"Warm" reloads - what do you do?

NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
256
SE WI
What do you guys do on "warm" - not "hot" restarts? Just installed in January, so I'm still learning...

I find myself in this situation pretty regularly in the morning or after the first fire of the day and the house is starting to cool off late in the afternoon. I have some coals left, but the stt is only 150-200f after firing up what's left of the coals. Big splits of hardwood on the bottom layer won't catch worth a darn. Building a new top down and using kindling and paper just strikes me as wrong. What seems to work best for me is to put some smaller stuff, kindling or softwood on the bottom, then big splits on that, then whatever fits on top.

*** I suspect that starting next year it will be less of an issue. Most of my hardwoods are between 20-25% on a fresh split, so I know I'm not ideally seasoned. Never got ahead with the old smoke dragon and I'm still suffering the effects... Next years supply will be 18mo beech & 12mo ash for hardwood and 12mo Aspen & some punky honey locust for softwood. After that there's more ash, hard maple, beech, good honey locust, hickory and oak. If I get it all css yet this fall, all but the oak should be ready in 2 years (ash & beech for sure...).

I am separating stacks by heat content and drying time now after the cluster of sorting it as I moved from outside to inside a few weeks ago. Ash, walnut & cherry together (1 yr, mid BTU); beech by itself (1 yr, high BTU), oak by itself (3 yr, high BTU); honey locust, hard maple & hickory together (2 yr, high BTU). I've noticed some discrepancies between BTU charts for firewood and drying times, but this is what I came up with. One chart has ash down around walnut & cherry for BTU, another has it up by the oak and hard maple. Same with beech and honey locust - one has it with oak & hard maple for BTU, another has them higher by the hickory. Softwoods pretty much all season in a year, so I don't think I'll sort them.

Oh geez... that turned into another one of my rambles... !!! ;)
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
84,972
South Puget Sound, WA
Wood moisture is making it a bit more challenging. Try bringing in a tote of the wood indoors for a week or two. That can knock off a couple percent moisture. Otherwise mix in some compressed wood bricks from Tractor Supply or add some 2x4 cutoffs to wake up the fire.
 
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NickW

Feeling the Heat
Oct 16, 2019
256
SE WI
Thanks for the replies. Sounds like I had the right general idea... So far I've been doing mostly mixed hardwood & softwood fires and then a 3/4 load hardwood overnight and it's been better than last year. Last nights load went well, the night before gave nightmares from last year. Just remembering some of those full load hardwood fires last year that took an hour to get to temp and another half hour or more to settle in...

4 cord in the garage now with a fan on it trying to help mc, approaching 5 css outside, another cord of logs here and probably 10 cord of logs (all hardwoods) at various friends/acquaintances places plus a buttload of Aspen & pine up north from clearing a building site. Plus the tree service who said he has 2 acres of logs that I can haul all I want from! If only there were more hours in a day...

I keep a 1/4 cord rack inside and try to refill it before it's empty to give it time to warm up (and lose a little mc). Right now it's a mix of softwoods and hardwoods. Loving the ability to use softwood in shoulder season! I can see I'm probably going to run out of softwood early this year.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,216
Unity/Bangor, Maine
You've been doing it right . . . small splits or kindling with bigger stuff on top.
 
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shortys7777

Feeling the Heat
Nov 15, 2017
280
Smithfield, RI
I do this before work a lot. I also learned to leave kindling near. sometimes it takes a couple puffs but usually gets going enough before I have to leave the house. All of mine is cut off lumber or pallet that I cut up and split. I leave a pile in my workshop and split a bunch at a time and put in a box.
 

Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
814
Rochester NY
with just a few coals, a restart isn't too tough if you do as you're doing, but then after it's heated up a bit (smoking, but not on fire) give it a little shot with the torch and it'll start right up. It often just needs that tiny boost of flame when you're only restarting with a few coals.
 

agonyzhou

New Member
Nov 29, 2019
57
Maryland
Throw some kindling on the remaining coals and then load big fuel to the roof. If the kindling doesn’t self ignite then shoot it with the torch. I love my little trigger fired propane torch. Have one for each stove.
Good idea. I hate it when I have to wait a few minutes to see flame pop back up in a smoke filled firebox. You probably don't want to store the torch too close to the stove though.
 

Tron

Member
Jan 1, 2020
174
Jackson MS
after it's heated up a bit (smoking, but not on fire) give it a little shot with the torch and it'll start right up.
Drawback for me would be that if you open the door at that moment to give it that "shot", you're smoking up the whole house.
I usually throw in a firestarter during reload if the coals have already died down and light it before I close the door.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,938
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Good idea. I hate it when I have to wait a few minutes to see flame pop back up in a smoke filled firebox. You probably don't want to store the torch too close to the stove though.
You can do what you want but each mine is stored right beside the stove.

