Close-up of burning wood

Protect the environment – and light your fires first time

You’ve probably got the message that you can reduce particle emissions from wood burning by replacing your old wood stove with a clean burn stove, fireplace or fireplace insert.
But did you know that you can reduce particle emissions even more simply by stacking your firewood in a certain way?

How to light your wood stove correctly

If you light your stove or fireplace correctly, you’ll be reducing the particle emissions by 50-80%.This results in reduced soot and ash, ensures better oxygen supply and means that your first laying of firewood lasts longer. Top-down fire lighting means stacking your logs fairly tightly, and then lighting a small fire on top of the stack so that the fire burns downwards. The stove reaches its operating temperature faster, and the gases are combusted more efficiently. Correct fire lighting and fire tending can also prevent the flue pipe catching fire and reduce the risk of a house fire. Flue pipe fires are often caused by inefficient wood combustion.

Stack your firewood right

Here are a few simple steps for lighting an eco-friendly fire in your stove.

Hand lighting a fire in a wood stove

  1. Start by placing two large logs at the bottom of the firebox.
  2. Next, place a layer of kindling on top of the logs, ideally in several layers, with some air between the sticks.
  3. On top of the kindling, add 2-3 firelighters.
    (If you would usually use newspaper as tinder, bear in mind that it produces needless amounts of ash and adds to the soot that is harmful for the environment).
  4. The last step is easy: simply light the fire, leaving the door slightly ajar while the fire catches.
  5. Once your wood burner is hot, after about 15 minutes, reduce air inlet by shutting the damper vents. 
  6. It’s better to add fresh firewood more often in smaller amounts (one fair-sized log).

Ensure enough air supply

  • Open all the stove’s damper vents. Leave the door slightly ajar for the first few minutes until the fire has caught.
  • Take care not to shut the damper vent(s) so fully that the flames are extinguished. Your firewood should always burn with a visible flame.
  • Take care that your home has enough air supply to ensure that your wood stove has enough oxygen for combustion.
  • A kitchen fan and extractor that remove air from your home reduce the draft needed inside the chimney pipe.

The risk of soot and flue fires is greatly reduced if you follow these recommendations.

Tom Erik Galambos, FLF - Norwegian national association of chimney sweeps

Typical fire-lighting pitfalls?

  • Incorrect lighting technique, including slow ignition and low temperature results in greatly increased particle emissions. 
  • Use of unseasoned, damp firewood results in 10-30 times higher soot formation and particle emissions than dry, seasoned firewood.
  • Forget newspaper as kindling. Use birchbark, wood shavings and firelighters instead.
  • Avoid “slumbering” your wood-burner fire, i.e. cutting off the air supply to keep the fire going overnight
  • A fire with no flame doubles emissions of carbon monoxide and particles.

Three good reasons to ‘light it right’

Top-down lighting is all-important because it’s good for the environment, but there are even more great reasons for lighting your fire correctly. Here are three:

  1. It cuts environmental pollutants
    Stacking a fire correctly, lighting it from the top and ensuring a good draft also results in reduced emissions of greenhouse gases and particulate, thereby reducing local air pollution. Firewood is a renewable energy source, and therefore more climate-friendly than fossil fuel heating.
  2. It is safer
    If you light your fire correctly, and tend it safely, you’ll be taking better care of your wood burner. Meaning less maintenance, cleaner glass and reduced risk of soot and of your flue pipe catching fire. 
    Burning firewood also provides space heating in a power cut, and saves grid electricity generally, contributing to the reliability of national energy supply.
  3. You save money
    Correct fire lighting and tending utilises your firewood better, achieving up to double the heat for your home. That saves you money.

How can you tell if firewood is dry?

Dry firewood is lightweight and has deep cracks. Knock two logs together and it should sound like a bat hitting a ball.

If all old wood stoves are replaced by new clean burn stoves, and if they are used as instructed in the user manual, the contribution to total particle emissions will be radically reduced. Meanwhile, you can cosy up by your wood stove with a clean conscience, secure in the knowledge that you’re enjoying the warmth of a pro-climate, environment-friendly stove.

If you use unseasoned firewood (more than 20% moisture content), the soot and particle emissions will be 10 to 30 times greater than for dry, seasoned wood.



Chimney sweeping and fireplace maintenance

If you keep your wood stove burning intensively, you’ll need to consult your local chimney sweeping service about your sweeping requirement, and decide whether your flue pipe might need more frequent sweeping. In addition, it’s important to check your wood stove ahead of each burning season and replace worn parts like door gaskets and check if anything is broken. Learn more about stove maintenance in the Assembly and Instructions Manual.

Why should you opt for a clean burn stove from Scan?

A new fireplace from Scan is a safe choice whether you are replacing an old wood-burning stove or installing a brand new fireplace. By choosing a clean burn stove, you will be helping to reduce particle emissions by up to 90%, while achieving 40% more efficiency from every log you burn.