How to use a wood burning stove?

How to Use a Wood Burning Stove: The Ultimate Guide

A wood burning stove provides a cosy, efficient way to heat your home, but knowing how to use it correctly is essential for safety, efficiency, and environmental responsibility. This guide covers everything from starting your fire to maintaining efficiency.

Starting Your Fire

  1. Prepare the Stove: Begin with a clean stove, ensuring any excess ash from previous fires is cleared out but leaving about an inch of ash bed for insulation and efficiency.
  2. Build Your Fire: Use crumpled newspaper or plain paper as a base, followed by small, dry kindling. Arrange these materials loosely to ensure good airflow, which is crucial for a successful fire start.
  3. Warm the Flue: On cold days, warm up the flue to improve the draft. This can be done by leaving the stove door open for a while or using a heat source like a lit newspaper held under the flue outlet to start the draft.
  4. Light the Fire: With the air vents fully open, light the newspaper in several places to evenly spread the fire to the kindling. Once the kindling is burning, you can begin to add larger pieces of wood, starting with smaller logs and gradually adding larger ones as the fire builds.

Maintaining Your Fire

  • Airflow is Key: Initially, keep the air vents fully open to ensure the fire gets enough oxygen. As the fire establishes, adjust the vents to control the burn rate. Keeping the vents too open can cause the fire to burn too quickly, while closing them too much can lead to smoldering and inefficiency.
  • Fuel Management: Add wood as needed, but avoid overloading the stove. Use the right amount of wood for the size of your stove to maintain a steady, efficient burn.
  • Efficiency Tips: To maximise efficiency, use dry, seasoned wood, preferably hardwoods for longer burning and more heat output. Monitor the stove’s temperature with a thermometer to keep the fire within the optimal burning range, avoiding overheating or smoldering.

Safety and Efficiency

  • Never Leave the Door Open: While it might be tempting to leave the stove door open for the ambiance or to help the fire catch, this should only be done briefly. An open door cannot control airflow effectively, leading to rapid burn or poor efficiency.
  • Using the Vents: Learn how your stove’s vents work. Adjusting these can help you control the fire’s intensity and efficiency, whether by increasing airflow to boost the fire or reducing it to slow the burn.
  • Extinguishing the Fire: When it’s time to put out the fire, close the air vents to cut off the oxygen supply but avoid closing the stove’s damper (if equipped), as this can lead to smoldering and continued smoke emission.


Using a wood burning stove effectively requires a balance of the right techniques for starting, maintaining, and safely extinguishing your fire. By following these steps, you can enjoy the warmth and ambiance of your stove while maximising efficiency and minimising environmental impact. Always refer to your stove’s manual for specific recommendations and safety guidelines tailored to your model.

For more detailed guidance on using your wood burning stove, including how to warm the flue, light the fire efficiently, and keep the stove burning optimally.