Some people have propane stoves and furnaces too.
 

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Woody5506

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2017
814
Rochester NY
Drawback for me would be that if you open the door at that moment to give it that "shot", you're smoking up the whole house.
I usually throw in a firestarter during reload if the coals have already died down and light it before I close the door.

I just crack the door enough to get the end of the torch in there. Very little smoke spillage if any.
 
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CincyBurner

Minister of Fire
Mar 10, 2015
525
SW Ohio
During shoulder season burns when loading I'll throw in a chunk of Osage.
Its coals last a long time making for easier, quicker warm starts.
 

Chuck the Canuck

Feeling the Heat
You can do what you want but each mine is stored right beside the stove.

Some people have propane stoves and furnaces too.
Highbeam, I very much admire the simple functionality of the hearth you put together for your NC30, and I think I would like to use an identical base for my 2014 Drolet Austral (which currently sits on a concrete floor in the basement). Is there some sort of minimum height that must be adhered to from the top of the stove to the bottom of the ceiling box? At present, I have 61" from stove top to bottom of the ceiling box....
 

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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,938
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Highbeam, I very much admire the simple functionality of the hearth you put together for your NC30, and I think I would like to use an identical base for my 2014 Drolet Austral (which currently sits on a concrete floor in the basement). Is there some sort of minimum height that must be adhered to from the top of the stove to the bottom of the ceiling box? At present, I have 61" from stove top to bottom of the ceiling box....
Some stoves for sure, maybe all, have a minimum distance from stove top to ceiling so you would want to respect that. In my shop, the permit required an 18” tall hearth but my ceilings are 14’ tall so no problems with ceiling height. I really like the height for loading and looking at the fire through the window.

The stove in my house is on a raised hearth too. About 10” above the floor. I just barely meet the manual requirements for distance to ceiling on that one.
 
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whtl4856

New Member
Feb 14, 2020
11
SE Michigan
I take whatever few coals are left and put them in a pile right in front of my air inlet holes, then put some kindling or small splits on the coals and some bigger stuff on top of those. After this I shut the door, this causes all of the air to go through the air inlet where the coals are and get them super hot.
This method has worked well for me even with only 2-3 burning coals left.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
4,754
Downeast Maine
Throw some kindling on the remaining coals and then load big fuel to the roof. If the kindling doesn’t self ignite then shoot it with the torch. I love my little trigger fired propane torch. Have one for each stove.
I switched to a butane torch that attaches to a camping butane canister (cheapest fuel option for me locally) and haven't looked back. I light *everything* with it and it's also useful for crisping things in the kitchen.
 
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Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,938
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I switched to a butane torch that attaches to a camping butane canister (cheapest fuel option for me locally) and haven't looked back. I light *everything* with it and it's also useful for crisping things in the kitchen.
Once you learn how to refill the 1# propane canisters, they become almost free. MrHeater brand made my refilling tool, a real company.

The uses for a small torch are many but I just can’t imagine using Boy Scout methods for routine fire starting anymore.
 
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brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
5,506
NE Ohio
I don't use my little Drolet 1400i in the fireplace that much anymore, especially one fire after the other, but when I do I like to try to "flip" the fire...doesn't always work though.
Let me explain...if I have a few hot coals that can be dug out, I'll load some kindlin/paper/dryer lint/whatever on them to get things going again (preferably after I'm done loading if possible) then load the bigger stuff on top...then some smaller super dry stuff on the very top.
Once the fire is going again, and there is good secondary combustion at the top of the firebox...start slowly cutting the air back just enough to minimize the fire at the bottom, while leaving strong secondary combustion at the top...when it works right, the primary fire will be snuffed to a smolder, but the secondary fire will be rippin hot. Kinda like doing a top down fire...sorta...and probably only works with real dry wood I'd guess.
Pretty much what my Kuuma wood furnace does too...but all on its own...
 
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Mutineer

Member
Dec 13, 2018
66
NE Ohio
I use the heck out of my little bellows on even the smallest red coal in the morning, very rarely have to start from scratch. Put a few pieces of kindling and other unlit coals on top of and surrounding the coal and it usually catches after 4-5 bellows pumps right on the coal. I've started from a coal as small as a pea at times, tests your skills, but like many aspects of woodburning, that sense of accomplishment when the firebox is full of flame after 10-15 minutes is key.
 

agonyzhou

New Member
Nov 29, 2019
57
Maryland
I wait until the glass is warm to touch then reload and build a top down from scratch. To me it is easier:
  • I don't like to wear gloves, and operating a hot stove with bare hand is crazy
  • My wood is uneven in length, sometimes crooked, so I like to take my time to stack them tighter in the firebox
Later on when the demand for heat is higher I probably have to do some hot reloads though.