Why rake coals to front on reload?


Sep 11, 2015
Long Island NY
Can I ask why I see so many recommending raking / movings coals to the front of the stove when reloading? I’m sure there’s some sort of benefit but I’m not sure what it is.

Is this recommendation specific to one type of stove versus others? I have the Northstar ZC fireplace and am trying to understand if this would help me.

Thanks for your help.


Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
Central Mass
That's where the primary air gets fed into the stove, I rake forward and make a channel to make sure the air isn't obstructed.

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
Southern IN
Most stoves have the air, or most of it, coming in through the "air wash" inlet above the door to keep the glass clean. So wood on top of the coals the have been pulled up to the front of the box will ignite readily. That said, you can do a lot of different things with the coals depending on what you are trying to achieve. e.g. you could shove the coals to the back if you are trying to slow the burn down after reloading, and so on..


Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
Long Island NY
From what I get its 2fold. One get the coals towards the incoming air to burn them down and if the coals are distributed all over the firebox floor the load goes up all at once. By raking forward you get more controlled, sometimes called "cigar" burn.
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Feeling the Heat
Sep 16, 2017
You are speeding up the ignition of the wood you have just added if the coal is right where the incoming air is arriving


Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
central pa
I have always spread them out.


Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2008
Lackawaxen PA
I don't have to. The Oslo is a east / west burner, so it burns the coals fairly evenly . Unless it's down in single digits, I let the fire burn down before each reload. That said I do like to keep a few inches of coals.


Mar 30, 2018
North Central Indiana
Where ever your air is coming in is where I would rake your coals. I keep a layer spread out in stove but if I have excess I pul them to the front so the air can get to them.

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Jan 4, 2018
Michigan (Thumb)
Most stoves have the inlet air come in through the front of the stove .so the reason you want to rake the coals to the front of the stove is so you can load up the back of the stove and pack it tight until you get to the front then load one log in the coals. The log on the coals will light first then the log behind that. Your stove will burn from front to back. That's how you achieve longer burn times. If you have your coals all spread out all the wood in the stove will burn at the same time and it will burn through the wood faster.

Chimney Smoke

Minister of Fire
Nov 24, 2013
I always spread them out flat. If not I can't load the stove full due to the angle of the wood sitting on uneven coals.

Kevin Weis

Minister of Fire
Mar 3, 2018
Union Bridge, Md
Try to spread mine out some and maybe back closer to the cat so it can light back off faster during reloads. Maybe it doesn't matter? This has its own hazards. Posted another thread on that a few minutes ago. And it's raining outside AGAIN.


Minister of Fire
Aug 8, 2011
Long Island NY
Little corny but John Gulland does a good job.


Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
Downeast Maine
I can't believe I just watched that whole thing.


Minister of Fire
Jan 14, 2009
Central NY
If I'm reloading early on a hotter stove with more coals, then I'll spread the coals out evenly in the stove and load on top of that. When I do that, I make sure to turn the air down quickly so the burn doesn't get away from me.

If I'm reloading later on a cooler stove with fewer coals, I'll rake them forward to get a faster start to the reload.


Feeling the Heat
May 20, 2018
I sometimes rake my coals to the front, put a small split on top with the air fully open. This helps burn the coals down to make room for a large wood load. This is helpful for me when I will be away from the house for several hours at a time.

Other than that, I just spread them out and load up.


Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
Southeast CT
I personally think the acting was top notch in that video.
All kidding aside, the woodheat.org website he runs is a terrific resource.
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