Close-up of burning wood

Top-down – light your fire 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.

If you want to read how to build the fire correctly in your particular Scan wood stove or fireplace, you will find a separate chapter on this in the user manual for the product.

Wood-burning stove Scan 65-7 with soapstone cladding in a white office with wicker chair

Stack your firewood right

Here are a few simple steps for lighting the fire correctly in your wood burning stove.

Close-up of a hand lighting the fire in a wood stove Scan 83
  1. Start by placing two large logs in 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.

Once your wood burner is hot, after about 15 minutes, reduce air inlet by shutting the damper vents. 

It’s better to add fresh firewood more often in smaller amounts (one fair-sized log).

How to ensure good draft and enough air supply during ignition

  • 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.
Large stack of dry wood

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.
  • Too much or too little firewood in the wood-burning stove or fireplace during firing - you can find the optimal amount in the product's user manual.
  • 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’

There are many great reasons for lighting your fire correctly. Here are three:

Green forest with pine treas

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.

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.

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.

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

If all old wood-burning stoves are replaced with new clean-burning ones, and used according to the user manual, the contribution to total particle emissions will decrease significantly. By choosing a clean-burning stove, you are helping to reduce particulate matter emissions by up to 80%, in addition to getting 40% more efficiency out of each firewood log.

At the same time, you can enjoy the cozy warmth of your fireplace, knowing that you are heating your home with a renewable source of heat.