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Even though spring is here we are still seeing chilly days and nights in Pittsburgh. Having a warm fire heating up your home will keep you from having to run the furnace unnecessarily during the time of the year when the weather can fluctuate so rapidly. If you have a wood burning stove or fireplace you may have trouble starting your fire or keeping your fire burning. If this is the case, read below for tips on how to start a fire and how to keep it burning.

Starting a Fire

For many, starting a fire can be a challenge and may take a bit of practice. Some believe that there is an art to it, while others would say that you just follow a few simple steps and the fire will all but start itself. Either way, if you are new to starting a fire in your wood burning stove or just need a few tips to get your fire burning faster and longer, then we’ve got you covered every step of the way.

Type of Wood

When it comes to the type of wood that you will burn, you will first need to know the basic differences between a softwood and a hardwood. These differences are important to know how to season the wood you are burning, as well as how fast it will burn. As easy way to remember for those that don’t know much about wood is that the evergreen and pine variety are considered softwoods and that oak, maple and all others that are not considered pine or evergreen are typically considered hardwoods.

If you are storing freshly cut wood outside to dry (wood needs to have less than a 20% moisture content before being burned). Softwoods typically take six months to a year season and hardwoods typically take twelve months to two years. If the wood’s moisture content is too high, the wood will not light easily.

Getting it Started

Once your wood is properly seasoned, you are ready to get your fire started. The easiest and least expensive way to get your fire started is by using crumbled newspaper. It burns fast and clean and is commonly used when starting fires in woodstoves. Plastic, magazines, trash or any other discarded material shouldn’t be used when starting or maintaining a fire.


Stacking wood in a fire is important in order to maintain a steady fire that doesn’t rise too quickly. Stacking wood in a triangular shape is not a good idea because the fire will rise to the top too quickly. Stacking in a “log cabin” style is best. You will lay several logs vertically with space in between and then logs on top horizontally. You do not want the stack to be too high.

Lighting the Fire

Newspaper is commonly used to light a fire because it is inexpensive and burns quickly. You can light the crumped newspaper and toss it on the top of your wood pile. While waiting for the wood to ignite leave the door to the wood burning stove open to allow air to circulate through. You will want your fire to be roaring before the door is closed on the stove. This will reduce the amount of smoke that will be present in the room.

Feeding the Fire

Adding kindling and wood chips periodically will help maintain the fire. You do not want your fire to be smoldering. This can cause too much smoke to be present in your home which is not healthy to breathe in. Let the fire maintain a steady roar so to speak, but not be out of control. You can increase or decrease the amount of oxygen by opening and closing the doors of the stove.

Cleaning Up

Once the fire has burned out and the inside of the wood stove is completely cooled down you will want to shovel out the ash and discard it in an open metal container. Ideally you would keep the container outside as not to be a possible hazard in your home.

If you are in the market for a wood burning stove, then stop by Ed’s Woodshed. Ed’s Woodshed has wood burning stoves and fireplaces in several varieties. You are sure to find one that suites your needs.

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