10 tips to make your fire “crackle” well.
With lighting up a fire it‘s a bit like with tying your shoelaces or brushing your teeth - if you start telling your gray-haired neighbour that he lights up the fire wrongly his whole life, your relationship might start to “crackle”. Everyone thinks he knows how to start a fire, but there is a proper way to this too.
We all were taught how to do this, but from generation to generation there could also occur some mistakes that got passed down as well. If we eliminate these mistakes, it will affect the comfort of living, the condition of the fireplace, the consumption of wood - and nature will also enjoy it.
Cleanliness is half of the success
An easily and quickly lit fire requires well-prepared conditions in the first place. Before you start, take the ashtray or any excessive ash to the compost. If you heat regularly, don't forget to clean the fireplace/cauldron and chimney from soot once a year. If you use resinous wood, such as pine or spruce, then even more often. All you need is a few millimetres of soot and the calorific value suddenly drops by tens of percent - the heat from the fire flies up the chimney instead of heating your home.
Please, say not to using garbage
How much heat you get from wood depends on a number of circumstances. Some parameters cannot be changed from day to day – like combustion efficiency, calorific value of the entire heating system (e.g. its ability to accumulate heat), quality of construction… While many can be improved relatively easily, for example using an efficient way of stoking the fire or by a suitable choice of wood or other kind of fuel.
Many people put into the fire almost everything that comes in their hands. Alongside with wood and briquettes, they also use sawdust, varnished boards, paper and all sorts of other - more or less combustible - waste. Regardless of the impact on the surrounding nature, the fumes from such a collage can fundamentally harm your health. In addition, they quickly clog the entire heating system and the resulting calorific value is usually not good. Not to mention, the resulting ash cannot be used in the garden.
Dry bburns etter
The most important parameter of wood is not its type - what tree it comes from - but the degree of its dryness. Modern heaters are usually dimensioned for wood that contains less than 20% residual moisture. When drying outdoors (with rain and snow cover, of course), you get such wood about two years after cutting it down; for softwood, this time may be shorter. The whole process can be speeded up a bit by drying the wood in a really sunny place, cut and chipped. You get about three times more energy from dried wood than from fresh wood.
Hard wood doesn’t automatically mean better
It is generally believed that beech or oak wood is better for heating than soft wood. The calorific value of a kilogram of wood is approximately the same for each type of tree - at 20% residual humidity it is approximately 4 kWh. However, softer wood has a lower density, so a larger volume is needed. It is also necessary to add more often, because spruce, birch or poplar burn faster.
However, softwood also has its advantages. It heats up better with it and warms up the cauldron faster. It is suitable for the off-season, when there is no need to heat "fully". And most of the time you can buy it cheaper.
Measure the dose of wood
Let’s admit it, which of you have read the instructions from your own cauldron or fireplace? The information contained in it is quite important. Thanks to them, you can, for example, calculate how much wood is needed for the optimal functioning of your heating system. When you load it in more, you waste it unnecessarily, and long-term overheating also significantly shortens the lifespan of your cauldron.
The following formula can easily be used to find out how much wood to reach:
Amount of dried wood per hour of heating = nominal hourly output of the heating system / 4 kWh / efficiency of the heating system
For example, for fireplaces with an output of 8 kW and an efficiency of 70%, this means less than 3 kg of wood per hour. The size of the combustion chamber can also play an important role in your balance sheet. While fireplaces often hold a dose for only two hours, the storage furnace can hold up to 15 kg of wood at a time, the heat from the fire is better used, it heats up for many hours and only a small amount of heat flies out through the chimney.
Add more wood only after the initial batch - after about an hour or two - burns out, leaving only hot “glowing” coals. With storage furnaces, you do not add at all; you simply start a fire in half a day or a day again.
Start from the top
Although most people have become accustomed to burning wood from the bottom, especially for modern equipment, a more efficient way is to light a fire from the top. The chimney heats up faster, the wood burns more efficiently and burns longer. In addition, less soot, ash and harmful gases are produced, which is good not only for nature but also for the cleanliness of the heating system.
Do not lay wood carelessly
Regardless of the specific method of laying wood, the same rule applies when lighting from above as with a classic pagoda. The largest pieces are placed at the bottom, smaller ones are placed on them, and small softwood logs or pieces of broken sawdust briquettes are placed on top. The firelighter is also inserted into the upper layer.
Keep in mind that wood does not burn on its own, but in reaction with air. Fire thrives best when the air can flow around the wood from all sides. Therefore, do not forget to assemble the pagoda so that the individual logs touch each other with the smallest possible area and there is enough free space around them.
Don’t forget about the air
One of the most common heating mistakes is an insufficiently secured air supply. The best way to use wood is when the flames are strong - the higher the temperature and the better the combustion process, the more heat you get. This also creates a minimum of harmful gases and impurities.
Different amount of oxygen is required at different stages of combustion - the most when burning, when the combustion process is "lazy". Therefore, open all air inlets and, if you have one, the chimney flap. If your house is well insulated, also open the window and turn off the hood so that no vacuum is created and the smoke goes where it should go.
Use ecological firelighter
There are many ways to light wood or sawdust briquettes. There is a "scout" using chips and birch bark, "traditional" using paper, "modern" using solid or liquid PePa or "wild" using a triple combination of PET bottle, used oil and sawdust.
Everyone has their disadvantages. Scout requires time and patience, which are hardly sought in daily operations. The paper, in turn, is full of printing inks, so it doesn't burn too much, it produces a lot of ash, and larger pieces of wood don't light on it anyway. PePo is made from petroleum products, many people don’t like the smell and also is not as healthy. And when applying "Czech briquettes", sooner or later, either your neighbours or the police will come to you…
The ecological firelighter PODPAL, made of wood and paraffin, ignites even a smaller log, burns with a steady and strong flame for several minutes and the smoke smells pleasantly from it.
Light up the fire
The last step is easy and you certainly look forward to it the most: Light the firelighter and close the door! Sometimes it may take a while for the chimney to warm up enough and start to stretch. Then it will help if you open the entrance door slowly and slightly - so that no smoke enters the room.