Starting a Fire

How to Light your Stove

If you’re the proud owner of a new wood-burning or multi-fuel stove, chances are you’re very eager to get it up and running!

However, before you light your stove for the first time there are a few tips we would like to share with you to make sure you’re using your fire safely, correctly and efficiently. Getting your fire lit perfectly is something that will come with practice, and as you become more familiar with your stove you will probably develop your own technique.

It is also important to note that while we expect a fire to cause smoke, you should expect a little more smoke and some fumes from the stove the first time it is lit due to the paint curing, which is completely normal. We would suggest opening a window and leaving the room for a while, and also starting with small fires for the first few times lighting the stove and gradually building up to regular use.

To light your stove, you will need:

  • Newspaper/firelighters
  • Lighter/matches
  • Solid fuel (wood, coal, smokeless fuel etc.)
  • Kindling wood
  • Protective gloves/tongs
  • A poker

Please note – It is dangerous to burn unseasoned wood. Only burn wood with less than 20% moisture content. Burning wet wood will lead to tar formation in the chimney which is dangerous.

It is your choice whether you use firelighters or something like newspaper to start your fire, however newspaper is the most popular choice simply because a lot of people have it to spare around the home anyway. If you choose to use paper, there are a few different methods to experiment with and find which one works best for you. Such methods include tying a knot in the paper, stuffing it into an empty toilet roll tube or simply scrunching it into a ball.

If your stove is brand new and has never been lit before, you will need to prepare the firebox before igniting a fire. This is because wood actually burns on a bed of ash, so a spotlessly clean stove is not the ideal environment for starting a fire. If you are fortunate enough to have another wood burning appliance, you can easily scoop some of the ash up to scatter over the bottom of your stove. If not, the other option is to persevere until you have built up a good bed of ash (about an inch thick). The ash helps to insulate, this way you’ll get a higher combustion temperature which is important for complete combustion.

The next step is to ensure that all the air vents are open on your stove. If you have a wood burning stove, there will be one or two vents. The primary vent is usually at the top and the secondary vent at the bottom. If you have a chimney damper (a plate which sits inside the flue and has the ability to close off your chimney to help control drafts), it should be open when the fire is lit otherwise the smoke from the fire will blow back into the room instead of out through the chimney. There should be a handle located on the outside of your stove or flue pipe to open and close the damper. It’s always worth double checking that this is open before you proceed to light your fire.

The next step is not always necessary, however if your flue is particularly cold – most likely during the winter months, it may be worth warming it up before lighting your fire to help the hot air from your stove rise up out of the chimney. Should you need to do this, an easy way to warm up your flue is to simply light one end of a rolled up newspaper and hold it inside the flue until you are able to feel the cold draft pulling upwards.

Now to get the fire lit! Take your paper or firelighter and place it on the bottom of the firebox in your stove. Put your kindling wood on top of the paper or firelighter, and light it from below. Make sure the logs are spaced out enough that air can circulate, but close enough together that the logs can heat each other up. Leave the stove door slightly ajar and wait for the kindling to fully catch fire. Once the kindling has caught fire, add in a couple of small logs and close the door. The fire should begin burning properly soon.

Now that the fire is lit and burning, it is important to keep it under control. Slowly close the air vent at the bottom of the stove, as the fire no longer needs air from the bottom since it is lit. The top air vent will need to be kept open to provide oxygen to keep the fire lit. If the fire is burning a little too aggressively, you can slightly close off the top vent until you are satisfied with the height of the flames. If you need to refuel the fire, open the bottom air vent until your new logs have caught fire. Another tip is to open the bottom air vent about a minute before you open the stove door for any reason, this will help to avoid the risk of ashes falling out as you open the door by increasing the draft in the stove.

This is just one of many techniques that can be used to light your stove, so if you find a different method that works better for you then go with it! As long as the fire is burning quick and hot enough to produce minimal smoke, any method that works for you is fine.

To give your fire the best chance after lighting, only refuel when necessary and keep the door closed as much as possible. Frequent opening of the stove door or overfilling your stove will eventually extinguish the fire. Remember to sweep your chimney often (we recommend at least once per year) to keep your stove burning efficiently and safely.

If there is anything you are unsure about, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or pop into the shop for a cuppa. We’re a friendly bunch!