Burning Firewood
The Fine Art of burning Wood in a Wood Burner.

It must be understood that no two heating days (or nights)
are exactly the same. A
nd so, all the many variables
must be controlled to the best of our ability.

If we could control density, size, shape, and moisture
of every piece of Firewood;
ambient air temperature;
plus r
ooftop wind speed and direction,
then life would be a dream.
Dream on . . .

Your method of placing Wood in a Wood Burner
can determine your success or failure, and your delight or disgust.

Putting Firewood in a Wood Burner is properly called, "Building a Fire".
Using a plan to position pieces of Firewood will greatly affect the heat output.

Boy Scouts are taught to stack firewood like a Tepee,
which allows Oxygen to enter the bottom and exit the top like a Chimney.
In fact . . . it actually creates a Chimney.

The hot air which the fire creates, rushes out the top like a hot-air Balloon.
And the Tepee shape protects feeble embers from the wind.

In the photo above, you will see a similar "Chimney Effect" inside a Wood Burner.
The two pieces of Firewood are laid close together at their tops,
so the flames from the Kindling have maximum contact with the dry wood.
The flames are seen shooting out the top of the "Chimney".

If the two pieces of Firewood were separated, they would not produce the same Chimney Effect. The more hot air that rushes out the top; the more cool air is drawn in the bottom to replace it. This concentrated air movement has the same effect as a mild Blower whipping up the flames.

You should consider this Chimney Effect when you load a Wood Burner.
If you pack it full and tight, it will have trouble breathing, and may "Smother".
This condition creates more smoke and Creosote than heat.

For instance, if you were burning boards and laid them flat on top of the embers, they would tend to insulate and smother the fire. But standing them on edge would allow more air passages. If a third piece of Firewood was laid on top of the existing two in the photo above, the Chimney Effect would be diminished,
and so would the flames, and the heat.

This retarded condition is OK if you plan to stoke a fire for an extended period, where heat output is not as important as preserving the fire.
But for quick, comforting heat; remember the Chimney Effect.

This graphic shows a smothered fire on the left and one with good air movement which will create "Chimney effects" between the pieces of Firewood.

The blue diamond represents an object placed there to position the firewood and maintain a "Chimney". It can be a small chunk of wood which will have served its purpose by the time it burns up. It is best placed toward the rear, so it does not block draft. It can also be a piece of metal, which can be reused.

A Log is commonly split into 4 equal pieces. The quarter-round split Firewood on the right benefits from being placed with the curvature up since it exposes 27% more wood in contact with the glowing Embers. Narrower splits will benefit even more from this positioning; a 1/8 split would double the exposure to 54%.

Fine split Kindling exposes maximum surface area to embers and releases its BTU's very quickly, compared to burning the whole Log or Limb. If you want quick heat, place the Firewood for maximum exposure and draft,
being careful not to overheat your Wood Burner.

Oxygen is essential for Combustion !

There is a given amount of Oxygen consumed
to produce a given amount of BTU's.

The amount of Oxygen entering the Draft Inlet
determines the size of the fire.

The flame nearest the Draft Inlet,
will get the most Oxygen.

There will be NO Oxygen available at the back of the
Wood Burner, until the fire near the Draft Inlet is satisfied.

A fire started near the Draft Inlet
will progress toward the back slowly.

A fire started near the back
will progress toward the Draft Inlet Oxygen much faster.

The bottom line is:
Ignite your Kindling near the back, and build the Firewood
on the Kindling, and toward the Draft Inlet,
or be prepared for slower warmth.

After a long burn, you will usually find the Coals burned out near the Draft Inlet. Most of the hot Coals will be toward the rear, where they have been waiting for Oxygen.

Scrape these hot Coals toward the Draft Inlet.

Once you have a bed of hot Coals, then crowd the new pieces and the large ends toward the Draft Inlet to allow the Oxygen
to reach the Firewood in the rear.

A weekly handful of common Table Salt thrown on a hot fire
is said to turn Creosote into harmless dry flakes.

If you want a spectacular fire; these Firewoods make lotsa Sparks:
Hemlock, Chestnut, Tamarack, Larch, Spruce, Cedar, Yellow Poplar.
(Be sure to have a tight-fitting fireplace Screen).

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