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Top Down Loading Method Rocks!

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by rudysmallfry, Dec 31, 2005.

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  1. rudysmallfry

    rudysmallfry Feeling the Heat

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    I was researching wood stove burning info on the web, and came across a new (to me anyway) method of starting a fire. Instead of putting the kindling on the bottom, and bigger stuff on top, you start with a row of large split logs along the bottom, medium sized pieces on top of that, and kindling on top. You light the kindling and it proceeds to ignite the stuff below it. It gets the fire to the safe burn temperature a lot quicker, you don't have to keep adding to the little kindling fire to get it going, and you get a nice hot bed of coals fairly quickly. I was able to get my soapstone up to 300 degrees within 30 minutes with this method. For anyone who is paranoid about creosote buildup as I am, and worries about that first hour when the fire just isn't that hot, give it a try. It's a trip.

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  2. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    been doing it since last year when marty said that's what he did it. it is the easiest way. cuts the smoke of starting down to almost nothing and if you didn't notice put a thermometer on the stack and the stove. you'll notice before the stove comes up to temp the chimney is on it's way. yesterday when i restarted the stack was 500 degrees and the stove was almost 200. that is al in about 20 to 30 minutes. and those of us with bi metallic spring primary air control you can set it and forget it. the stove comes up to temp and the air shuts it's self down. can't get anymore automatic than that. i've also found that that way of doing it gives me a very small but little longer burn time. i start a fire at ten at nite it's going strong by 11 and the stove is still going at 2 to 300 hundred at 8 in the morning

    happy new year
  3. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

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    interesting........i wonder if it matters what type of stove youre running? ive got an earth stove 2800ht and will give it a try.
  4. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    stove doesn't matter. the only thing i see that is different is don't crumble the news paper into a ball. roll a double sheet then tie it into a knot. the fire from the paper lasts longer. depending on your kindling you'll only need 5 to 6 knots. i've got away with 3 sometimes.
  5. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    dylan 's on the ball.

    that's the same as the frozen meal that's about to go in the oven and the person reads the directions and it says (take off plastic wrap before placing in oven)
  6. jch76

    jch76 New Member

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    I have tried a few top down fires and really like it. The one thing I have noticed is that if I load my firebox fairly full (Quadra-Fire Bodega Bay insert) the coals and ash from the kindling and smaller splits on top gather around the larger splits on the bottom and they have trouble burning. The fire doesn't go out, but I have had to move the larger pieces around so some air can get underneath them and burn. Otherwise, they just smolder.
    I'm not sure if this means I am doing something wrong or if it is really a problem. By that time, I'm sure that almost all of the moisture is gone from these logs and there can't be all that much creosote build up as a result.
  7. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    hi jch

    i usually try to make a flat top with a little air space on the top layer of splits for the hot coals to fall into. after a brisk fire of kindling it looks like the fire is dieing out but just leave it for 15 minutes and then check the thermometer and it usually is starting to take off. if your wood is not firing by then i would listen and see if there is any hissing and that is your answer. if not and your burning cement wood open your door 1/4 inch grab a coffee and wait for the thermometer to go to 350 or 400 then close er up. should be crankin by then.
    normally it's easy but like one of the other treads here about wood species some wood is hard to get going. that's what i refer to as cement block wood. the only type of wood i know of up here in mass that is extra easy to get going is yellow birch, it's shaggy bark and kind of stringy wood goes up easy. i've started fires with that wood without kindling. the splits were 6 to 7 inch by 24 inch long and boom instant fire. and the wood goes all night.
  8. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    i forgot

    i've loaded my fire box all the way and done top down no problem
    my fire box is big. i have a old vermont castings defiant holds 64 lbs of wood. i've filled it so that the paper is stuffed up against the top and lit it (no air tubes on the top) 27 years old, secondary burn is in a camber on the side
  9. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Tried the top down method in my cold soapstone this morning and .....

    IT WORKS GREAT!!!

    Thanks Guys!
  10. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    I guess I still need to get the hang of it...I tried a couple of weeks ago and nearly froze to death before the fire got going. My impression is that if you have all the newspaper, small kindling, large kindling, sticks, small splits, and large splits to make the perfect pyramid it would work pretty good, but with only some shredded paper, the mornings empty cereal box and a couple of splits of wood it didn't seem to work so well for me. I am gathering all the necessary wood sizes to give it another go, soon.

    The other issue is that since it has been getting a little colder recently, I usually stoke an 8-10" thick chunk of hedge in the firebox for an overnight burn. I throw this in around bedtime (11pm) which usually means I have a couple handfulls of coals left 18 hours later at 5pm the next night - when I get home and it is time to refire the stove. No paper required...just rake out the ashes and throw some dry wood on top of the coals.

    Corey
  11. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    hi corey

    once you get the hang of it you'll love it. make the top layer of splits flat, so the coals don't roll off and leave a little gap between the splits for the coals to fall into.
    the kindling i use is not all that big but the advantage is right now until i run out is i'm using the cut off's of a hardwood oak floor. but it is quicker with reg 2x4 studs. that the quickest way of getting it going. also i tried the cereal box. to slow. not hot enough. roll up 6 sheets of newspaper and tie them into a knot they last longer and make there own coals.
  12. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    I have been reading your top down method. It still sounds like a lot of prep and you still need to keep a EYE on it. I would be happy to send you guys free samples of my Super Cedar Firestarters if you email your shipping address. I would welcome your results. They might work as well with your top down method. I hired a Fire Forensics Lab. who states that the Super Cedar reaches 1200 degrees within 3 minutes. This should heat your stack faster I would think, In fact the Sud Chemie company who manufactures cats tell me that the Super Cedar improved the Kick Off faster by 20%. They also stated that they prolonged the life of their combusters because they burned so clean.

    Start with your large pieces and place the Super Cedar in between and light,or try your top down method with it.
    Supercedar.com
    forstarts@aol.com

    Thank you
    Thomas
  13. joshuaviktor

    joshuaviktor New Member

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    Ok, I'll bite. What are super cedar firestarters? Did you read the sticky post at the top in reference to commercial posters? And, whats in these firestarters?

    Joshua
  14. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Hello Joshua,

    Thank you for alerting me. Makes sense to me. I guess Iam just trying to start another fire! No more said!
    Thomas
  15. fbelec

    fbelec Minister of Fire

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    hi nw fuels

    as long as your not pushing something into someone face there is no reason you can't explain what they are and what there made of. if there is something new on the market that concerns wood burning we all want to learn about it.

    thanks for your reply

    btw top down is not alot of work it can be less time getting a fire going if you know how to do it.
    and like i said in the above post if you have a stove with a bimetallic coil on the primary air it's even less work.

    frank
  16. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    OK, Our unique blend of highly refined paraffin and western red cedar. We use a small % of the paraffin which allows the Super Cedar to start quickly and burn very hot and clean. These are the only paraffin based firestarter that have been approved and recommended by the Sud Chemie Pro Tec Company which manufactures Cat combusters. As stated above I would be happy to send you a sample.

    Don"t Panic
    Thomas
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