Home » How to use a Wood Stove Safely and Efficiently? A Beginner’s Guide

How to use a Wood Stove Safely and Efficiently? A Beginner’s Guide

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Wood stoves are in high demand as more people move from gas and fossil fuels to wood. It gets even better with wood pellets readily available or manufactured at home. You’re covered whether there are lots of firewood around or not.

The wood stove burns the firewood or wood pellets and produces heat. The appliance makes it possible to use wood as a home heating source. However, before you switch to using wood, it is vital to understand how the wood-burning stove works.

Since the wood stove sports a different working principle to fossil fuel appliances, transitioning from other heat sources to wood may require a learning period. You want to learn how to use the wood stove safely. This beginner-friendly guide will discuss the wood stove in detail.

What are Wood Stoves?

What are Wood Stoves

A wood stove is an enclosed heating appliance that burns wood in different forms inside its chamber. The stove burns the wood and efficiently distributes the heat in the space. It is also equipped to channel the smoke outside.

The wood stove is similar to the fireplace as they both use wood as fuel; however, the wood stove has a more efficient heating system while minimizing smoke. The fuel you can use in a stove includes solid wood, wood flakes/sawdust, and wood pellets.

It uses a system where wood is burned inside the chamber, and the heat is absorbed into its metal body. From there, the heat radiates to the surroundings. There’s also the option of transferring the heat through ducts and fans.

Some of the wood stove’s significant parts include the flue acting as a chimney, taking smoke out of the room. The area inside the stove where the wood burns is called the firebox. It is surrounded by a metal frame that transfers the heat produced.

The primary and secondary air vents below and above the glass are also vital parts of the wood stove. They control the supply of air to the wood while burning. All these are secured with a door that gives access to the firebox.

Benefits of Using Wood Stoves

Benefits of Using Wood Stoves

Many households are switching their heating source from fossil fuels and gas to wood because of its many benefits. But what may these advantages be, and how will it affect you? Let’s find out some of the pros of using wood stoves.

1. Reduction in the Cost of Energy

Rising energy costs plague heat sources like gas and electricity, leading households to transition to using affordable wood. Burning wood in wood stoves is cost-effective and will save you energy costs.

2. Reliability


If you’re looking for a reliable heat source in your home, you should consider the fuel that puts you in control. Electricity can easily get cut off during heavy storms. Wood will keep heating your home if you have more lumber to feed it. There are no timeouts with wood; get enough lumber, keep your stove in good condition, and you can brave any winter.

3. Fewer Emissions and Eco-Neutral

Using a wood stove produces fewer emissions when compared to other sources like fossil fuels and burning wood in fireplaces. Its enclosed firebox prevents the smoke from entering the room as the flue channels it out.

Burning wood in wood stoves is also considered an eco-neutral heat source as it uses a similar amount of carbon dioxide produced during its growth cycle. Compared to other sources, the fewer emissions eco-balance makes it an exciting choice.

4. High Efficiency

High Efficiency

Wood stove traps all the heat produced during combustion and transmits it efficiently across the room. This gives the process a high-efficiency rating against burning wood over open fireplaces with poor heat transmission mechanisms.

The wood stove has high efficiency due to its secondary combustion system. This system re-burns the smoke before leaving through the flue. It gets even better with the metal body, which helps transfer the heat.

Types of Wood Stoves

Types of Wood Stoves

To improve the efficiency of the wood stove and cater to different needs, manufacturers make the stove in varying designs, sizes, and shapes. They are also made of various materials like steel and cast iron.

You’ll find that wood stoves sport many variations for appeal, fit, and efficiency. However, based on their burn system, the two primary types of wood stoves are catalytic and non-catalytic.

1. Catalytic Wood Stoves

Catalytic Wood Stoves

Catalytic stoves use precious metal catalysts like palladium to create combustion. This makes the stove expensive but produces more heat as the catalyst encourages the re-burning of the smoke.

The system is more challenging to use and may require more experience. Another drawback is that it requires much maintenance to keep running.

2. Non-Catalytic Wood Stoves

The burn system used in non-catalytic stoves is called a baffle, where oxygen is pumped into the firebox to burn the wood. Non-catalytic stoves are popular with minimal maintenance requirements, endearing them to users.

The stove is easy to manufacture and use, making it beginner-friendly. Non-catalytic are more affordable but may burn more wood than catalytic stoves.

How to Use a Wood Stove?

How to Use a Wood Stove

As a beginner with little to no experience in using wood stoves, here’s your chance to understand the simple process. Here, you’ll learn how to light a fire and keep the fire going in the wood stove.

1. Preparation

The preparation stage is vital in understanding your appliance, as models vary based on the manufacturer. You should read the owner’s manual for specific device instructions. Take your time to check what each control represents.

This is also the time to choose the best fuel to use. As a wood stove, select adequately dried wood. Ideally, wood that has been drying for up to six months. Keep wet or fresh wood away from your stove, as it creates a lot of smoke with little efficiency.

Open the flue dampers and the draft registers so smoke can move out during combustion. It also helps to encourage the fire to burn, especially when you initially light up the wood in the firebox.

