If you were to ask the average person how to light a wood fire on a stove, they will most likely tell you to just toss the logs with a match and the writing is done. However, how to properly light a fire in a wood stove or insert is rigorous science. Big fires start slowly and steadily, winning the race and our hearts on cold nights and frosty mornings. In this article, we will focus on wood-burning stoves and inserts and the procedure that works best when starting a roaring fire.


If you’ve read our article on the spectacular science of stacking firewood, then you know that the best type of wood to use in any wood-burning fireplace is dry seasoned wood. This is very important because you want your fire to burn clean, with a lot of heat and little smoke. If you do not want any kind of smoke then you can use the best electric fireplace. Cured wood is commonly used indoors, but some like to use it outdoors for bonfires and regular fire pits. This firewood becomes very light due to a lack of moisture. This is what you want. A log that is too dense will not ignite easily and will cause smoke and a variety of scents to spread throughout your home.

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Traditional newspaper is better to light, because it is dry, thin, and most importantly, flammable. Magazines or catalogs should not be thrown into a fire because they have a thick paper that smokes easily and burns slowly, generating a large number of poisonous fumes. Crumple up the newspaper and layer it on the bottom of the stove before lighting the fire. Be sure to use split wood when lighting the fire and not round logs. Split wood is easier to light and it is easier to add round logs after lighting the fire. Round logs burn very slowly and do not ignite easily, so save them for when you have a steady flame.


You want to place the wood in what I like to call a Jenga pattern. Depending on the size, lay the first layer of logs (as many as will fit) vertically, with space between each log. On the next layer, stack the records horizontally so it looks like this:

A Jenga or “log cabin” pattern, as some call it, is a great approach, because you want a large amount of exposed area of firewood to light up when lit. This ensures that your fire will rise at a steady rate and will not catch fire immediately as with a teepee-style structure. With a log cabin layered fire, it is easier to control the amount of wood you need to add to the fire gradually, making it last longer and burn brighter.


If you have wood chips (other than the barbecue type) or spare firewood, sprinkle this over the firewood pile and even around the bottom to feed the fire. You can carry out this step as many times as necessary while using your stove or insert.

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Check to make sure your range is set to allow the maximum amount of fresh air in the box. Napoleon Wood stoves have a single lever combustion control that regulates the air, establishing clean combustion. You want oxygen because flames are attracted to it and will seek it out. Turn on the newspaper that you wrinkled in the front. Leave the door open for 3 to 5 minutes while everything settles. If you close the door too quickly, the fire may go out. The same goes for a wood insert; make sure the flue is slightly open, allowing the fire to rise. If you have a screen or doors on your insert, leave them open a bit before closing them completely.


Once the fire has been burning for a long time, close the door and wait until the fire ignites. At this time, allow it to reach a constant temperature of at least 400 ° F; this is a good temperature to keep the fire going. Before starting to put it out, check how the fire burns. It takes a minimum of 10-15 minutes to reduce the heat and turn off the heat. Make sure your fire has been established before you start lowering the air, this way no smoke will enter the room. Another important factor in resisting maintaining a weak fire. You want a strong and vigorous fire. If it’s not cold outside, build a fire before the temperature drops in the evening, so your home can warm up well just in time for the cool night. Smoldering fires (when they are not strong) are dangerous and pose health risks to your home from both creosote and smoke. You also don’t want to waste your firewood.


Ashes should be cleaned from your stove or inserted before using your fireplace, at all times. Wait a full day before sweeping them; the ashes are hot and take a long time to cool down. Using extreme caution, a pair of gloves and a sweeping brush, place the ash in a metal bucket and place it away from the fireplace, hardwood floors, carpet, or walls. This is a safety precaution in case the bucket contains hot ash. You also don’t want an ash bucket for pets or children to enter. Instead of storing it around the house, take it outside and place it in the garden or patio. Or learn how to use ashes in your home.

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