build the fire upside down?

JP11 Posted By JP11, Oct 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM

  1. JP11

    Minister of Fire

    May 15, 2011
    Central Maine
    Forgive me a dumb question.

    Since my gasser is a downdraft...

    When I place a super-cedar on the bottom... aren't I not fighting the airflow?

    Wouldn't a few small splits on the top, with the supercedar placed there get the wood going better? If all the air in the firebox is traveling down... woudn't that nice supercedar flame travel DOWN and light the wood?

    I know.. too much time on my hands. Sitting in the hotel killing a few hours before work.

  2. jebatty

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 1, 2008
    Northern MN
    IMHO, top down is the best way to build a fire, whether in a gasifier or a wood stove.
  3. Clarkbug

    Minister of Fire

    Dec 20, 2010
    Upstate NY
    Thats how I have been lighting the boiler this year. kindling over the nozzle, super cedar, then some small splits. Light up, let the kindling get going, and possibly open the bypass to get the flames going up if needed. Works great.
  4. Fred61

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 26, 2008
    Southeastern Vt.
    That was always the way I started a fire in the Wood Gun because that was the only direction of the air flow. Up until the last few fires I built in the EKO last season, I stirred up the charcoal left in the burn chamber, laid a few small splits over the top and from below I lit it with a propane torch and then with the lower door open and upper bypass flap open, I allowed it to burn until the magnetic thermometer on the flue read about 350 or so and then latched the door, launched the combustion fan and shut the bypass. I felt I was wasting alot of time waiting there while this was happening and at my age, I don't want to leave it with the lower door open because I might forget about it, jump in the pick-up and go downtown. I found that what I was doing was burning away all that precious left over charcoal from the last fire and trying to make more with the new wood. I was also making alot of smoke out the chimney.
    What I am doing now is the same first steps which is stir out the grey ash, position the charcoal over the nozzle and place dry splits on top. (sounds like I'm making a salad) I then play the flame from the torch up through the nozzle until I see the glowing coals reflection on the center bricks. I then launch the combustion fan, close the door and activate the bypass. Instant gassification!! I can now walk away.
  5. infinitymike

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 23, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    If the firebox is completely empty, then I put some kindling down, then some newspaper, then some more kindling. I turn on the fan (which pulls air down over the wood) then I use a propane torch to light it up. I will then have to come back and start feeding small splits until I get a good coal bed.

    However, I almost never have a completely empty fire box. Like Fred, I usually have alot of good charcoal left. So I just use the torch from the top and light the coals and then throw splits on top and have instant gasification.
  6. stee6043

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 22, 2008
    West Michigan
    I've never had good luck with the top down method. I find I get an established coal bed quicker when starting from the bottom. While I do agree that these dowdrafters are burning "down" it is the coal bed at bottom of the fire, not the top, that creates good gasification.

    I always start from a clean, cold, empty upper chamber for what it's worth.
  7. skfire

    Feeling the Heat

    Nov 15, 2010


  8. maple1

    Minister of Fire

    Sep 15, 2011
    Nova Scotia
    I haven't been burning this thing long, but I agree with stee.

    One thing I've been doing differently lately (on a cold start), is just chucking a couple balls of paper in, some real fine kindling, & lighting just that little bit with the torch. It starts burning pretty quick - but while it's building, I leave the damper & door open, and continue gathering the rest of the wood and loading as the fire builds (usually requires a bit of re-splitting for the bottom layer). By the time I have all the wood in, the fire is going pretty good & I can shut the door, close the damper & it's gassing. Before I was building all the fire, then lighting - seemed to take it quite a while to get to the point where it would support gassing. Plus I would usually get a bit of bridging for the first little bit.
  9. kopeck

    Minister of Fire

    Mar 24, 2011
    Top down (or upside down) has always worked for me.

    The one thing I found was not to be too stingy with the news paper. The fan makes it burn up quick so having a fair amount in there helps get the kindling going.

    I don't get the propane torch up through the nozzle. I've tried it once or twice and it was a big pain IMHO. I just don't get laying on the floor to start a boiler.

  10. Fred61

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 26, 2008
    Southeastern Vt.
    I don't lay on the floor. I "huckle". Like pooping in the woods!

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