Saving embers overnight - safety, technique, etc

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leah23

New Member
Nov 23, 2021
2
Catskills
Hi everyone!

I have an old, reliable Timberline that heats up my cabin. My problem is I don't like to wake up to maintain a fire. That's fine - I don't need / really want an overnight burn. What I would like are hot embers in the morning. I've been accomplishing this by making a sandwhich of all the very hot embers in a bed of ashes before bed. I leave the vents open at the same amount as the last burn of the night.

Is this safe and effective, or is there a better way to save a bed of embers? Worried about CO and creosote. Thank you for your time, all the best!
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,860
Long Island NY
I don't know about CO; it depends on the stack (draft and possible reversal).

Creosote should not be an issue at this stage of the burn.

Can't help you with saving embers as my stove goes long enough to not have to worry about that.
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
727
ontario
Not sure on your particular stove, but if I load my stove east west versus the prominent north south it results in the east west log in the back of the stove to hold its shape and I have alot more embers to re-lite. For me this is particularly handy in shoulder season as I don't want the constant fire. I'm burning ash and that may effect results as well as stove brand. It's worth a try if you generally load your stove north south.
 
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leah23

New Member
Nov 23, 2021
2
Catskills
Thanks for the input, I'll definitely try the east west log method, I usually do N/S.

With regards to making embers last longer, is low oxygen better? I'm considering trying the vents closed to prevent any chance of CO and also because suffocating them with ash appears to help. Thanks!
 

mcdougy

Minister of Fire
Apr 15, 2014
727
ontario
In general if your wood is good and dry (less than 20%m.c.) you should be running with the air shutdown completely all the time. Get the fire going strong than shut the air down in a 15min time frame. This will keep your coals. In the a.m. open the air fully and rake your coals forward. If your stove is a old school down draft stove the same rules apply. You don't want to make the fire go out obviously but running with minimal air will prolong your burn time per load. If the wood is too wet this strategy won't work.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,529
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
This old timberline sounds like a pre epa smoke dragon. If so, closing the air can really be close to zero air unlike modern epa noncats that always let quite a lot of air in.
 

MongoMongoson

Member
Feb 6, 2021
238
Wisconsin
I still see a lot of old Timberlines for sale. Think Fisher grandma or grandpa (those are the double door stoves). So yeah, if you shut the air all the way down, the fire ought to darn near go out, even if it is full of kiln dried lumber.

You can't run a "classic" air tight stove like that and make heat.

With your older stove, you can "store" coals in the back. As wood burns through the day and you are adding more, you can push most of the coaling wood to the back and reload in the front. The only air inlets are in the front, so most of the incoming oxygen will be consumed by the new fuel. I have not run the wider double door stoves, and with those you have less depth to play with, but that method sure worked well with my deep All Nighter. More than one time I left for the weekend, and 48 hrs later I had coals to relight a fire without a match. Those were extreme cases but overnight was no issue.

At night you can turn the air inlets down to preserve your coals. How much to turn down is something you will learn.

In the morning, rake the remaining coals forward so they are just behind the doors (and air inlets). Throw some small splits on top, close the door and open the air controls. The fire should take off right away.
 

ispinwool

Feeling the Heat
Feb 5, 2010
270
Butler County, Pa.
I did a search for the Timberline...what a beauty! :)

Like Mongo said, 'you'll figure it out'... I tend to leave my air open 1/2 way at night; in the morning, it's
too hot to get my ungloved hand inside to remove ashes.
 

MongoMongoson

Member
Feb 6, 2021
238
Wisconsin
I was cleaning out ashes this morning and that made me remember that I should mention something else that isn't intuitive. It took me maybe longer than it should have to realize this on my own.

When you shovel ashes out of your Timberline, don't shovel it clean. Leave at least an inch in there covering the bottom. That will give you a much better chance of having long-lasting coals than a clean firebox will.

The best way to do this is to, in the morning, shovel out the ashes directly behind the door. On your stove, you probably won't have any coals directly behind the door in the morning so it will be mostly ash and few if any embers.

Then rake the coals forward from the back and build your morning fire on top of them.

Doing that regularly will allow you to have enough, but not too much, ash in your firebox and also makes it easy to shovel ash without sifting out (or throwing away) coals and embers.
 

stoveliker

Minister of Fire
Nov 17, 2019
2,860
Long Island NY
I bought an all metal cat poo scooper. Allows to scoop the glowing coals to one side, and then scoop out the ashes without the coals from the other side. All while it's hot so any ash gets sucked into the stove.

But yes, an inch of ashes on the bottom is a good thing.

I had cleaned out my stove completely over the summer, so I had to start without ashes. I covered the floor of the firebox with 2*4 cut offs I have a pile of (see wood shed build... Rafter cut offs) to fake some insulating layer during the initial start up. Built the tip down start up pile on top of that. That worked well.
 

TradEddie

Minister of Fire
Jan 24, 2012
947
SE PA
Probably not what you need, but there's inevitably those large unsplittable pieces of crotch wood that are almost the full size of my firebox. I set those aside, let them season longer than normal, then use just one to get a long slow overnight burn. Wood type matters too, I find oak excellent for long slow clean burns with lots of coals left in the morning.

TE
 
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