ALWAYS PRACTICE SAFE BURNING
Some important information about Firewood
Wood that is newly cut can contain up to 80% moisture, This kind of wood should be
"seasoned". Drying it out before use is a proper technique used throughout history. If
your Wood contains more than 25% moisture it is considered "wet", and should not
be burned. To properly season your wood, cut it into pieces that will fit your stove
and stack it in a way as to allow air to circulate through the wood. You should
properly cover your wood to keep rain from getting it wet, which will interfere with the
drying process. Allow your wood to dry for 6-12 months. Wood that is exposed to
wet weather will become saturated with moisture like it was when newly cut. If you
can't find well seasoned wood to use, you may want to consider presto logs, they
can make an excellent substitute as they burn hot and are dry. I occasionaly use
these to clean my stove glass and dry out the chimney since they burn so hot. My
wife rarely has to clean the door on our stove as a good hot fire will keep your glass
clean and allow for a much easier chimney sweep. The creosote that formes with a
well burnt fire is a much more dusty substance, and comes out nicely with a good
brush. Hot fires keep the flue warmer all the way up, therefore less build-up occurs.
Wood Gases cause creosote
The moisture that remains in wood which is seasoned contains wood resins. When
the wood gets hot in the firebox, the resins put out a combustible gas, which, if
ignited by the secondary burn tubes in your stove, account for about half the heat
output of your fire. When wet wood is burned, any water content turns to steam and
mixes with the firewood gas, preventing it from igniting and releasing its heat value.
When the damper is set too low and the fire begins to smoke, the wood gases won't
ignite in the oxygen starved environment, even when your wood is seasoned
properly. When the wood gases aren't burned by the re-burn tubes, they escape up
the chimney, taking the heat with it and creating a very heavy creosote build-up. I have seen
newly relined chimneys that have been burned like this with large build-up within 3-6 months
after the install. Some so bad, a chimney fire could result easily.
To Much Creosote In The Chimney
Creosote is very hard on chimneys. It condenses in liquid form as wood exhaust cools in the
chimney, and then solidifies as it dries. If ignited, creosote can burn for days at temperatures of
2,000 degrees or more, which is hot enough to destroy the chimney and ignite surrounding
combustibles. A hot fire with plenty of oxygen helps in two ways. It consumes more of the wood
gases and at the same time it sends more heat up the chimney, helping to reduce flue gas
NOTE: Trying to keep a fire going all night unattended is not only dangerous, it also tends to let
build-up occur much faster since they tend to smolder more when dampened down and left
unattended. Unless you want to pay for a sweep several times a year ( I'm ok with that ) it is
recommened to burn hot several hours before bed. Dont close the damper or dampen the stove
more than 1/4. Your fire will burn efficiently and be safely out before sleep. Never leave a fire
unattended while sleeping.
Practice Proper Chimney Maintenance
Chimneys should be cleaned when creosote becomes about 1/4" in thickness. Chimneys which
vent properly operated woodstove inserts or free standing stoves generally require cleaning
once per year. If green or wet wood is burned, or if the fire is allowed to smolder, the chimney
will require cleaning much more often, ( like I said, I'm ok with that ) and should be inspected
frequently. Creosote is very sticky, and must be removed with a tight-fitting steel brush if you
have clay liners and a rigid poly brush if you have a stainless steel liner. Chimney fires will burn
away the resiny portion of the creosote, but the bulky build-up remains: if this build-up isn't
removed after a chimney fire, smoke will filter through it, rapidly re-depositing fresh liquid resin.
It won't take long and you will be right back to where it was before the fire. If you find yourself in
this situation, getting build-up over and over after a chimney fire, there are a few things to
consider. 1. Is the chimney salvagable? 2. Does it need to be completely relined? 3. Can my
chimney be chemicaly treated?. There are some options, but most of the time a chimney fire
damages the liners to a point that they must be replaced. The CSIA (Chimney Safety Institute of
America) recommends that cracked liners should be replaced.
Follow These Woodburning Tips
Building an effective fire requires good firewood (using the right
wood in the right amount) and good fire building practices. The
following practical steps will help you obtain the best efficiency
from your wood stove.
1. Season wood outdoors through the hot, dry summer for at
least 6 months before burning it.
2. Properly seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end
grain, and sounds hollow when smacked against another piece
3. Store wood outdoors, stacked neatly off the ground with the
4. Burn only dry, well-seasoned wood that has been split
5. Start fires with clean newspaper and dry kindling.
6. Burn hot, bright fires.
7. Let the fire burn down to coals, then rake the coals toward
the air inlet (wood stove), creating a mound. Do not spread the
8. Reload your wood stove by adding at least three pieces of
wood each time, on and behind the mound of hot coals. Avoid
adding one log at a time.
9. Use smaller fires in milder weather.
10. Regularly remove ashes from the fireplace into a metal container with a cover and store