However, before you get carried away, it’s good to get a few pointers. Unfortunately, lighting the perfect fire comes only with practice, so don’t feel put out if your flames don’t catch on.
Over time, you will probably develop your own method or technique that you find works best for you. However, to get first-timers going, we’ve put together a guide to lighting your stove for the first time…
Beginners Guide to Lighting Your Stove
There are a few things you should know before you light your stove for the first time.
Firstly, be aware that a new stove needs time to ‘burn in’. This is because there may still be some chemical residue from the manufacturing process on its surface. This can cause a slight odour the first time you burn it, but don’t worry – after about 6 hours usage, it should be gone.
Secondly, while the phrase ‘there’s no smoke without fire’ is true, a large amount of smoke tends to signal a badly built fire. Smaller and hotter burning fires are more efficient and produce fewer emissions. A large and slow burning fire is far less efficient and more polluting. If done correctly, you should see minimal smoke from your chimney.
You can find out more with our tips on how to keep your wood burner healthy here.
What you need to light a stove fire
The first step to lighting your stove fire for the first time is making sure you have everything you need. This should include…
- Newspaper or firelighters
- Kindling wood
- Solid fuel (wood, coal, smokeless fuel etc)
- Lighter or matches
- Protective gloves or tongs
In regards to fuel, if you are burning wood, make sure you use properly seasoned wood with a moisture content of 20% or less. You can find out more about this in our Guide to Solid Fuels and Wood Buying Guide.
Whether you use firelighters or newspaper to start a fire is up to you. Many people use newspaper in place of firelighters, as they generally already have plenty spare in their home. If using paper, their are a few different techniques, such as curling it in a ball, tying in a knot or stuffing it into a toilet roll tube.
How to Light a Wood Burning Stove
Now you have everything you need, it’s time to light your stove for the first time! Take a look at the steps below for some advice on getting started…
1. Prepare your stove
If this is the first time you are lighting your stove, it will probably be spotlessly clean. However, since wood burns best on a bed of ash, this may actually be a problem! If you have another wood burning appliance, you could scoop some ashes to scatter on the bottom of your stove. Otherwise, persevere until you’ve built a bed an inch or so thick.
2. Open all vents
Your wood burning stove probably has two air vents. The primary vent is at the bottom and the secondary vent is at the top. More about these later, but for now, they should both be open.
3. Check the damper is open
Your chimney damper, if you have one, sits inside your flue. Basically, it is a plate that can close off your chimney to control or stop excessive draft. When your stove is lit, your damper should always be open, otherwise smoke will puff back into your room. To control it, there should be a handle on the outside of your stove or flue pipe. Be sure it’s open before you start.
4. Warm up your flue
This may not be necessary. But, if your flue is particularly cold, the cold draft can stop the hot air from your stove rising out of the chimney. If you think this is happening, take a roll of newspaper and light one end. Carefully hold it inside your flue until you feel the cold draft pulling upwards.
5. Build your fire
Now the fun begins! Scrunch up your newspaper or get your firelighters and place them on the bottom of your stove. Then, follow these steps:
- Put your kindling wood on top of the paper
- Light the paper from below
- Leave the stove ajar and wait for the kindling to fully catch fire
- Add in a couple of small logs and close the door
- Wait for the fire to get going
There are many other techniques for building a fire, so if you find another way works best, go with it! As long as your fire is burning quick and hot enough to not produce too much smoke, any method you use is fine.
6. Adjust the air vents
Now you’ve got your fire burning, you need to make sure you keep it under control. Slowly close of the bottom air vent, as your fire doesn’t need air from the bottom now it is lit. The second air vent will need to stay open to continue feeding the flames. However, if you find it is burning a bit too fiercely, you can close it off a little.
Once your stove fire is lit, you just need to make sure it keeps going. To give it the best chance, make sure you refuel only as necessary; if you open the door too often or overfill it, it can go out. You should also be sure to sweep your chimney often, as a dirty chimney is not only inefficient, but dangerous.
How to Light a Multifuel Stove
Lighting a multifuel stove is similar to lighting a wood burning stove. However, due to the riddling grate that they feature, there are a few differences to bear in mind. Whether you are burning wood or coal/smokeless fuel will also play a factor in how you light a multifuel stove.
You can find out more in our multifuel stove buying guide.
Here is an outline of how to go about lighting your multi fuel stove for the first time:
1. Start in the same way as a log burner. Make sure the damper and air vents are all open.
2. Decide what type of fuel you will be burning. If you are burning wood, leave a light bed of ash. Coal and smokeless fuel, on the other hand, prefers air to circulate from below, so be sure to completely empty out the ash if you are using them.
3. Continue to add your newspaper/firelighters and kindling. Then, proceed to light it up.
4. Add your chosen fuel in the same way as for a wood burning stove. With coal, add a few pieces in at first so you don’t suffocate the flames. Wait for them to catch fire fully before adding any more.
5. Adjust the air vents. This is the main difference between a log burner and multifuel stove. If you are burning wood, you will want to slowly shut off the bottom vent. If you are burning coal, this will need to stay open. This is because coal burns better if air is circulating from below. Instead, close off the top vent.
Continue to tend the flames throughout the entire time you are using your stove – never leave it unattended or burning overnight!