Since we bought our first wood burner a couple of years ago, lots of my friends have commented on how they would never know where to start starting a real fire. Having a wood burner is a great way of heating a room(s) but it does require a little effort. We have been using ours most days during the winter and every 3 or 4 days I give it a good clean, wood burns best on a bed of ash so its best not to clean it out too often but when it starts to look like this I can't help myself.
I begin by shovelling most of the ash out into a metal bucket and sweeping the outside of the stove and the hearth with a dustpan and brush. The ash either goes on the compost heap or is used to mulch the fruit beds, its high in potash so great for soft fruits.
Then I use a damp cloth to wipe down the outside of the stove and the hearth, next I clean the glass, I dip the damp cloth into some of the wood ash and rub it all over the inside of the glass door. It takes off all the dirt with ease, then the door just needs wipe down with a clean cloth.
Learning how to lay the fire has taken lots of trial and error but feel I have it cracked now, the bottom air vent should be fully closed and the top air vent fully open this helps create the draw that pulls the fire up through the fuel. I start with 6-8 sheets of scrunched up newspaper, not crumpled too tight as we want some air pockets, next 10 kindling sticks (we use pallet wood) and 10 pine cones go in, the sticks criss cross the width of the stove to help the fire spread evenly (pine cones burn really quickly meaning no need for firelighters). Next a couple of softwood logs or in the case here some chunky bits of pallet, I like to get the fire roaring before adding the denser hardwoods, we use mainly Ash and Silver Birch which hubby has permission to collect from a local woodland.
To light the fire the paper is lit in several places and the door is almost shut, leaving it open about a cm helps create a draw of air and the rest of the fuel catches quite quickly. Once the fire is roaring I add more logs once the room is getting warm I adjust the top air vent to restrict air access to the stove this helps maintain the temperature but use less fuel. After that we let the logs burn until only a thick bed of embers remain , then we refill with more logs, I have found this way the most economical in logs and heat creation. The key to getting the most from your wood burner is understanding how air affect the fire, on a windy day you will burn more wood as the updraught in the chimney is fierce on still days you may have trouble getting the fire to light and the room may fill with smoke, if this happens a big fire of kindling sticks is usually enough to heat the chimney enough to create a draw.
So that's what I do, do you do anything different?