How to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove

Nothing beats a powerful, rolling fire to create a room full of warmth and relaxing ambiance. That’s where our expertise comes in! Learn how to build a fire like a pro and enjoy the warmth from your wood stove all season long.

What is a Wood Stove?

A wood stove is a traditional, self-contained heating choice that offers warmth, ambiance, and even cost savings on your energy bill. Many designs and sizes of stoves exist, but they all use firewood as the primary fuel source to create a steady, radiant heat through wood combustion.

Wood stoves are constructed with a solid cast iron or steel firebox lined with firebrick. They require venting, which is specific to the location of the stove in your home. Some wood stoves come standard with a blower to move the air, others have it as an option. Some wood stoves — like those of the Quadra-Fire® brand — have additional features and benefits like a four-point burn system and advanced energy technology to maximize effectiveness.

Wood burning stove inside a home

How to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove

While it may seem daunting at first, starting a fire in a wood stove is simple with these considerations in mind.

Step 1: Prepare Kindling

The key to a strong, radiant fire is using quality fuel: dry, seasoned wood. Wood that contains too much moisture will result in plumes of smoke and an inefficient burn. To ensure wood is ready to burn, conduct these simple tests:

The Moisture Meter

The most reliable way to tell if wood is ready to burn is by using a moisture meter. Wood that is ready to burn will contain 18-20% moisture content. When testing wood, make sure you’re testing moisture in the right spot by splitting a piece of wood and inserting the probes ¼-inch down into the wood.

The Color Test

As the moisture content in wood decreases, the wood will become a lighter color. When stacking your wood after chopping it, take note of its initial color. After months of drying out, you will notice the deeper hues lighten to a light tan or grey. This is a good indicator your wood is well on its way to be used for fuel.

The Smack Test

While wood is drying out, you will notice a difference in its sound when two pieces are smacked against each other. Wood with high moisture content will make a thudding sound when two pieces of wood are smacked together whereas dry wood makes a solid, cracking sound.

The Bark Test

When wood is ready to be burned, the bark will start falling off. If you notice the bark flaking off when you handle the log or even when it's resting in the log pile, the wood is probably ready for use in your stove.

After conducting these tests, begin splitting your kindling into pieces that are 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Add the kindling, along with wadded-up newspaper, to the firebox to serve as a base for your fire. Using extra-long fireplace matches, light the newspapers. After the newspapers are lit, you are ready for the next step: building and spreading.

Step 2: Build and Spread

Once the kindling burns down, add smaller pieces of wood to the fire, then start gradually adding in a few larger pieces. After this is built, knock it down and spread out the fire with a poker or other tools. Be sure to use caution when spreading out the fire since there is always the risk of cracking or breaking the brick line.

Pro-Tip: By using heavy-duty fireproof gloves, you can use a chunk of wood and your gloved hand to spread out the fire. If you use this method be sure to invest in a pair of gloves that extend all the way to your elbow and practice extreme caution.

Step 3: Use the Quadra-Fire Automatic Combustion Control

Once your fire is strong and steady, lay larger logs in a crosshatch pattern. This is done so there will be air between each piece as it falls. After you get the fire going, you then can rely on the Automatic Combustion Control (ACC) to begin adding a controlled stream of air to your growing fire. ACC technology delivers precision start-up and air control for consistent burns by feeding the fire with air when it’s needed most—and continues to manage it during extended burns, with no need to crack the stove’s door or further tend to your fire.

Tips and Reminders for Starting a Fire in a Wood Stove

Close-up of wood coals with flame 

Tip #1: Better Wood, Better Fire

It’s a no-brainer: better fuel, better fire. With the tests mentioned previously, you'll be able to ensure your firewood is ready to be burned, equipping you for powerful warmth all season long. Keep in mind that not all types of wood are the same. Different types of wood will offer you different benefits. To learn more about different types of wood, check out this blog post on wood species and their impact on your wood-burning stove.

It’s no secret that Quadra-Fire is all about efficiency. If you are ready to take your heat to the next level, all while saving on fuel, read our top tips for getting the most heat from every log.

Tip #2: Stop the Smolder

The more your fire smolders, the more wood is wasted. While you may be tempted to keep a wimpy flame going to avoid starting from scratch, a smoldering fire creates creosote build-up and wastes your valuable firewood. Not to mention, the more creosote build-up, the more you are running the risk of black glass.

Tip #3: Watch and Learn

Are you more of a visual learner? Check out this video for an in-depth firsthand lesson on building your first fire in your Quadra-Fire stove.

Video Tutorial: How to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove

There you have it! Now that you know the ins and outs of building a strong, rolling fire, it is time to kick back and relax within the glow of your hard work. If you have further questions or curiosities, our network of certified Quadra-Fire dealers are ready to help! You can find a dealer near you by visiting here.

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