There are at least three techniques to build a fire in your wood stove. This includes using two parallel logs, top-down method, or using a fire starter. These techniques are based on the three basic stages for starting and maintaining a wood stove fire. These stages include the boiling of water, which makes up a little less than 20 percent of the weight of a properly seasoned piece of firewood. When the wood is heated, that's the popping sound that you hear.
As the wood heats up it produces smoke, a cloud of combustible gas and tar. When the smoke heats up and becomes hot enough, it turns into a fire. As the fire burns and consumes all of the combustible material in the wood, it turns to charcoal. The charcoal creates carbon monoxide gas, which can be poisonous if not properly vented out of a wood stove.
1. Create Two Parallel Logs
One technique to effectively manage the three stages of a wood stove fire is the creation of two parallel logs to build a fire in the wood stove. Place two split firewood logs into the box and leave a space to place a piece of wadded newspaper between them. Place kindling around the newspaper. Light the newspaper, which will ignite the kindling and eventually burn enough to burn the wood and create a good fire. As the kindling and newspaper burn down and the logs start to burn, add more wood to keep the fire going.
2. Top-Down Method
This method is a little harder to get used to but is a reliable way to start a fire in your wood stove. Take three to four pieces of firewood and place them into the wood stove. Take kindling of medium size and place on top of the wood, as well as at angles around the firewood. Put a layer of smaller kindling on top of the medium kindling. Take three to four pieces of newspaper and roll them up at the ends. Join the newspaper pieces with a knot and set them on top of the kindling. This will help you get a good burn going and the newspaper will stay in place on top of the wood.
As you can surmise from the top-down method, lighting the newspaper will ignite the kindling and burn downward to light the wood. This method will give you a good burn in your wood stove for up to two hours.
3. Use Firestarters
Firestarters, made of paraffin wax or sawdust, are commercially made and can be bought at a grocery store. You can also make your own fire starters. These products are easy to use – simply place them among pieces of dry wood in order to get the fire started. They burn reliably but are more expensive than the other methods for burning wood in your wood stove.