How to Get the Most Heat from a Wood Burning Stove

By its very nature, a wood burning stove should be hot, toasty and cosy but how do you get the most heat from a wood burning stove possible?

It’s not always just as easy as it looks. Getting the right type of heat from your stove requires several key factors to come together: the amount of fuel, position of the stove, correct setup, cleanliness, airflow, and fuel type.

Below we’ll discuss how to get the most heat from a wood stove, so that you can put your feet up and enjoy it!

How to Get the Most Heat from a Wood Burning Stove

Don’t burn too much too soon

First things first, don’t burn too much too soon.

Some people might think that the best way to get a robust and roaring fire is to stack it high and wide from the beginning.

Although adding more wood can technically make the fire hotter, it can be dangerous and it’s important to find a balance for both the size and duration of your fire. If you put too much wood into your stove, it can cause serious damage that’s almost impossible to repair.

The ideal temperature for your stove fire is between 500-860F°. Any lower than this, and there won’t be enough heat to warm the house. It will burn too slow to have any noticeable effect.

But, what may surprise you, is that if your fire is hotter than 860F°, most of the heat will not go into your home. It will simply escape and head out of the chimney.

This might all sound complicated and not worth your time, but best and easiest way to tell how hot your stove is would be to use a thermometer. You can get thermometers specifically designed for stove use. Just stick it on the front or on the pipes, depending on the make.

When measuring and adjusting just remember that if the temperature is too low, either let more air in or add some more wood or if it’s too high, just wait for it to cool down and naturally decrease over time.

Circulate the heat

Next up, make sure you’ve placed the stove in a suitable location where the heat can actually circulate properly.

The best place to position your stove is on the first floor, in the middle of the house. Because heat rises and radiation goes outward, the heat will circulate throughout your home and not out through the walls.

Beyond that, there are a number of additional options to consider. If you have the space, you could install a fan above your stove so the heat circulates around the room and doesn’t just leave through the ceiling. Or, if you have the resources, you could install a vent from the stove to the other rooms of your house.

For those of you living in a house with an inbuilt, existing open fireplace, consider putting your stove there. In many cases heat vents will already be in place.

A final idea that is becoming more popular is the use of a stove boiler. Even if your stove didn’t come with one, you can purchase a boiler that attaches to your stove and natural heats the water, which then travels around the house using a network of pipes to heat every connected room.

Build and light the fire properly

Not to sound too much like your dad, but like almost everything in life, if you build someone poorly you’ll get poor results and vice versa.

In the case of wood burning stove fires, a proper build will consist of a # symbol using some medium-sized logs and firelighters placed in the middle. Surrounding this, you’ll want a healthy arrangement of kindling.

When you first light the firelighter, you should notice that after about ten minutes, the kindling should be glowing hot. Feel free to use some old newspaper (or old bills!) if you’re struggling to get it started. Once you have a visible fire going, you can throw on some bigger logs. Just be sure to throw them in gently to begin with, as to not snuff out the beginnings of the fire.

These bigger logs will be your primary fuel source, providing the most heat and the longest burn time.

Keep your stove clean

Easier said than done, we know but when it comes to stoves, keeping them clean make a noticeable difference both in terms of performance but also general maintenance.

If your stove is filthy, the heat that should go into your home will instead just go into the dirt – sucked into old ash piles making it far less efficient.

Ideally, you should have about ½ an inch of ash at the bottom of your stove and no more, to provide a bit of insulation. If you let this ash pile up, it can absorb too much heat. And it can even cause blockages.

It’s not a huge job if done regularly, so just make sure to clean your stove on a relatively frequent basis. We also recommend leaving the stove to cool overnight (or approximately 12 hours) to ensure it’s completely safe to clean the next day. And finally, remember that your chimney needs to be swept at least once a year.

Control the airflow

Most stoves contain vents. This is to ensure that you get the most heat out of it.

For the uninitiated, most wood burning stoves usually have two vents. A primary vent and a secondary vent.

The primary vent is for when you want to get the fire going. Once it’s up and running, you can lose it. The secondary vent exists because fires always need air. No air means no oxygen. And no oxygen means no fire.

Just be aware that even though fires need oxygen, you also need to limit airflow from time to time, as big flames can become inefficient. Thus, controlling the airflow.

Finally, as always, make sure to use the right kind of fuel and the right quality.

There’s no point in following all of the above and hoping for the best fire performance possible if you’re buying poor quality, wet wood. Be sure that the wood you use contains no more than 20% moisture. Ash, Oak, and Birch are brilliant for this type of burning.

We hope this helps, and for everything else home heating stick with