The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

10 tips for heating with wood

Goat in the snow

MEN postMark's in school today, which means you're supposed to not get an evening post. But I couldn't resist sharing this link to a piece I recently wrote for Mother Earth News about using a wood stove.

I'd be curious to hear what those of you well-versed in wood heat would add to the list. You can comment here, of course, but I'd love to see a few comments on the Mother Earth News post itself. Maybe if it gets enough traffic, they'll put it in the print magazine!

(And, no, the photo of Abigail has nothing to do with wood heat. But doesn't she look sweet against the snow?)

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Two things I would add: You implied this, but if you have a stove with a secondary burn chamber you will extract a higher heat/efficient level as well as decreasing creosote and other particulates.

Also I am a big fan of brick or granite blocks to add heat storage to the system. It extends heating comfort range.

Comment by Gerry Thu Feb 11 20:14:30 2016
Very good article. Thanks for skillfully sharing these tips on heating with wood. I heartily confirm all of them and only regret not having any of this knowledge 27 years ago when I lit my very first fire in our trusty Country Flame wood stove.
Comment by James Vaught Fri Feb 12 11:10:22 2016

Gerry --- Good point. Plus, I completely forgot to mention chimney sweeping. Oops! :-)

James --- Yeah, that's mostly why I wrote it. I had a bear of a time starting fires when I was new to this! Now it seems so easy....

Comment by anna Fri Feb 12 13:05:14 2016

Just posted this at MEN, but figured I'd copy and paste here, too. Those are great tips. Two things I would add:

  1. Make sure your wood is dry, and starts drying as soon as possible after you cut it. Getting bone-dry wood to light is so much easier than wood with even a little bit of moisture or wood that was stacked out in the elements for a season after being cut.

  2. Learn how to make fire starters from paraffin wax or (preferably) beeswax (and/or slumgum). They light easily and burn clean for a surprisingly long time.

With those two tips, I have been able to reliably start a fire with regular-sized (split and bone dry) oak logs, no kindling needed.

Comment by Jake Sat Feb 13 01:35:29 2016
Jake --- Great tips! I don't know how I managed not to mention the absolute importance of bone dry wood. And I know a lot of people like fire starters too. Thanks for chiming in!
Comment by anna Sat Feb 13 09:04:59 2016

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