Burning wood made simple
It’s almost Christmas and frosty nights are moving in. Make no bones about it, Old Man Winter is here! Soon wood stoves and inserts across the country will rise to the occasion, heating our homes and warming our hearts all winter long. Make light work of building fires with this common sense advice.
It Takes Two to Tango
Good fires require two things – the right stove and the right wood. If you have an older stove or insert that’s not EPA-certified or built in this century, it’s inefficient. Period. Upgrade to a stove that’s EPA-certified and outfitted with the best wood-burning technologies like Quadra-Fire stoves. With minimal particulate emissions they are kinder to the environment, and a single load of wood will produce heat for many hours – provided you choose the best wood for burning.
Don’t expect great fires from poor quality wood. You need to know how to choose firewood. Broadleaf species like oak, ash, maple and hickory will burn the best and longest. There’s nothing wrong with softer woods like pine or cedar, but they tend to burn faster and have higher concentrations of sap, producing more smoke and sparks. Also, make sure logs are cut in 16- to 18-inch lengths – this is a good rule of thumb to ensure they fit into the stove for burning.
Make sure your wood, no matter what species, has been seasoned properly before attempting to burn it in your stove or insert. This process can’t be rushed. The best wood for burning has been cut, split and stacked for at least six months so it’s free of sap, no longer green, and very dry.
When it comes to learning how to build a fire, practice makes perfect. It’s done in stages and basic steps include opening the air controls, building and lighting a base of newspaper and kindling, ensuring there’s a draft up the flue, adding three to four logs and closing the door. Your Quadra-Fire stove or insert will do the rest. When it’s time to append the fire with more wood, don’t be stingy by adding just one log. Add two or three logs at a time so there’s more surface area to keep the fire burning.
Before hitting the hay, keep your stove warm all night by supplementing the fire with a few more logs – and pick thicker and bigger logs for this job. In the morning, a warm stove and coals will make stoking the fire faster and easier.