How to Keep a Wood Burning Stove Going: A Comprehensive Guide

Keeping your wood burning stove operating efficiently not only enhances the warmth and ambiance of your home but also ensures you are utilising this traditional heating method in the safest and most economical way possible. Whether you’re a novice looking to understand the basics or someone seeking to refine their stove-tending techniques, this guide will provide detailed instructions on how to keep your wood burning stove burning continuously and efficiently.

How to Keep a Wood Burning Stove Going?

Understand Your Stove

Before diving into the techniques, it’s essential to understand the type of wood stove you have and its specific requirements. Different stoves have varying air intake systems, fuel types, and heat outputs. Familiarise yourself with your stove’s manual for specific instructions and safety guidelines.

Choose the Right Wood

The choice of wood plays a critical role in how well your stove operates:

  • Kiln Dried or well Seasoned Wood: Always use dry, seasoned or kiln dried wood. This means the wood has been cut and dried in a kiln or naturally aired for at least six months but preferably for a year +. Moisture content should be below 20%.
  • Hardwoods vs. Softwoods: Hardwoods like oak and ash burn slower and provide more prolonged heat compared to softwoods like pine, which burn faster but are useful for kindling.

Building the Fire

Step 1: Clean Your Stove

Ensure your stove and flue pipe are clean; ash and soot buildup can restrict air flow and reduce efficiency. Regular cleaning will also prevent chimney fires.

Step 2: Create Good Airflow

Start by ensuring that your stove’s air vents are open for maximum oxygen, which is crucial for initiating the burn.

Step 3: Lay the Kindling

Place crumpled paper at the base, topped with small sticks of kindling in a grid or teepee arrangement. This setup enhances airflow and helps the flames catch more easily.

Step 4: Light Your Fire

Ignite the paper at multiple points to help the fire spread quickly and evenly. Once the kindling begins to burn strongly, gradually add larger pieces of firewood.

Step 5: Adjust the Airflow

Once the fire is established, adjust the stove’s air intake to control the burn rate. More air means a hotter, faster burn, while less air will slow it down.

Maintaining the Fire

To keep your wood burning stove going, maintenance is key:

  • Regularly Add Fuel: Keep adding firewood before the previous load has completely turned to ash. Add one or two pieces of wood at a time to maintain a steady temperature.
  • Manage the Coals: Periodically, redistribute the coals to create an even bed for new wood logs, which helps maintain heat and ensures more complete burning.
  • Monitor Stove Temperature: Use a stove thermometer to monitor the temperature. Ideal burning temperatures are typically between 200°F and 300°F.

Safety Tips

  • Install Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Since wood stoves can emit carbon monoxide, installing detectors in your home is a safety must.
  • Check for Regulations: Be aware of any local regulations regarding wood burning stoves in your area, including emissions limits and burning times.
  • Regular Inspections: Have your stove and chimney professionally inspected and cleaned annually to prevent chimney fires and ensure everything is in working order.


Mastering the art of keeping a wood burning stove going requires patience and practice. By understanding your stove, using the right materials, and maintaining the fire correctly, you can enjoy a warm, inviting atmosphere in your home. Not only will you enhance your stove’s efficiency, but you will also be practicing an eco-friendlier way of heating. Follow these steps, and you’ll be able to keep your wood burning stove going strong all winter long.

This guide aims to provide you with all the necessary knowledge and tips to ensure your wood burning stove operates optimally and safely. By keeping these practices in mind, you’ll not only improve your heating efficiency but also contribute to a cosier, more sustainable home environment.