How to use a woodburner

Lighting your woodburner is one of the most exciting parts of owning one. Everyone has their own method, and each stove will react differently to where you place the logs and get the fire going. Follow these simple steps to make sure you’re lighting your stove properly and getting as much time out of your fire as possible

The burning characteristics of each type of timber really do make a difference, so choosing a less dense wood, such as alder or birch, is a good choice to temper in your stove for the first five fires or so. A denser wood, such as ash or oak, is brilliant at keeping the fire going but it can be exasperating to get it burning well, particularly if the draw to the fire isn’t that good.

Related articles: How to clean a woodburner | Are woodburning stoves safe? | The ultimate guide to heating your home | How to install a wood burning stove

How to light a woodburner

  1. To get your fire going you’ll need dry kindling plus a good firelighter or balls of newspaper
  2. You need to open the air controls fully
  3. Take individual sheets of newspaper and scrunch them up into balls to create a layer on the grate or place the firelighter in the center
  4. Make a small pyramid of kindling on top of the paper or firelighter, leaving gaps between the wood to encourage air circulation
  5. Light the paper or firelighter in three or more places to make sure the fire burns evenly
  6. Wait for the fire to take hold of the kindling and add one or two small logs above the flames
  7. Close the door and allow the stove to breathe until there is a good glowing fire – it will take 10 minutes or so
  8. Adjust the air control and apply more fuel as and when necessary
Esteem gas stove from burley

The cast-aluminium Esteem gas stove from Burley has a heat output of 3kW and is available with a log or coal fuel bed effect. Priced £600

Man-made timber

If you want the woodburner on all night, a good fuel option is bark logs — these are man-made briquettes created purely from tree bark, which will last for many hours in a closed appliance, and, for an open fire, nothing can beat a good-quality smokeless fuel. Smokeless fuel flames don’t provide as much character in the fire like wood does, but do have a consistent heat output over a long period of time (six to eight hours or more).

Stratford wood burning boiler stove from Arada

The Stratford EBW12 is a 12kW woodburning boiler stove with a pre-heated airwash system for clean glass, plus a large viewing window, £1,999, Arada

How to season wood for a log burner

If you are thinking about seasoning your own wood for the woodburner, then make sure it is kept in a well-ventilated, open area so that air can get to all ends of the logs. Seasoning wood does take time — up to four or five years depending on the type of hardwood; softwoods are much quicker to release their moisture. The log pile will need a rain-proof cover on top as protection against the elements.

It can be difficult to detect when the wood is dry enough to burn. In order to save yourself the frustration of attempting to burn soggy wood, invest in a moisture metre, which will indicate moisture levels. Wood is usable once the moisture content is below 20 per cent.

If you have limited space for storing logs, buying kiln-dried wood is a good option. These professionally dried logs are perhaps the most popular way of purchasing fuel. Most homes will use 1-4 cubic metres per year, depending on individual usage. For local dried timber, expect to pay £80-£100 per cubic metre; for kiln-dried wood, £130 per cubic metre.

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