Please help me with fire lighting

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  • Please help me with fire lighting
  • Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    In my quest to become the perfect Singletracker, I recently had a wood buring stove installed. It is a Charnwood c-four with a double skin external flue (no chimney in the house)

    I’ve only had it a few days but struggling so far to get it up to, and maintain, a nice hot fire.

    This is what I do:
    Firelighter in
    Largish heap of kindling on top of firelighter
    Vent open, door ajar a tiny bit, cue fierce burning of kindling
    Allow kindling to burn until charred, then plonk on a log (well seasoned, 18%ish moisture log)
    Close door, leave vent fully open

    This all goes well but then the fire hovers just below optimum temp on the stove thermometer, most of the time the fire goes out unless I open the door again. Closing the vent beyond boost is terminal, the fire just goes out.

    What am I doing wrong? Will using kiln dried wood help?

    nbt
    Member

    Will using kiln dried wood help?

    yes

    Allow kindling to burn until charred, then plonk on a log (well seasoned, 18%ish moisture log)

    Add more than one log. I start with newspaper and kindling, then when it’s going add one log that I’ve split into three of four bits – like bigger kindling if you will, then when that’s burning well I add two or three logs. The fire is driven by the air passing through the gaps between the logs, so if you stick just one log on top the airflow isn’t driving the fire.

    Doing it this way, I can get the stove really hot pretty quickly, at which point a slow burn will maintain the desired temperature really easily

    ti_pin_man
    Member

    scrumple up newspaper, add in firelighters if you like, kindling on top, bit of coal if thats your thing, add dry smaller logs, light, stand back, make sure airflow is open under fire, once its smoking, its away. then add more logs and build up.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Scrap the fire lighter and use newspaper, the logs needs to start of fairly small until you have a base of embers but I use coal for that.

    However, it sounds to me lack there’s a lack of draw which suggest a blockage somewhere, place some scrumpled up paper at the top of the stove where it leads to the flu, open up all your vents wide and light the paper, close the door it should roar away if not then it suggests a blockage.

    IHN
    Member

    Like nbt says, you need to work up from (or have a mix) of small through to medium/big kindling before you put logs on.

    Going from small kidnling to logs won’t really work (think of it like trying to set fire to a log with a match…)

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    I pretty sure the draw is okay, not seen the fire fililng with smoke at all and when I open the door in the early stages of lighting the flames roar up the flue like a blooming inferno

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    Good stuff, I’ll try splitting down some of the larger logs to get a medium stage.

    Helios
    Member

    Firelighters are cheating.

    Don’t chuck a massive log on top of kindling and shut the door straight away – all you’ll do is smother the burning kindling and cut off air to it at the same time.

    As others have said – put smaller log(s) on while kindling is still getting going (so that kindling hasn’t all burnt out before the log can catch) and leave door open longer so that the log catches before you shut it up…

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Subscriber

    Are you based in Derby?

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    Are you based in Derby?

    no

    ohnohesback
    Member

    Crumpled newspaper first, small kindling, larger kindling, then coal or wood, vent open, light newspaper in several places, close door, watch burn, add fuel as required.

    That worked for me as an eight year old starting the family fire way back in the 70s. These days they’d have the social services round…

    banks
    Member

    I just use a fire lighter & game of jenga over the top – bit of space between all & vents open door closed

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    I pretty sure the draw is okay, not seen the fire fililng with smoke at all and when I open the door in the early stages of lighting the flames roar up the flue like a blooming inferno

    Describes mine perfectly that, like I’ve said on here before turns out the sweep I used was useless and left lots of jackdaw nests in the chimney. It would start off Ok but would hardly burn up, the smoke escaped and it only really burnt well when the door was open.

    Try the tips above for lighting if you still have no luck the consider what I’ve said, I found out the hard way as I believed the sweep. The guys who fitted came back thinking they had done something wrong and had to knock a hole in my chimney breast again only to find out the real cause.

    mcmoonter
    Member

    I start by putting two larger pieces side by side, I fill the gap with newspaper, put kindling on top, by the time the kindling is up to temp the logs have started to burn. I never need to start it with the door open, just open the bottom vent.

    mcmoonter
    Member

    [video]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twa_UgKVrSw&feature=youtube_gdata_player[/video]

    trail_rat
    Member

    firelighter ?

    4/5 sheets of scrunched up newspaper and small kindling with bigger on top (just a chopped up log – no need for fancy kiln dried stuff)

    unless your using a big block of fire lighter theres no way your getting enough heat and burn into your kindling to create a fire – more smouldering embers

    trail_rat
    Member

    other thing is – ill bet that being external and im guessing not used often. the flue is cooling down , you need a really big dump of heat to get the cool air out the flue and get some warm air in to start the draw – thats where the news paper comes in. otherwise youll just have a smothered fire.

    drlex
    Member

    The Father-out-law always reckons that with log fires, “one can’t, two won’t but three will”.
    Firelighters sure save on faffing about with kindling; I now use them with bonfires.

    sugdenr
    Member

    Silver birch bark and pine cones found lying around in the woods. Strips of silver birch bark and cones are both brilliant firelighters, full of oil/resin.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    Drac, the flue was only installed on Monday so I doubt it is blocked yet. If there is a problem with draw then it is not going to be sorted out with a sweep.

    ill bet that being external and im guessing not used often. the flue is cooling down , you need a really big dump of heat to get the cool air out the flue and get some warm air in to start the draw

    I’d also considered this, that was my rational for using firelighters, do you think paper would be better for achieving this? Would a base of coal work better at getting that big dump of heat in first?