2. Put the Wood and Some Kindling

Put the Wood and Some Kindling

Now, it’s time to get the wood quantity and arrangement right. Stack it wrongly, and you’ll struggle to maintain a fire for five minutes. The firebox’s wood arrangement and quantity can affect how quickly you can get a fire going. It would help if you also had kindlings to make it easy for the fire to burn and reach the larger pieces.

You can start by arranging a few pieces of wood and then rolling a ball of newspaper. Then, add the kindling on top of the paper to encourage burning.

3. Light a Fire

Use a matchbox to light a fire and set it on the paper under the kindling. You may need to light a few more places to ensure the fire does not die out. The combustion at this point requires as much air as possible, so leave the door open for three to five minutes. By now, the kindling should be burning.

4. Add More Wood

Add More Wood

Add smaller logs on the burning kindling before they die out while ensuring you loosely stack them. Minimal air circulation is still vital at this stage, so leave it unlatched for about ten to fifteen more minutes while the door is closed.

5. Add Larger Logs

Keep the doors closed when you’re not adding more wood to prevent heat loss. As the wood burns, add larger pieces of wood to keep the fire burning. Adding only three to five large logs at a time is advisable to avoid jampacking the firebox and restricting air circulation.

6. Partially Close the Air Intake

Partially Close the Air Intake

The air intake allows air into the firebox to encourage combustion. But after the fire is established, you can close the intake partially. The partial closure encourages the slow burning of wood while leaving oxygen for combustion to continue.

7. Consider Using Fans

Fans can help distribute the heat from the stove more efficiently, so it’s an excellent addition. The heat fans are placed on the stove and blow the hot air around the stove to other parts of the room.

Safety Precautions

Safety Precautions

Keeping safety at the forefront while heating your home using a wood stove is essential, as fire outbreaks are common when the stove is neglected. Here are some safety precautions to keep in mind:

  • Install a fire extinguisher in the room.
  • Keep children and pets away from the stove when burning, as the metal around the stove gets extremely hot and can burn.
  • Keep inflammable like wood, kindle, and paper at least three feet away from the stove.
  • Allow the fire to naturally die out rather than putting it out using water.

Wood Stove Maintenance Tips

Maintenance is essential to prolong the lifespan of the stove and prevent accidents. The frequency of maintenance depends on the type of wood stove, frequency of usage, amount of smoke produced, and more. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Regularly clear out the ashes under the grate to improve airflow. Use a shovel to pack the ashes and add them to your compost.
  • Use seasoned wood to reduce creosote accumulation in the flue, which can cause fires.
  • Weekly firebox cleaning is recommended for frequent users, while a general maintenance check every year is also ideal.

Things to Consider While Choosing a Wooden Stove

Buyers Guide: How to Choose a Wood Stove

You’ll be spoilt for choice when purchasing a wood stove, with the many variations in the market making your choice even more complicated. You must choose the best wood stove for your needs. This buyer’s guide features factors to consider when buying the stove.

1. Efficiency

Consider the appliance’s efficiency before purchasing, as they vary depending on the brand. Choosing a stove with a high efficiency and low emission rating is crucial. Do you know the best way to ascertain these? Check their compliance with certifications like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

2. Durability and Maintenance

Durability and Maintenance

Some wood stove types require frequent maintenance to keep it going. Give priority to stoves made from durable materials like steel. You also want to consider the parts, as the more removable parts in the appliance, the easier it is to clean.

3. Heating Capacity

The heating capacity of wood stoves is usually measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). The stove heating capacity you need will depend on the room size. You’ll need a stove with a high heating capacity to heat a large room adequately.

4. Budget


Consider your budget before settling for any appliance, as they come in different price ranges. Nevertheless, a shoe-string budget does not mean you cannot get an impressive buy. Look out for cost-effective options from the lesser-known brands.

5. Aesthetics

The aesthetics are essential since the wood stove can be an exciting addition to your home’s design. Choose the size, shape, and design that match the room’s interior and your style.


Follow this section for more clarity on wood stoves as we answer some interesting questions.

Q1. Can you sleep with a wood-burning stove on overnight?

Ans: Following the necessary precautions, you can sleep with the stove overnight. However, you should avoid putting the fire out with water or smothering the wood.

Q2. What are the disadvantages of a wood stove?

Ans: Wood stoves require a lot of maintenance. Also, wood stove accidents can be extreme, ranging from fire outbreaks to choking on the fumes.

Q3. How long does a wood stove last?

Ans: A wood stove will last for about ten to twenty years on average, with their longevity depending on maintenance, stove durability, and usage.


Transitioning from fossil fuels or gas to wood stoves may be daunting, but it gets easier once you understand how the stove works. The stoves come in varying shapes and sizes, depending on your needs.

A wood stove is an appliance that helps to burn wood in its enclosed chamber and efficiently distribute the heat. It is a valuable tool for heating in homes and is easy to use. Consider your safety by following all the precautions and ensuring regular wood stove maintenance.