Starting and maintaining a fire in a wood burner.
The ancient art of fire keeping is one of the long lost arts, for reasons for that are perhaps easy to see; From electric & gas central heating, or air conditioning systems, to petroleum fire lighter blocks & petrol accelerants, to pocket lighters and matches. Who needs to be able to source rubbing and kindling and start a fire with sticks or flint anymore?
Any fool can burn down a forest with a careless match on a hot day, but can you light the fire on a wet evening with only a few matches, some cardboard and a few damp twigs? Have you got a back up supply of either wood/ fuel or fire starting equipment? Or more importantly perhaps, can you keep the fire going and keep the family warm no matter what? Year after year?
How to light the fire and get it burning hot.
The secret to lighting a fire easily is to start with small and dry twigs, or straw, paper or leaves etc, and gradually add bigger and bigger twigs, branches and pieces of wood as the fire takes hold. Don't add larger pieces too quickly or the fire could be starved of oxygen and go out.
Build your fire directly over the fire grate with tightly crumpled news paper, surround the paper with kindling in a even pattern leaving a space for a fire lighters if you're using any, at the front to light it. Ensure all air controls are fully opened.
Once the fire is burning well enough, close the door and gradually begin to close the air vents being careful not to restrict the air flow too much before the fire gets hold. As the fire builds up, gradually close off the vents so that the wood (or whatever fuel you are using) burns slower and more efficiently.
How to use your wood burner more efficiently;
Once you have made the investment in a wood stove or burner of any kind, the next best investment you can make is spending some time and practice to get it to burn as efficiently as possible. The rewards can be numerous including; less fuel is required, more heat, less effort carrying fuel around, less expense all round, less pollution (soot and ash, burning wood is carbon neutral) Less ash, less cleaning!
How to use the damper on your wood stove to get more heat & efficiency;
The damper is the mechanism for closing the chimney or flue, by closing the damper a little, you can greatly increase the amount of heat in the house and reduce the amount of wood you need by a huge amount.
Be careful though, you need to keep an eye out for smoke inside the house, close it too much and you could fill up the room with smoke. Get it just right and you should see the flames appear to be moving in slow motion. See this video for details;