Hearth News

Learn Helpful Tips & Tricks from the Community


Kuuma VaporFire Wood Gasification Furnace - The VaporFire 100 and VaporFire 200 are indoor hot air furnaces designed to eliminate wood smoke, creosote and air pollution at the same time AND provide more heat to your home for each pound of wood burned. Click for info.
There are a number of types of manufactured logs available today. Many are made from sawdust and wax and are therefore not suitable for use in closed stoves. However, certain brands such as Presto, North Idaho and Eco are tested for use in both open fireplaces and closed stoves. Presto and North Idaho are just two of the brands which are made from 100% pressed wood - no additives!

As of the time of this writing, 100% wood pressed logs were more readily available in Western States, probably because of the large quantity of sawdust from lumbering operations there. Hopefully this trend will spread to other parts of the country as wood burning becomes more popular as a way to save money and gain energy independence.

Our thanks to Duraflame for the information below, which pertains to firelogs with wax additives.


The manufactured firelog is an example of how recycling can work. It was created in the 1960’s when companies were seeking a productive way to dispose of waste sawdust. Manufactured firelogs combine two industrial byproducts, sawdust and petroleum wax, which are mixed and extruded into familiar log like shapes. Manufactured firelogs are generally individually wrapped with paper and require no kindling or starting material. This convenient manufactured fireplace fuel product provides a safe, environmentally responsible alternative to firewood and natural gas logs.

Firelogs are easy to light and perform much like a candle with the sawdust particles serving as the wick, and the wax as the fuel. The result is a longer, more consistent burn than cord wood that almost fully consumes the firelog, leaving little ash to clean up after the firelog is finished burning. Their ease of use, physical cleanliness, attractive flame, and good quality fire have made their use in fireplaces very popular, creating an annual national demand of approximately 90 million logs.


Many areas of the country are enacting...
Some Folks say that “there’s no fuel like an old fuel” and these words definitely pertain to our favorite fuel—Wood.

Wood just seems to have more “soul” than many other fuels and it can be used in a tremendous variety of ways. Wood is truly a renewable fuel. The heat released from wood is actually stored solar energy—released from its bounds when consumed in a stove. Our country has vast resources of wood. Properly managed, these forests could provide large fuel wood supplies forever. In addition, the new EPA approved stoves burn wood cleaner and more efficiently than ever before. As older stoves are replaced with newer ones, any concerns about “wood smoke pollution” will quickly fade.

Types of Wood Burning Products

Wood Burning Stoves, Freestanding—New EPA approved clean burning stoves are now available in many styles, sizes and colors. These are perfect replacements for older stoves or to add heat and ambiance to any part of your home.

Wood Burning Fireplace Inserts—There are a wide selection of units which will fit into your existing fireplaces and turn it into a “heating machine.” Many Freestanding Stoves will also sit on an existing fireplace hearth and vent up the chimney.

Wood Burning Fireplaces—Two types are available. Zero Clearance wood burning fireplaces that make it easy to add a fireplace to your existing home. Prices for complete Zero Clearance fireplaces are very reasonable. There is also a new breed of fireplace—the so-called “Built-in-Stoves.” These are heavy-duty units which heat like a stove, but are built into a wall like a fireplace.

Wood Burning Central Heat—Some Hearth dealers carry Wood Burning and Multi-Fuel (Burn oil, gas, wood,coal—all in one unit) furnaces and boilers. This provides a good alternative for the serious woodburner who wants to keep all the mess in a basement or garage / outbuilding—and heat the house evenly through duct work or baseboard radiators....
History of Fire


Throughout the centuries there has been such an intimate connection of fire with the cultural growth of humanity that whatever relates to the antiquity of fire is important in tracing- the history of early progress.’ And because all inventions make use of what has gone before, the steps, which lead up to the making of the first stoves, are necessary in writing of their history. Logically, of course, we may assume there was once a time when man had no fire, but very early he must have become acquainted with fire derived from natural sources, and made use of it; for no remains of man’s art show him without fire as his companion. Much later in the scheme of things he invented processes for making fire artificially.


