If you're planning a cozy winter weekend in front of the wood stove, you may decide to keep the stove burning overnight. It's quite easy to do, but you must know the proper technique to make it work. If you just toss in a few logs and hope for the best, your fire may burn out too quickly or have trouble staying lit. With a little planning and some know-how, however, you can keep things cozy all night long without waking up to stoke the fire every few hours.
Tips for Wood Stove Success
If you're going to keep your wood stove burning overnight, you need the right tools for the job. For best results, you need seasoned hardwood. Hardwoods, like maple and oak, are denser and burn more slowly, giving you more heat and for a longer period of time. Softwoods, like pine, burn too quickly to keep your stove going all night. They also contribute to potentially dangerous creosote deposits in your chimney.
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You also want seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is simply wood that you have stored until all of its moisture has evaporated and dried out. Damp wood and wood that is still green don't burn well, and green wood will create a lot of smoke. Properly seasoned wood will look cracked on the end and will sound hollow when you bang two pieces of it together.
If you haven't already, you should install a smoke detector near your wood stove. Although burning your stove overnight is fine when done properly, it's still better to be safe than sorry. If something does go wrong, a smoke alarm can alert you so you can fix the problem and stay safe.
How to Make a Wood Stove Burn All Night
Step 1: Prepare the Coals
A nice, hot bed of coals is crucial to keeping your wood stove burning all night, which means you'll need to plan ahead. You can't just light a fire at bedtime and expect it to burn all night. You need to start working in the afternoon.
- Light a fire in your wood stove about four or five hours before you plan to go to bed.
- Tend the fire all afternoon as you normally would to keep it going.
- At bedtime, rake all the coals to the front of the stove, spreading them across the front few inches of the firebox and making them fairly thick. Don't spread them out, as this will cool them down.
Step 2: Add Wood
After bringing your coals forward, you'll want to load the stove with hardwood. How you do this matters, so stack your wood carefully. If you don't arrange the wood properly, your fire will die during the night.
- Grab five to seven logs. Ideally, choose logs that are 4 to 6 inches in diameter, properly seasoned, and cut from hardwood.
- Stack the logs in the back of the stove behind the coals. Lay the logs horizontally, keeping them parallel with the door opening. Stack them as tightly as you can with as little space between them as possible.
- Place the last piece of firewood on the stack so that it sits just behind your hot coals and make sure it touches them. The front log should start to catch in a few minutes.
Step 3: Adjust the Damper
Fire needs oxygen to burn, of course, but if you give it too much, your wood will burn too quickly and your fire will die before morning. You'll need to adjust the damper to keep the fire going all night.
- Close the door on your wood stove.
- Adjust your damper until the fire is burning at a slow, low level. You need to keep it open but only a bit. The lowest setting is usually the best.