There are different methods to warm up a house during winter. Some methods rely on the burning of oil or other fuel to produce heat. Others use electricity. But of all the methods available, the cheapest is burning wood. In comparison to any fuel, wood has a low cost. Even more, you can collect wood in the forest if you live in rural areas. Hence, your monetary investment would be minimal.
There are some basics things you would like to know about wood burning stoves:
- Wood burning stoves are easy to operate. All you need to do is place some wood in the firebox and light it. Close the door, and enjoy the generated heat. From time to time, you need to stoke the stove to keep the heat constant;
- Wood is readily available in rural areas. In the city, you can purchase it from specialized stores. The best type of wood for this purpose is the so-called hardwood. This usually burns longer, which makes more efficient use of the material. However, it tends to be more costly;
- The best approach is to use expensive wood during winter and cheap during autumn and springtime;
- For the wood to burn properly, the stove needs a source of oxygen. Hence, you must ensure that enough air enters the firebox. You can install a dumper to regulate the flow of oxygen;
- Make sure you have a chimney for the generated smoke to escape.
Burning wood involves different chemical reactions that forcibly need oxygen. When you initially light the wood in the firebox, the water in the wood vaporizes.
Hence, almost no heat is released. When the wood reaches 500 °F (260 °C), the wood breaks down into different chemical compounds. Some gases are generated as well as heat that you can already feel.
Assuming that the firebox has enough oxygen to keep the chemical reaction, the gases will burn at 1,100 °F (593 °C). The charcoal will burn at higher temperatures.
This raises an obvious question, what is the optimal temperature for your wood-burning stove to operate? In other words, at what temperature is the burning of wood most efficient for heating purposes?
Knowing the Optimal Temperature of Your Stove
Reaching the optimal temperature is crucial for your wood-burning stove. This ensures that the wood combustion produces heat. The combustion produces water vapor and carbon dioxide too. But your goal is to keep those byproducts to minimum levels.
You achieve it with the right temperature. Otherwise, you may end up having excessive smoke and toxic gases. Depending on the type of stove, the optimal temperature is between 375-650 °F (190-343 °C).
To determine the optimal temperature for your stove, you should buy a suitable thermometer. Carefully measure the temperature in the firebox when the combustion is not producing smoke and creosote is not building up.
Now, your task is to keep this temperature constant. To help you make more efficient use of your wood-burning stove, you can apply the following tips.
Select the Right Wood
This was already briefly discussed. Besides choosing hardwood for the winter, you must make sure the wood is completely dry. Wet wood does not produce heat as fast as dry wood.
Also, a lot of the material will be consumed while water is evaporating.
Start the Fire Properly
To start the fire, you must place several logs in the firebox. On top, you put some paper with kindling. Before lighting the fire, open all the vents. This will prevent the smoke from hitting you in the face.
Then, simply light the paper with a match or lighter. In general, you should start a small fire first. Then you add small pieces of wood little by little.
When the fire starts, close the door of the stove and get ready to enjoy the heat. If the wood doesn’t burn properly, you can use a bellow to inject air and speed up the combustion.
Depending on the amount of wood and the type of stove, the fire will last 6-8 hours. After this time, you need to stoke the stove.
Prolong the Fire in the Stove
The longer the wood burns, the better. Avoid using wet wood and adjust the air input to let only the necessary amount to sustain the fire. When buying a wood-burning stove, you should choose a cast-iron one. Stoves made of thin-gauged materials are not so efficient to keep heat.
If you can afford it, a stove with a thermostat is the best option. The thermostat will help adjust the airflow automatically. This makes combustion more efficient.
Wood burning stoves are cost-effective home heating solutions. A wood-burning stove is easy to use. There are several safety measures that you have to follow to avoid a fire or an accident. Follow all the instructions that come with your stove, and everything will be fine.