Many of the legends or myths relating to the origin of fire are vivid and dramatic, and while they vary in detail there appears to be a similarity in many of the episodes that form the fire-origin story in all countries of the world.’ Stealing fire from the gods, one of the first incidents, was made more or less exciting by the strategy employed in acquiring, it. Prometheus, for example, stole fire from the heavens in a hollow tube, one of the feats which gave him the reputation of being a great benefactor of men.’ After the transportation of fire was solved, it was occasionally borrowed, and while the meaning is lost, the phrase is still used when one says: “May I borrow a light?”’


With the acquisition of fire came the problem of preserving, it and interesting examples of the ingenuity of man were presented. First, the fire was buried; preserved in the ashes of the fire itself. Next, a type of slow-match or fire-stick was developed, and later, when man worked with metals, the...
Wood Stoves and Fireplaces WOOD - K VALUES - WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Most people have heard of R-Values, which are used for rating common building materials such as fiberglass insulation and glass. However, many texts which cover stoves and fireplaces use K-Values instead of R-Values. Although the two are somewhat related, there are differences.

R-Value: The higher the R-Value, the better the insulating properties of the subject materials. R-Values are most often used to express the thermal resistance (ability to stop heat flow) of a building wall, ceiling or floor. Because of this, most R-Values are calculated at normal temperatures of approx. 75 F. R-Values are easy to add together so calculating the total R-Value of a wall is simply done by adding the values for the sheetrock, insulation, sheathing and siding.

K-value is a measure of heat conductivity of a particular material. Specifically, it is the measure of the amount of heat, in BTUs per hour, that will be transmitted through one square foot of material that is one inch thick to cause a temperature change of one degree Fahrenheit from one side of the material to the other. The lower the K-value for a material, the better it insulates. If the K-value of the material is known, the R-value per inch can be determined by dividing 1 by the K-value (R-value per inch = 1/K value). The LOWER a K-Value, the better its performance as an insulator.

R or K values have nothing to do with whether a material is flame proof, flame resistant or combustible. Styrofoam, cork, wood and polyester are just some examples of materials which are good insulators but will burn or smoke dangerously when exposed to excess heat.

Technical - For those who desire to calculate their own K or R values, please use the following formulas:

1. R value can be calculated by dividing the thickness by the K value.

For US calculations, we use inches as the unit of measurement.
“In the inch-pound units, thermal resistance is measured in degrees F times square feet of area times hours of time per Btus of heat...


A real wood fire satisfies like no imitation can. Each fire is unique, following its random path from lit kindling to dramatic flames to red coals. The soft glow of the fire creates a memorable setting for intimate conversation. It’s the place where family and friends gather. Gazing into the fire in a quiet moment, your imagination is free to soar on flights of fancy or probe the depths of the soul.

A wood burning stove or heating fireplace bathes the room with a rich, soothing warmth that no other energy source can equal. The fire’s radiance gives a welcome embrace as you come in from the cold. With its all-natural ingredients, a real wood fire is a hearty tonic for winter chill.

When you warm your life with wood, you participate in a natural cycle and an ancient human ritual. The simple act of stirring coals and placing logs on the hearth is one we share with ancestors who lived at the dawn of human history.

Burning wood for warmth is still satisfying. True, it takes a little extra effort, but like tending a garden or home cooking a meal, you are always rewarded.


olar power from the sun, wind power, and wood energy are renewable resources, meaning they can be used forever without depleting the earth. Using renewable energy is like living off the interest earned by the earth’s assets, and never touching its savings.

In contrast, fossil fuels like oil, gas and coal are not renewable and their consumption is the leading cause of global warming. Burning fossil fuels sends carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, on a one-way trip. It pumps million-year-old carbon from inside the earth into the atmosphere, where the concentration of carbon dioxide is increasing. Burning oil, gas and coal is like spending the earth’s savings, and scientists say it is changing the...
Should Fireplaces be illegal ?

Editors Note: The following article is reprinted (with permission) from Home Energy Magazine, which is an energy publication for professionals. It is somewhat technical, but very readable and accurate. As a member of the Industry for 17 years, I personally think that inefficient, open fireplaces SHOULD be against building codes. A building Inspector would refuse to approve your house if you cut a one square foot hole in the wall and let your heated air escape, but that’s exactly what a fireplace does!

