Light your fire
Modern stoves are different from older fireplaces, so you must use them in a slightly different way.
The traditional method of lighting a fire is from the base. It seems only logical: the flame licks upwards, so it must be sensible to put something on top of it if you want it to burn. Right? Well, yes. You will normally get your fire going that way. But if you want maximum heat and minimum emissions, you must actually light the fire from the top!
When you light from the top, the firebox itself heats up faster. This creates a good draw in both the flue and the chimney. A plentiful supply of oxygen is obviously good to get the fire going strongly. The flames at the top also heat up the logs underneath. The wood at the bottom then gives off gases which help the fire burn and keep it going.
- It is more environmentally friendly to burn with a visible flame. Fires without flames double the amount of carbon monoxide emissions and soot particles.
- Don’t use newspapers, magazines or cardboard boxes/cartons to light your fire. They create a lot of ash and steal oxygen. The printing ink is also harmful to the environment.
- Use firelighter bags or wood wool fire starters instead of briquettes. They are less harmful for your stove and easier to light a fire with.
Lay your fire correctly
- Use large logs at the bottom, then a mix of kindling and two or three firelighter bags at the top. Start at the back and stack forward so that the air can flow down along the glass and under the wood.
- Make sure your wood is dry! If you are not sure whether the wood is completely dry, bang two logs together. If it sounds like a baseball bat hitting a ball, the wood is ready for burning.
- Use firelighter bags to make sure the kindling at the top of your stack catches fire fast enough. This will prevent a lot of unnecessary smoke during the initial lighting phase.
Use enough wood
Many people are surprised by the amount of wood that is recommended when lighting a fire. We actually recommend that you start with 2–3 kg of finely chopped wood when lighting your fire. This is because modern, clean-burning stoves take longer to heat up the chimney, which is necessary to achieve a good draw of air. This, in turn, will help you to get the fire burning strongly, which will enable it to burn more efficiently.
Make sure you have a good air supply
Open all the vents in the stove and make sure enough air is coming into the house where the stove is located. It is also a good idea to turn off the kitchen fan and the ventilation system because these draw air out of the house and reduce the chimney’s draw. Leave the stove door ajar until the fire is burning merrily. This could take up to five minutes.
Don’t start closing any of the vents until the stove is really hot (after about 15 minutes). It is important not to close the vents so much that the flames die out.