Wood Stoves: Cleaner Wood Burning Tips

Learn five wood burning tips for a cleaner wood burning wood stove to help keep environmental pollution problems to a minimum.
By the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Editors
July/August 1986
Add to My MSN

Not only are new stove designs and aftermarket products rapidly being developed, but a wealth of information concerning how a wood stove owner can operate his or her stove in a cleaner fashion has also become available.
PHOTO: FOTOLIA/VIKTOR PRAVDICA


Content Tools

Related Content

Elmira Heats Up With An Advanced Line Of Fireview Wood-Burning Cookstoves

Elmira Stove Works offers distinctive, superior quality appliances with its innovative line of Firev...

Woodworking Basics

Learn the basics of woodworking with this book — or buy it for a young friend or family member with ...

Jøtul North American Wood Stove Program Focuses On Clean Air Effort

The "Jøtul Changeout Program" offers a voucher for a new EPA-certified wood stove in exchange for an...

Growing My Own Heat

Cam loves growing his own heat!

Environmental pollution problems have been traced to the output of wood stoves, these five wood burning tips will help keep your wood stove cleaner burning and minimize pollution. 

Wood Stoves: Five Rules for Cleaner Wood Burning Tips

There are some very positive sides to recent wood stove emissions research. In the last few years, we've learned more about the physics of combustion than in all the years since humankind discovered fire. As a result, not only are new stove designs and aftermarket products rapidly being developed, but a wealth of information concerning how a wood stove owner can operate his or her stove in a cleaner fashion has also become available. The five wood burning tips that follow should help anyone burn wood a little bit cleaner.

Rule 1: Use the largest-diameter logs that will burn effectively. Big pieces of wood have less surface area per unit of volume . . . which prevents them from releasing volatiles (a process called pyrolysis) too rapidly. This has been recognized as the single most effective operator technique for reducing emissions!

Rule 2: Build as small a fire as is practical. A stuffed firebox often leads to areas of pyrolysis or charring (the late, charcoal stage, of burning) that can't be reached by an adequate air supply, resulting in incomplete combustion.

Rule 3: Keep the fire hot. Position the logs in your stove so that air can move through the fire zone, and be sure there's sufficient draft opening.

Rule 4: Don't increase or decrease the draft setting dramatically. Pyrolysis continues for some time after the air supply has been cut back . . . so slamming the damper shut can send much of your hard won fuel up the chimney. On the other hand, rapid opening of the damper can carry the pyrolytic products away from the fire too quickly.

Rule 5: Avoid excessively wet or dry wood. Logs that are too dry pyrolyze very quickly, overloading the combustion zone with volatile gases . . . while very wet wood can inhibit effective combustion by absorbing heat for evaporation. Standard air-dried soft or hard firewood (with 15-25% moisture content) seems to be the cleanest burning fuel.








Post a comment below.

 

Joan Price
9/7/2012 7:48:20 PM
I have been looking at wood burning stoves with intent to purchase. I have never owned or operated one, so this article is perfect. Once I have my new stove, I will be sure to employ your tips. Thanks for the information and advice.








Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 66% Off the Cover Price

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Lighten the Strain on the Earth and Your Budget

MOTHER EARTH NEWS is the guide to living — as one reader stated — “with little money and abundant happiness.” Every issue is an invaluable guide to leading a more sustainable life, covering ideas from fighting rising energy costs and protecting the environment to avoiding unnecessary spending on processed food. You’ll find tips for slashing heating bills; growing fresh, natural produce at home; and more. MOTHER EARTH NEWS helps you cut costs without sacrificing modern luxuries.

At MOTHER EARTH NEWS, we are dedicated to conserving our planet’s natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. That’s why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.00 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.00 for 6 issues.