Starting a fire

MoDoug

Member
Feb 3, 2018
73
NE Missouri
I like the idea of using the sleepers to allow air circulation with the E/W. With my smaller 1.8 cf firebox even smaller sleepers will help tremendously. I noticed you also use some smaller splits N/S to fill in the end gaps, basically cramming in wood where you can for a longer burn.

The E/W applies to me, I'll try this tonight. At a later time, I'm going to experiment with a N/S start. I'll have to cut some short splits about 12 inches, but it will be interesting to see how they compare. The N/S start may work out pretty good, then do E/W reloads on a good bed of coals.

begreen, thank you for the starting a fire info, both orientations. You put effort into it with good explanations of how and why.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,687
South Puget Sound, WA
You're welcome. Note that these examples are just one sampling of hundreds of fires. Each loading and fire takeoff is different. In the past I used always do a bottom-up burn with the "Tunnel of Love"™ method, but that leads to smokier starts so I have switched to only doing top down starts this year. Hot coal reloads are still bottom-up, but the stove firebox is hot enough to start burning cleanly much faster.
 

LumberCity

New Member
Nov 8, 2019
30
central pa
I do the same set up (top down with a channel in the middle) except loaded e/w. my firebox is about 1.5 cu/ft and using oak splits with a few pine branches as kindling I can get the firebox ripping in about 10 minutes. vastly superior to bottom up fire.
 

hunter23

New Member
Aug 5, 2020
1
Milton, Florida
when starting a fire, it is important to consider the type of wood you are using. This can greatly affect how well the fire burns and if there are draft issues. The CSIA recommends burning wood that is 15-25% moisture content. For more info about which types of wood are acceptable, read this blog.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,687
South Puget Sound, WA
when starting a fire, it is important to consider the type of wood you are using. This can greatly affect how well the fire burns and if there are draft issues. The CSIA recommends burning wood that is 15-25% moisture content. For more info about which types of wood are acceptable, read this blog.
Dry wood is very important. The link appears to be more about fireplace burning. This thread is about wood stover operation. For woodstoves, ideally, the moisture content should be below 20% for modern wood stove burning. The section on softwood is incorrect. A large portion of western wood burning is softwood. If it is properly seasoned it burns quite cleanly and can be excellent firewood. We burn douglas fir almost exclusively and typically end up with about 1/2 cup of soot in annual cleaning.

Are you the author?
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,126
Unity/Bangor, Maine
when starting a fire, it is important to consider the type of wood you are using. This can greatly affect how well the fire burns and if there are draft issues. The CSIA recommends burning wood that is 15-25% moisture content. For more info about which types of wood are acceptable, read this blog.

Some good stuff here . . . some misinformation . . . especially when it comes to burning in a woodstove (maybe it's different with a fireplace.)

-- How hot and long a fire lasts is partly due to the wood species . . . but in a woodstove it also depends on how well seasoned the wood is, how the person operates the stove and even the stove type which will determine how much heat is extracted from the burning gases of the wood and how long the fire lasts.

-- I am not sure if I have ever run across any wood species that burns too hot . . . short of something like wood soaked in creosote or flammable fuels. Naturally occurring wood species of pretty much any type has been run through my woodstove with no ill effects.

-- Once wood is seasoned it can be split . . . I would actually say it's the opposite . . . to really season wood effectively you should split your green wood and let it season.

-- I don't know as if there is truly an ideal size or shape . . . I would say it really depends on the size of the stove and the heating needs at the time. For example, in Fall I may be some chunks and uglies of lower BTU wood such as poplar, pine or hemlock to have a quick, hot fire to just take the chill out of the air without really overheating the house, but come January I am looking for BTU heavy-weights like oak, beech or sugar maple and I generally want to fill up the firebox. For night time use I tend to use larger sized splits or rounds for longer burning times.

-- Seasoned softwood is fine . . . smoke is minimal if seasoned properly and the fire can be just as hot as if one were burning hardwood . . . providing the wood is seasoned. Of course, one should probably mention how you can have "soft" hardwood such as poplar or bass . . . and "hard" softwood such as hackmatack.

-- Birch can be burned fine by itself . . . moreover there can be a big difference within certain types of wood. For example yellow birch is a pretty high BTU wood compared to white birch.

-- Never leave a fire unattended . . . maybe a good rule for fireplaces, but a lot of us 24/7 wood burners would be in a hard place if we followed this rule as we routinely load up and go to work or to sleep.

-- Cleaning the ash before lighting a fire may also be a fireplace thing . . . but in a woodstove having an inch or two of ash is actually quite beneficial in preserving coals and even acting as an insulation barrier to a degree between the hearth and stove.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,687
South Puget Sound, WA
Not really. How have you been starting it or is this a new stove? What stove is this?
 

overlandsea

Member
Oct 8, 2016
46
Camano Island, WA
Not really. How have you been starting it or is this a new stove? What stove is this?
New stove and I'm new to burning, so I'm no expert. It's a Hearthstone Shelburne. I've gotten better results trying this top down method than bottom up, but trying to get the timing right is a little tricky since the top is so much cooler than in your pictures. I wasn't sure if soapstone stoves just take longer to get going or what. I know it's never going to get as hot on the surface, but just trying to figure out when is it hot enough to seal the door, turn down the air, etc.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,687
South Puget Sound, WA
The Shelburne is a cast-iron stove at heart with soapstone firebrick. Hearthstone recommends putting the stove thermometer on the top center. It should reach 400-600º. Search in this forum for Shelburne threads. And if you don't find what you are looking for, start a new thread on running the stove.