Wood-burning stove, insight

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I like this question, but you are probably only speaking to the rooks, so I’ll play. I learned how to slow down a fire that I felt was getting a little wester with a grill vent shoved in the OAK.
I went as much as 12 hours between reloads and had enough coals to restart. Had never really tried that before. Having three years supply of wood probably helped with this.
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I placed a small fan on the stairs landing pointing up the stairs. This fan is directly under the ceiling fan which blows down. This combination did away with the cool breeze coming down the stairs. Before I did this the only way to do away with breeze was to close the master bedroom door, but then that room would be too cold. In the past I tried putting a small fan on the floor in the master bedroom blowing out into the 2nd floor loft, but it never got the air circulating enough to heat up the room very much. This new arrangement has done wonders to even out the temperatures in the house. It only took 25 years to come up with this solution.
I’m by no means a rookie to wood burning, but this was only my second full winter with my BK Ashford insert.

I learned how to load it for a long burn using a modified upside down fire. Definitely a different arrangement of fuel than my other unit at my other house.

Another thing I’m learning is building clean fires that do not put a lot of heat in the room. Using my insert more like a fireplace when I just want the ambiance and not the heat. Currently have a small fire going for exactly that reason.

I still have a lot to learn. Heating with wood is a science.

Wood-burning stove, insight
I learned the benefits of mixing some soft/shoulder season woods with my typical all hardwood (oak) loads.
Also learned a bit more fine tuning the burn rates and closing the draft a bit earlier than i was doing. It's a fine line in the F400.
Still need to get chimney sweep results to confirm good burning or need further fine tuning for burns.
I learned that adding some thermal mass around my hearth helps even out the heat and reflect more radiant heat into the room.
What are you using for thermal mass? I’ve seen people use buckets of water, stones, sand. What works for you?
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