7 Outdoor Wood Furnace Tips

by Ryan Walker
7 Tips For A More Efficient Fire

I don’t claim to be a wood furnace expert, but I have noticed a few things that have helped me to save time, money, and wood. Here are a few wood furnace tips: maybe you’ll find a few of them useful.

Tip 1: Establish A Properly Sized Fire

Establishing a properly sized fire, scaled to the outside temperature, is important. The colder it is, the more rapidly the heat will be taken from your furnace. As such, in the depths of winter, your fire you have will probably be larger than the one you have during the spring and fall seasons. Conversely, a large fire during the spring or fall is probably not called for.

Tip 2: Learn To Control The Rate of Burn

You can control the rate of burn, to a small extent, by placing the wood “bark first” onto the fire. The fire will take longer to work into the wood, thus extending burn time. If you don’t need the immediate heat, this is beneficial. For example, if you have a large bed of coals, you need to decide: do I want the fire to roar, or do I want a slower burn. If you want it to roar, throw your wood in bark side up. If you want a slower burn, place it bark side down. Snowy wood can be used to similar effect. No need to have your fire roaring if you don’t need it to be.

Tip 3: Green Wood Can Be Useful

You can have slower burning, less intense fires by burning green/wetter wood. I did not start burning our proper, seasoned firewood until December. Prior to that, I used random trees that had been cut down that year. They were not seasoned nor split, and tended to be on the smaller side. Of course, you need a certain amount of seasoned wood to get things going. Once you have established a good fire, you can burn the wet stuff.

Tip 4: Plan Better For Overnight Burning

When using wet wood, if you’re not using the whole firebox, throw a few logs to the back, where they will not burn as part of the main fire. This will dry them out, and you can then rake them forward later, for slightly better burning. This technique can also be handy to try and maintain embers for those overnights when you’re burning a medium sized fire but don’t want to start a fire from scratch in the morning. If you do it right, you’ll open your firebox to one log, charred and smoldering.. easily re-kindled into a roaring blaze. It’s faster and easier than starting a fire from scratch (and you don’t have to burn tinder or much kindling, which is a plus.)

Tip 5: Conserve Wood

You don’t need to keep the fire going permanently, during shoulder seasons. One good fire per day is often enough to put enough heat into the house. Until the temperatures outside justify it, save your wood. This does not work for those with spouses who are “always cold”. In that case, you’re going to need more wood. There’s no two ways about it!

Tip 6: Thermoelectric Generators (TEG)

Depending on your setup, you may benefit from a TEG (thermoelectric generator.) TEGs allow you to generate electricity or light from the heat your wood stove (or any other heating device), assuming it reaches appropriate temperature. Although it is somewhat cost prohibitive to generate large amounts of electricity with these devices, they can be used affordable at a smaller scale. It would be quite deluxe, for example, to wire up 500 watts of TEGs, powered by your wood stove, to charge your solar batteries during the winter!

Tip 7: Birch Bark

Birch bark makes awesome fire starter. Any birch species that produces papery bark will do. The pine resin inside the bark produces a flame that burns strong.

Good luck in your wood burning adventures.

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2 comments

John Cornellier May 2, 2018 - 11:45 pm

Tip 8: have a two-stage wood storage process. Bring it in and store it near the fire for a few days before burning. This dries the wood and humidifies the air the latter being welcome in the winter.
Tip 9: use an exterior intake to provide air to the stove.
Tip 10: use decent hardwoods, splits of softwood can get the fire going but hardwood keeps it going.
Tip 11: stack and dry your wood properly, neatly, in a windy place outside for the summer.
Tip 12: never open the stove door unless necessary; add more wood less often.
Tip 13: add thermal mass to the top of the stove such as old slabs of rock or a kettle if the air’s dry.
Tip 14: cook rice pudding and stews on it, dry your clothes over it, simmer stews and soups.

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Charlotte Walker May 6, 2018 - 10:33 am

These are wonderful tips for an indoor wood stove — the tips written in this post are for a Outdoor wood furnace however! 🙂

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