How to live with a wood stove: Excerpt from post by firefighterjake. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/51042/P22/#565594
Feel free to add your own observations, noting authorship:
Ive been doing some thinking and here are some of my thoughts in no particular order.
For many of us burning wood is not a chore . . . but if and when it becomes a chore there is nothing wrong in taking a break from burning. After all, its your stove, your wood and your life . . . burning wood is not a competition to see if you can burn less wood than another member, use less oil or burn more efficiently . . . its about keeping warm. Plain and simple.
start burning with wood and find that they dont like it . . . it can be a lot of work and it can be messy. For folks using older stoves or unseasoned wood the experience can be even worse as they burn through so much more wood and/or spend a lot of time coping with woodstoves with smoke that spills out into their home, smokey fires that splutter along and produce little heat and they have the constant fear of a chimney fire. I feel for these folks since burning wood for me is truly enjoyable . . . its work . . . but I like every aspect of this work . . . cutting, splitting, stacking, starting the fire, etc. . . . in fact, and my wife will tell anyone the same thing, I find working with wood to be a real stress reliever . . . rather than something that stresses me out . . . if and when burning with wood becomes a cause of stress then Ill call it quits.
Many folks start burning wood to save money . . . and you can save money vs. burning fossil fuels. However, if you start burning wood and opt to stay burning wood solely because youre saving money I dont know if you truly would look at woodstoves in the same way as a person who enjoys the sense of independence, the smell of wood smoke in the air outdoors, the beauty of the dancing flames . . . when burning wood becomes a way of life, a life-style, rather than simply a way to save money, then youll know youre a true woodburner.
Routine . . . Establishing a routine makes things so much easier as things then become a normal part of life . . . and they seem to get done faster when youre not having to think. For example, each morning I start off by reloading the stove or restarting it if necessary . . . and I bring in the days wood to the woodbox and do a quick sweep and mop of the hearth. Once to twice a week Ill dump out the ash pan and clean the haze off the glass. Every Sunday I reload the weeks worth of wood on the porch and on the first weekend of the month (weather permitting) Ill check and clean the chimney . . . all part and parcel of burning wood.
Restarting the fire: This can perhaps be one of the most frustrating aspects of wood burning . . . especially if you dont have the right materials or have a technique down pat. I have to use kindling . . . its what works for me. Others are big advocates of fatwood or Super Cedars . . . based on what Im hearing I would encourage you to try one of the Super Cedarsin the past one of our members here has sent out free samples just for the asking . . . take him up on the offer. Truth be told . . . confession time here . . . at the start of each burning season it takes me a week or so to remember how to build my fires from scratch . . . those first fires sometimes fizzle out . . . or just ponder along until they finally get going after 30 minutes . . . or an hour. However, like anything else, you do it enough times and after awhile you will get better and better so by mid-winter you can get a fire up and going in minutes without even having to think about it.
Adding wood: Its been said, but Ill reiterate. It may seem to make sense to add 1-2 splits to a fire during the day . . . but in fact this leads to more coals and is more work . . . it is usually far, far better to do a full reload . . . less reloading, fewer coals, etc.
Dont be a slave to your stove: This is my mantra . . . I bought the stove to serve my needs and wantsnot the other way around. And so if I dont want to wake up to do a reload in middle of the night, Im OK with the oil boiler kicking on . . . and if I go away for a weeks vacation Im OK with the oil boiler heating the house while Im gone . . . and if you want to take a break I say go ahead . . . after all the priority should be you and your wife . . . not making sure the woodstove is happy and fully loaded with stove chow;Live_with_a_wood_stove