How to Light a Log Burner

A log burner is a fuel-efficient way of heating your home. It not only provides warmth to the room it’s in but also radiates heat into other rooms too making it more energy-efficient than central heating alone. 

It typically takes around two hours for a burner to reach optimum burning temperature, so you have to be patient when lighting one.

However, once they’ve reached this point, they’ll burn for several hours without you needing to add any more wood.

Here’s how to light a log burner properly.

How Do You Start A Fire In A Wood Burning Stove?

Starting a fire in a wood-burning stove is easy, it just requires a bit of preparation. 

Kindling

Kindling is placed at the base of the burner. It’s basically just some small bits of wood and wood shavings you can buy from any DIY store.

The kindling will catch fire and then burn long enough to set light to more substantial pieces of wood placed on top of it.

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Newspaper

A base of scrunched up balls of single sheets of newspaper dotted around and between the logs will help the fire stay alight and flames catch the wood.

It is important to allow air to move in and around the newspaper. Some people make ‘firelighter’ fans with the newspaper, to allow it to burn at its most sufficient. However, scrunched up balls work just fine for most people.

Logs

Logs should be cut into short lengths so that you can fit several in at a time and build up the temperature quickly without using too much kindling or waiting for it to burn out before adding some more logs etc. 

Smaller diameter logs will also produce more heat than larger ones which is always an advantage if you’re looking for warmth fast.

How to Light a Log Burner

Firelighters

Firelighters are not essential for lighting your log burning stove but they really help the fire catch and spread. If you don’t have them check out our post on how to light a log burner without firelighters.

If you have them, mix a small amount with kindling and paper at the base of the burner.  Never add them to an established fire.

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How Do You Light A Log Burner For The First Time?

Now, on to the main steps, lighting a woodburner doesn’t need to be hard. Follow these steps and it can be easy.

Lighting A Log Burner For The First Time

Note that a new log burner will likely give off chemically smells for the first three burns or so. This is entirely normal.

It is advisable for you to first use it on a milder day (or when you do not need to be in the house) and then open your windows and doors to allow the smell out of the room.

The first time you light your woodburner, you should open all vents on the door fully, this allows air into the stove, allowing oxygen to mix with fuel thus creating heat which in turn starts the burning process.

It is advised that you use three firelighters when lighting your woodburner the first time, these should be lit and placed into the stove over a period of around 5 minutes to ensure they are fully alight before closing all vents on the door. 

The next step is to place 12 – 15 pieces of wood onto the grate in an overlapping pattern so air can pass through them allowing it to circulate inside the fuel bed thus controlling the rate of combustion

Leave to burn for 10 minutes once this has been done. Then open two vents on the door slightly allowing air in but maintaining low oxygen levels, this will help establish an efficient smouldering fire that produces less smoke compared with large flames. 

Once you’re happy there are no further risks, leave the door closed for 1 – 2 hours to allow the logs to establish an efficient combustion.

Log Burner Smokes When First Lit

When first lighting a log burning stove, excessive smoke often results from using unseasoned or damp wood, or improper lighting methods. To reduce this, start by ensuring your wood is well-seasoned, ideally with a moisture content below 20%. It’s also essential to use proper lighting methods.

Consider the “top-down” method, where you build your fire with kindling and smaller logs on top, and larger logs below. This allows the fire to catch more effectively, reducing initial smoke output. Lastly, make sure your flue or chimney is clean and not blocked, ensuring efficient airflow.

Regular maintenance of your log burner is important to keep it working efficiently and safely. By following these steps, you can significantly reduce the amount of smoke produced when first lighting your log burner.

Safety And Risks Of Lighting A Log Burner

There are some precautions you should take when lighting your log burner. Here are some important things to note:

  • Avoid building a bonfire like structure with smaller pieces of wood around larger logs as this can cause them to burn erratically which is dangerous and wasteful 
  • To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, keep all vents on doors closed during the initial “bedding in” period after lighting (at least 1 hour). Carbon Monoxide is colourless, odourless and poisonous which can kill if breathed in. Carbon monoxide poisoning symptoms are headaches, sleepiness or drowsiness, nausea or vomiting, dizzy spells, breathlessness and chest pain. If any of these symptoms appear after lighting your fire, seek medical attention immediately. It is wise to place a carbon monoxide alarm near your fireplace.
  • Always ensure your flue is clear and of the correct size and the correct angle before lighting, a blocked flue can cause carbon monoxide poisoning. Get your chimney swept regularly.
  • Don’t touch hot surfaces with bare hands and avoid wearing dangling clothing whilst in close proximity to any source of heat – around 800mm. Never hang your washing over the fireplace.
  • Ensure that children are kept away from all fires at all times.
  • Ensure you have at least one working smoke alarm fitted in your home – this should be tested regularly to ensure it’s working correctly. If there is no battery or it’s not working correctly replace it immediately. When buying new batteries for these types of appliances always buy the same type i.e. don’t mix alkaline with rechargeable or different makes/types/ages together as these can leak then explode causing injury or damage within your home.
  • It is also advisable that you have an appropriate fire extinguisher placed in close proximity to the stove while it’s being lit for the first time just in case. Once established, this risk reduces although it never disappears completely so always err on the side of caution by having one nearby either way.
  • Only burn seasoned logs – this is important as green or wet wood doesn’t burn efficiently and can create dangerous fumes when burnt.
  • With the exception of paper, don’t burn any other rubbish on it.
  • Always read manufacturers’ instructions before lighting any burner in your home and ensure that you understand them fully.

How Do You Light a Log Burner

Lighting your log burner for the first time doesn’t need to be daunting and complex; it is relatively easy to do. Follow these instructions and you should have no problems.

Also, it’s important that you understand and take precautions when lighting a log burner for the first time.