Do you break up the wood when it is all embers?

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k3c4forlife

Member
Oct 30, 2009
232
Hey all,

First time burner. I have been burning 24/7 for about 3 weeks now, have only really need to throw in some kindling after cleaning the flue yesterday... When you have a good fire going and the wood has turned to embers, should you leave it in wood form or break it up into coals?

I would imagine to hold a longer burn time leave it together, but to get the most heat, break it up and increase the surface area of burning? What do you all do?

Thanks,
Kevin
 

jadm

New Member
Dec 31, 2007
918
colorado
I am no expert but if I am around when it hits that stage and insert temp. has dropped down to 400* or lower, I break them up and rake them forward.

Splits in the rear of my insert tend to not burn as thoroughly as ones in the front and I have gotten creosote build up on the back metal strip if I don't rake forward....

A lot depends on type of wood burning and how much air load has to burn so, like most of my burning, things tend to vary depending from load to load BUT I generally do break them up and rake them forward.

Hope this helps. You will get a feel for your stove and how best to manage your loads in time. These stoves do tell us if we pay attention. ;-)
 

North of 60

Minister of Fire
Jul 27, 2007
2,449
Yukon Canada
I break them up and rake them forward. Bypass is left open and Stat left on high. I will reload in about 10-20 minutes after my flue is warmed up and a good draft is established. Coals will be pretty much burnt up. This is with my northern hardwood known as pine.
 

LLigetfa

Minister of Fire
Nov 9, 2008
7,360
NW Ontario
Depends on need and whether I'm just tossing on a few splits, trying to burn down the coals, or stoking it up for the night. If the zipper is wide open and I have a void in the centre by the doghouse, I break up and move coals to the middle. When tossing on splits, I just leave them as is. Burning down coals, I just rake them forward. When I'm stoking it for the night, there would not be anything large but I do break up big chunks if need be.

In the morning when rebuilding from coals, I break them up and drag them to the doghouse to get lots of air.
 

xman23

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
2,334
Lackawaxen PA
I break up the crumbling logs with a poker before reloading. For my stove a even bed of coals across the floor works well. It will all burn and allows me to get 2 large splits in east west and another 1 or 2 splits above them.
 

Battenkiller

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2009
3,739
Just Outside the Blue Line
In my forge I break them up to get consistent and even heat and to establish a reducing atmosphere inside the coals. In a wood stove... never.

I like to direct as much of the available air through the burn zone as possible. Breaking up the coals compacts them and reduces air spaces between them, and therefore, flow is reduced. I place a few smallish splits as carefully as I can to avoid breaking up the embers. Then, when they are going real nice after about 20 minutes or so, I fill it up as tight as I can, let it get going good again and then shut the damper and adjust the primary air for whatever burn I'm trying to achieve.

Sometimes, I even get it right.
 

North of 60

Minister of Fire
Jul 27, 2007
2,449
Yukon Canada
Battenkiller said:
In my forge I break them up to get consistent and even heat and to establish a reducing atmosphere inside the coals. In a wood stove... never.

I like to direct as much of the available air through the burn zone as possible. Breaking up the coals compacts them and reduces air spaces between them, and therefore, flow is reduced. I place a few smallish splits as carefully as I can to avoid breaking up the embers. Then, when they are going real nice after about 20 minutes or so, I fill it up as tight as I can, let it get going good again and then shut the damper and adjust the primary air for whatever burn I'm trying to achieve.

Sometimes, I even get it right.

Hmmmmmm Outside the blue line you say. :coolhmm:
 

staplebox

Member
Jan 2, 2008
211
Eastern CT
I am assuming you are talking about reloading. When it's time for me to reload I open the air all the way for a few minutes while I select the next load of wood. Then break up whatever is in there and drag (no rake) it forward, leaving room for the front primary air. Then I load up what I can and close the door, leaving the air wide open. Depending on how much coal was left or how much I stuff in there I leave the air open for X amount of time and then dial it down to what I want it to be.

The caveat here is that I have a small firebox (no jokes please) and if I don't break down these huge black locust coals I wouldn't have room for new wood. If I had a large firebox I'd probably just stuff the new wood in without any breaking up or dragging.
 

hareball

Member
Dec 11, 2009
699
Jersey shore/pines
I almost always bust everything up and leave the doors open about 15 mins. I like to let that heat radiate out into the living room prior to reloading since the output temp always drops. I reload and leave the doors open long enough for the reload to flame up then shut the doors and damper in to 400 degrees and try and maintain that.

A friend of mine used to run a stove and he would just open the door every few hours and launch a few splits in and shut the door. He never lost heat this way but I'd be unable to do that anyway- Once the Fisher is around 400 degrees the doors swell and become one with the stove and it takes some time for them to cool.


I do enjoy the visuals and the smell of a reload.
 

Hurricane

Minister of Fire
Feb 18, 2009
565
Central NJ
I break them up and open the air to get them nice and hot before reload.
I also stir the coals if there are no big chunks to get the coals some air before reload.
 

SolarAndWood

Minister of Fire
Feb 3, 2008
6,788
Syracuse NY
With hardwoods, I pull it in from the sides and corners to front center on the stove. Then open the air up and let it burn for a few hours. I find that without doing this, I eventually get a big pile of coals that will need 8-10 hours to burn down even with the air wide open. With pine, a quick pull front center a few mins before reload is usually adequate.
 

Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,811
Michigan
A lot of folks have a big problem with too many coals in the stove. For that, I say break them up but also take the poker and rake through the coals; dig right down into the ash. This will burn the coals up faster. Also, by the time one is ready to do that, the draft should be set full or close to it. After breaking them up, make sure you set to full draft.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,409
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I'm pretty lazy . . . normally I just wait until the burned log has reached the coaling stage and evolved (or would that be devolved) into the late coaling stage where the coals are naturally broken apart and are the size of golfballs, plums, etc. . .. and then I simply add more wood to the fire, open up the air and get the whole thing going again.

If it's wicked cold (i.e. single digits or below the donut) I may only wait until the wood has broken into large baseball or softball sized pieces before adding wood.

I rarely bother with breaking apart any of the coals . . . or raking the coals forwards or backwards. About the only few things I do is a) rake the ashes in the morning to stir up the coals for a restart, b) sometimes I will level out the coals since they tend to build up on one side higher than the other and c) I'll push some of the coals away from the incoming air outlets in the doghouse . . . just to give it some space.
 

fire_man

Minister of Fire
Feb 6, 2009
2,469
North Eastern MA
SolarAndWood said:
With hardwoods, I pull it in from the sides and corners to front center on the stove. Then open the air up and let it burn for a few hours. I find that without doing this, I eventually get a big pile of coals that will need 8-10 hours to burn down even with the air wide open. With pine, a quick pull front center a few mins before reload is usually adequate.

I'm jealous of you Blaze King-King folks that burn your armpits because you have to reach in so far to stir your coals. It sure would be nice to have that big a Firebox. :)
 

billb3

Minister of Fire
Dec 14, 2007
4,679
SE Mass
fire_man said:
I'm jealous of you Blaze King-King folks that burn your armpits because you have to reach in so far to stir your coals. It sure would be nice to have that big a Firebox. :)

So get a lady [del]Schick[/del] Gillette.



I stir soup, but sometimes I've pushed them towards the middle stretched out like a log and piled over / around them rather than spread out / push to the sides. Otherwise, I pretty much stoppoed playing with the fire a long time ago.
 
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