1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Burning from the top down, possible?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by mass_burner, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. mass_burner

    mass_burner Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,221
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    I've read some online articles from guys swearing that lighting a fire from the top and letting burn downward is the way to go. I've tried it a few times and it didn't go so well. Is anyone doing this?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. rideau

    rideau Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2012
    Messages:
    1,963
    Loc:
    southern ontario
    There are lots of conversations on here about top down burning, with good detail on how to go about doing so,. One within the past week or so. You can search for them.

    Many of us use top down fires on occasion, some use them all the time. They work fine.
  3. USMC80

    USMC80 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Messages:
    842
    Loc:
    New Jersey
    I now use it for every start
    Lakeside likes this.
  4. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2010
    Messages:
    2,751
    Loc:
    Chittenden, VT
  5. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,191
    Loc:
    Northern ON
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,815
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Welcome to the forum mass_burner.

    Yes, there are folks who like it and there is a popular video about it. Still, many of us just go back to our old ways as we find it works best.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,665
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    First few times I tried it I failed . . . kept with it and now it's pretty much all I do. There is a bit of a skill in doing it.
  8. Treacherous

    Treacherous Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    970
    Loc:
    WA state
    Never enough room in my packed firebox with a 1/4 SC at bottom to try.
  9. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,330
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    Modified top down. SC chunk at the bottom between two big splits and then build top down from there. SC flames ignite the small stuff at the top and as it burns down the embers fall into the pocket between the big splits and the whole load takes off.
  10. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,625
    Loc:
    South Central Indiana
    Top Down Fire Starts
    Some bullet points about top down fire.

    • You should build a platform with your splits fill the stove up as much as possible but leave a little room at the top to put some small thin dry kindling.
    • By filling stove you have now left only a small space up around the secondary air tubes or baffle.
    • This small space that is left is easy to build heat than an almost empty stove with just just a little wood.
    • Put your fire starter up on or by the kindling. (NewsPaper, Super Cedar etc.)
    • The fire starter is now open to burn at a higher rate and heat up quicker with nothing piled on top of it.
    • Fire starter is up by the secondary air so it gets air to burn in the small space and the small space heats up quicker.
    • As its all about building the heat up quick and hot in that small space on top of the wood platform you built.
    • The kindling will ignite then the top of your splits at the top of the platform will then catch fire as the heat build quickly, its all about building heat.
    • Top down fire starts gives you less smoke at start up.
    • Did I note that its all about the heat
    • So lastly its all about the heat
    • Did I mention small spaces heat more easily and more quickly
    • Did I point out that wood catches fire from building the heat
    • Ok I will shut up
    • One more thing small kindling will burn with the door closed with less air and burn hot. So will super cedars.
    • Good kindling burning hot with the door shut builds heat better as less heat is flushed up the flue vs. open door that lets more air flow flush your heat up the flue.
  11. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    7,125
    Loc:
    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    Basically, if your using good dry wood, and once the firebox gets to temp, most stoves are truly burning from the top down anyways due to the secondaries.
    IMO your going to get smoke from fire starts & reloads regardless of how you start the fire. Your burning the wood either way, and until the box gets up to temp, its going to smoke.
  12. Coog

    Coog Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2012
    Messages:
    153
    Loc:
    North West Illinois
    I would to see the video.
  13. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Loc:
    N. California
    I don't emit enough smoke to get caught on no burn days, reloads, lots of smoke, and I have just built a small fire on top of reload splits to help burn the smoke. Top down is the way to go for cold start and not emitting smoke, small kindling on top with progressively larger splits 2-3 layers below. It is the heat and embers from the top dropping down that get it going,. not the flames, which are on top, helping to burn off smoke. It does take a bit longer to start, so it seems. Once I light a top down, I just come back in 10-20 minutes to close the air a bit, the same time I would be there building a bottom up on a cold start-without supercedars, of course. I don't need supercedars with a top down. We having roving patrols of air quality management people writing citation left and right.
  14. pyroholic

    pyroholic Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2013
    Messages:
    219
    Loc:
    Mid-Michigan
    No burn days? I never knew. Only in Cali. How often are there no burn days. Is this for air quality, or forest fires? What if you get cold on a no burn day? (And you don't want to burn anyway)
  15. Mr A

    Mr A Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2011
    Messages:
    597
    Loc:
    N. California
    It is for air quality and very biased and corrupt. Stated levels of PPM are often exaggerated, inflated to call a no burn day. This is documented by hearth business organizations. I heard this from a sweep I hired.
  16. mass_burner

    mass_burner Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,221
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    Thanks. I'll try again with all the tips offered here. Due to its flat, surface mount design, my Morso is very unforgiving about smoke escape when opening the door. So when I light it and close the door that has to be it until a good coal bed is established. My other Regency insert can be opened almost any time without smoke escape.
  17. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2006
    Messages:
    7,125
    Loc:
    Next to nuke plant Berwick, PA.
    Just light it the best way that works for you.
    Some use the top down, others don't.
    Just a matter of preference.
    firefighterjake likes this.
  18. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,815
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Then you are packing it way too tight. Fire needs a bit of room too.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,815
    Loc:
    Michigan

    This has been popular on this forum. Although I do not completely agree with how they are doing it, they have the right idea.

    Mr A and Huntindog1 like this.
  20. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6,562
    Loc:
    Philadelphia
    No one has mentioned downdraft stoves. Based on my own limited experience, I will state that top down does not work well in any stove where the exhaust port is located lower in the firebox.
  21. Treacherous

    Treacherous Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 13, 2010
    Messages:
    970
    Loc:
    WA state
    That is a little exaggeration on my part. There is some room to try it but bottom up works well enough for me. I'm often just interested in getting a cold cabin up to temp rather than wanting to experiment with something that may or may not work for me the first time. I might try it in the spring shoulder season though.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  22. mass_burner

    mass_burner Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,221
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    nice video. i'm stuck with east-west due to my stove's rectangular shape. but i love this technique because I always forget to lay in the starter until after I've stacked my load. and like she said, the starter has to fight through the wood stacked above it.

Share This Page