1. Burn a Hot Fire
Start your fire by burning it hot for 30 minutes. Smoldering low temperature fires produce creosote (black sooty substance) that can line your chimney and risk causing a dangerous chimney fire. Burning a hot fire will help maintain adequate venting temperatures and limit creosote deposits. All EPA certified stoves (catalytic and non catalytic) work best if you begin with a hot fire.
2. Use Dry Well Seasoned Wood
Dry well seasoned wood (under 18 percent moisture content) will aid in burning a hot fire. Burning wet wood or "green wood" is similar to throwing water onto a fire. The moisture in wet wood will lower the burning temperature, reduce efficiency and cause creosote deposits. Use a moisture meter to check your firewood for its water content. Alternatively, a drop test can provide a good sense of the moisture content to the trained ear. Firewood should be seasoned at least 6 months before burning. For a descriptive firewood guide, please visit http://www.canadianchimney.com/firewood.html
3. Use Kindling to Light a Fire
Using lots kindling in combination with crumpled up newspaper to start a fire is a great way to get the fire burning hot and efficient from the start. Gas log lighters, large pieces of wood and other methods will result in low temperature, smoldering fires.
4. Burn Small Pieces of Wood
Much like kindling, small pieces of wood will burn hotter than larger pieces and will limit smoldering. When you get the kindling burning, slowly add small pieces of wood. Once the fire is burning hot, you can load the stove with three pieces of wood. Ensure there is enough space in between each log to allow for air movement \ flow. Avoid the use of large, thick pieces, as this will reduce the combustion rate and cause a low temperature fire. Size of wood should be 2" to 4".
5. Supply Enough Combustion Air
A fire requires oxygen in order to burn. Ensuring the fire has enough oxygen to cleanly burn is essential to wood burning efficiency. Ensure the air controls are all the way open. For the first five minutes, keep the wood-stove door open slightly. Dampering down your fire to much will often cause excessive creosote buildup. A good way to check to see if your fire is burning hot is to observe the flue exhaust gases. If the vented gasses appear like smoke, you are not burning hot enough. Wood burning flue gases should be a vapour with low particulate emissions.
Operating your fireplace, wood-stove or insert efficiently is essential for fire safety. This video illustrates five basic tips to burn a fire clean and efficiently.
If you are interested in gathering your own firewood and would like to learn how you can do it yourself, stack the firewood and everything else there is to know, check out our How to DIY Firewood Guide