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Drac, the flue was only installed on Monday so I doubt it is blocked yet. If there is a problem with draw then it is not going to be sorted out with a sweep.

    Fair do but don’t to assume just fitted means it’ll be fine, so was mine and yes maybe a sweep isn’t the answer, would have been for me if he’d been any good. I do hope it’s not the case that it is just your fire preparation skills.

    ohnohesback
    Member

    Newspaper is a lot cheaper than firelighters. You can’t run before you walk. You need the paper to light the kindling to get enough heat to ignite the main fuel be it coal or wood.

    trail_rat
    Member

    coal wont help at all.

    kindling is used to light coal fires….

    once you get the jist of it you can actually light a fire with paper and split softwood – without needing kindling BUT it seems to be an art – my mrs cant do it for toffee but i can.

    unfortunantly that means i have to split kindling for her 🙁

    teasel
    Member

    I use rip-cut twists (little curly bits of fir and pine I produce by cutting along the grain) as my base. Then some bone-dry kindling arranged in a lattice about two or three layes high and then the mid. Once that lot is going nicely a fling-ob a log or two. The trick is to keep air between the ash and the bits you’re trying to ignite, IME.

    Edit : a few strips of birch or cherry bark is good at the bottom of any fire as a highly flammable starter.

    5thElefant
    Member

    If it’s an external flue you need to get heat into it.

    Newspaper on top of the kindling helps get some heat into it but you need to keep feeding it small stuff until you’ve got a full on inferno (bothe vents open). Let that die back to a heap of glowing embers before you start loading it with medium logs (top vent only) then eventually get the big stuff on there and start closing the top vent.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    so what I’m hearing so far is:

    firelighter or paper
    generous stack of kindling, well spaced to allow airflow
    Once kindling is well alight add smallish log
    Once this is well alight add larger logs, keep vent and door open until this point.

    No advantage to using coal, kiln dried logs may help

    Missing anything?

    cbmotorsport
    Member

    I use a big piece of fire lighter, handful of kindling, light it leave door open an inch to get it roaring, chuck on a smallish dry log once the flames are roaring, and close the door with both vents open. Then keep adding as you go. Once the fire is established I wind in the vents until I get a nice consistant slow lick of flame, that way your logs last longer and it pumps out a reasonable amount of heat.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Definitely need more than one log. Never manged to get one log to burn well – the heat escapes from the outside of the log. When building open fires at least, you have to have something opposite the burning side to keep the heat in.

    cbmotorsport
    Member

    Meant to say, I also use the coal briquette things sometimes too. They’re really good, smokeless, and burn for hours, usually still warm after 24hrs.

    Premier Icon Drac
    Subscriber

    Coal helps plenty but it’s not necessary you can just use wood.

    You can close the door once the heat is up enough that the kindling is burning fairly strongly.

    Premier Icon nedrapier
    Subscriber

    I can’t see what mcmoonter’s posted int he youtube vid, but Google “upside-down fire method”. Totally counterintuitive, but amazingly effective.

    Efficient with fuel, burns nice and hot, zero maintenance once you’ve got the kindling going, and fun to watch. It’s the only way I’ve built fires since. It’s just better!

    nbt
    Member

    franksinatra wrote:

    so what I’m hearing so far is:
    firelighter or paper
    generous stack of kindling, well spaced to allow airflow
    Once kindling is well alight add smallish log
    Once this is well alight add larger logs, keep vent and door open until this point.
    No advantage to using coal, kiln dried logs may help
    Missing anything?

    That’s it.

    Premier Icon franksinatra
    Subscriber

    I can’t see what mcmoonter’s posted int he youtube vid, but look upt he upsidedown fire method. Totally counterintuitive, but amazingly effective.

    Not sure what this is but the stove is in now so not going to get the fitters back to turn it upside down, it would look rubbish 😉

    Thanks everone, will have a bash later and let you know the outcome, with photo!

    headfirst
    Member

    A quick skim of the previous posts seems to show a lack of this tip:

    Open a window a little, to help with the draw. This made all the difference for us.

    Premier Icon BigJohn
    Subscriber

    I’m officially the worlds worst lighter of BBQs. After half an hour of frustration and flapping I usually resort to getting the blowtorch on the job.

    Does upside down lighting work with BBQ charcoal?

    5 or 6 chunks of coal.
    Jenga style tower of kindling on top of that about 2″ high.
    Firelighter in the middle of that.
    Bang a log on top.
    Open the fire and leave the door ajar for a few minutes for it to really take.

    Works every time*

    *on our fires.

    IHN
    Member

    What we need here is Ray Mears. He could start a fire using a fishslice and a pile of wet tissue paper 🙂

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Don’t use coal, it’s not carbon neutral!

    I went on a Ray Mears weekend course. It was interesting, birch bark is what you need if it’s wet.

    From that upside-down fire link:

    How would you like to light a fire perfectly and have it burn for 3-7 hours without touching it or putting on more wood?

    I would hate that! The whole point of an open fire is to stare thoughtfully at it and tend it frequently!

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