Also note this article is from the early 1990’s and many stoves and fireplaces have already tackled the problems listed below!

Fireplaces: Studies in Contrasts
by A. C. S. Hayden

A. C. S. (Skip) Hayden is head of Energy Conservation Technology at the Combustion and Carbonization Research Laboratory (CCRL) of CANMET in Ottowa, Canada.

Energy-efficient, environmentally-friendly, and safe alternatives to the outmoded conventional fireplace are here, and they’re aesthetically pleasing too. Conventional fireplaces are incompatible with new, tighter housing, or with weatherized homes because of their large air requirements and the incomplete combustion products they produce. They can create significant indoor air quality problems and potentially catastrophic situations in existing dwellings. Conventional fireplaces are also extremely inefficient, sometimes even having negative energy efficiency. Most so-called solutions attack only minor or isolated aspects of the problem.

New fireplace designs—specifically advanced-combustion wood fireplaces—offer an alternative. Advanced fireplaces are attractive, comfort-supplying, and cost-effective complements to conventional heating systems, even in tight homes. They can eliminate indoor air quality problems caused by existing fireplaces, in a safe, energy-efficient and environmentally benign way. They are also addressing what has been an extremely challenging weatherization problem.

Tips for purchasing Firewood
A Cord is A Cord is a Cord

1. Bulk firewood is usually sold by a measurement called a cord or fraction of a cord.” A cord is defined as 128 cubic feet when the wood is neatly stacked in a line or row as indicated in the diagram below. A standard “cord” would be 8 feet long by 4 feet wide by 4 feet high.

2. Be wary of measurement terms such as “rick,” “rack,” “face cord,” “pile,” or “truckload. These terms are prohibited in some states when advertising or selling firewood or stove wood. Since these terms cannot be defined exactly, it is in your best interest to purchase firewood that is measured by the true cord.

3. Fireplace or stove wood is defined as: any kindling logs, boards, timbers, or other wood. The logs may be whole or pre-split. They may be purchased seasoned (dried) or fresh-cut. If you are buying freshly cut (or “green”) wood, be sure to allow for 8-12 months minimum for proper drying.

4. In most states, sellers are required to provide buyers with an invoice which shows the seller’s name, address, phone number, price per cord, total amount, and the type of wood purchased.

5. It is a good idea to get references from your wood seller. Buyers should write down the license plate number of the wood delivery truck. The delivered wood should be stacked (by seller or you) in a cord or fraction of a cord. Measure the stack (width x height x length) and contact the seller immediately if you did not receive the quantity purchased. If you discover a problem with your purchase, it may be helpful to take a picture of the stacked wood.

By Ike Johnson , reprinted from Back Home Magazine with permission

Cut Ahead and Burn Dry
Keep it Dry !
Burn Efficiently
Keep the Heat In
Burn the Best

There are several reasons for choosing wood heat over the few available alternatives. Not the least of these reasons is economy. In New England where I live, for instance, 11.4 per kilowatt electric rates can give your mortgage a run for its money if you’re unfortunate enough to have electric heat. Wood burning boasts advantages other fuels can’t mimic: an evenness, quietness, and aesthetic appeal truly unique to wood. There are many who relish the rituals of self sufficiency involved with getting in their own wood. That’s not to say that more is necessarily better. No matter how much you admire the sight of a cut and split stack drying in the autumn air, you owe it to yourself to get by with as short a stack as is prudent for the winter in your locale. Here, then, are five strategies for milking the most Btu’s out of every stick you burn.

Cut Ahead and Burn Dry
Green wood contains up to 50 percent of its weight in water. The first stage of combustion involves bringing this mass of water up to its vaporization point. The energy expended in doing this does not heat your home. And, while steam heat has its place, that place is definitely not in your woodstove. Worse yet, green wood gives off far more creosote than seasoned fuel, which further robs a stove and chimney of efficiency. On top of that, creosote produces the hazard of chimney fires, which have laid many a home to ash. Therefore, by...