it is not full of ash. If the ash pan is too full this can reduce the airflow around the new fuel you are placing on the grate.

2. Equipment

When starting a new fire, you will need a few things: matches, firelighters/paper, dried kindling, small dried logs, and a poker. We would recommend using natural firelighters, such as Flamers. The poker will be handy once the fire has started to help you push logs into position and avoid getting too close to the stove. Depending on the type of stove handle you have, we would also recommend having a good pair of heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands.

3. Fuel

We always recommend using wood with less than 20% moisture content when starting a fire. Not only does this wood catch more easily and give you a more efficient burn, but it also reduces the risk of excessive smoke production. Hardwoods like hickory, oak, and ash burn hot for a long time but can be more expensive to purchase. Softwoods like spruce or pine are cheaper to purchase and will burn well if they are fully dried. When purchasing wood or smokeless coal always look out for the ‘Ready to Burn’ label.

4. Setting Up

To start with, make sure that the dampener, or the air vent, on the stove is open. This allows a good flow of oxygen into the stove while you are starting a fire. It is worth checking if you have a second dampener on the flue pipe and ensuring this is also open. It is not common for there to be a second dampener, and your stove installer should show you how to use this.

Top tip: Never fully close the dampener while a fire is burning. This will cause the fire to smoke excessively and produce creosote (tar). This tar will build up in your flue pipe over time increasing your risk of a chimney fire.

5. Lighting a Fire

Start by placing a few pieces of kindling on the bottom of the stove/grate. Allow some air gaps around each piece of kindling to improve air circulation. Then, place two or three small pieces of dried wood around the kindling in a tent shape. Once again, do not pack these too tightly together to allow airflow around the wood. Place one firelighter at the bottom of this pile, and light it carefully with a match. Close the door to the burner and keep an eye on it.

6. Keeping the Fire Burning

Once the kindling and small logs have caught alight, start slowly adding bigger pieces of dried wood. When adding the new piece of wood, try not to accidentally smother the flames, Put the log close to the fire but allow air to continue to circulate in the stove. Keep the door to the stove closed while in use as this helps to increase the burn efficiency and the overall heat output into the room. Keeping the door closed also ensures that gases from the fire safely exit out of the flue.

When the fire is burning well, adjust the dampener accordingly. If the gap is reduced, less oxygen will be getting to your flames. You may want to reduce the dampener if the fire is getting too hot, but don’t close it fully while a fire is burning.

Never leave a fire burning unattended. You should be monitoring the fire while it is in use. This means not leaving it to burn when you go to bed or leave the house.

Top tip: Never over-fill the stove with wood. This restricts the airflow within the stove making it difficult to sustain a good burn. This can also cause excessive smoke if the fire is being smothered.

7. Putting the Fire Out

To put out the fire, let it burn down until only embers are left. Avoid adding new fuel to the fire for at least an hour before you wish to put out the fire. When there are no more flames and the fuel is down to embers, close the dampener to prevent the flow of oxygen from getting to the embers. This will suffocate the embers and prevent reignition. Before leaving the house or going to bed, double-check that there is no smoke being emitted from any part of the stove, that all the seals are safely closed, and that the embers are showing no sign of reignition.

Bag of dried kindling.
Bag of Dried Kindling


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