Welcome to Hearthstone, today we’re going to discuss a technique for igniting wood stoves referred to as the top down burn method. Though this process has been around for quite some time, it might be unfamiliar to many of you. It may seem a little farfetched, but I assure you the method works flawlessly and it might in fact help overcome some tricky flue situations out there. The method has also been beneficial to many 2020 compliant wood stoves due to the fact that it concentrates initial heat output of the fire at the top of the firebox which warms the flue more quickly and establishes conditions for an adequate draft in a timelier manner. Additional benefits include removing the need to leave the fuel door cracked during the ignition sequence and allowing the initial fuel load to burn for 35 to 40 minutes without having to add wood after the kindling fire has been established. Let’s take a closer look at how the method works.
The top down burn method uses the typical fuels required for starting a traditional fire. Dry season cord wood kindling of a few sizes and an easily combustible paper product with no dire coatings. Many wood stove users employ some type of starting aid, in this case recycled barn stall hay product. As always, never use a fire starter containing petrochemicals in a catalytic stove, as these substances may damage the catalyst material. The major difference between traditional fire and top down burn methods is the order in which the fuels are added to the stove. Traditionally, the paper products are placed on the stove hearth first followed by small kindling, followed by larger kindling and finished off with the cord wood on top.
In the top down method, this order is reversed. We are demonstrating this procedure on our smallest wood stove, the Hearthstone Craftsbury. Log sizes will vary based on your individual stove. The first layer on the stove hearth is the cord wood placed evenly apart and positioned running perpendicular to the primary air inlet of the stove. In the case of the Craftsbury, this means the ends of the log face the front door as shown. The next layer is the largest kindling placed across the first layer of cord wood oriented in the opposite direction. Be sure to leave gaps between the pieces for free air movement, while still covering the cord wood layer. The next layer is smaller kindling, again placed across the layer underneath, covering the entire width while maintaining air gaps between the pieces. The final kindling layer uses the smallest pieces again running perpendicular to the layer underneath while maintaining air gaps.
At this point, if you use a solid fire starter aid, like these cups, place them on top of the kindling now. If you use a gel starter, it can be added during the next step. Position your crumpled paper evenly over the top of the entire fuel wood stack. The final step is to add small pieces of wood to the top of the paper and now we have the completed fuel load. This method can be accomplished with much less total fuel, but the length of burn time is greatly increased by beginning with more fuel in the initial load. Now, we evenly ignite the paper and lastly close the fuel loading door. As always, remember to open the air control fully during ignition.
With the top down method, you may now resume your daily activities as the fire will burn for at least 35 to 40 minutes with no attention required. After the fire is burned down to the point requiring additional fuel simply add wood as you always have. After allowing the added wood to fully ignite, you may now adjust the air control setting to your desired burn rate. Don’t forget if your stove is catalytic, look at your temperature indicator and close the bypass door. If the catalyst has reached the appropriate operating temperature, now sit back and enjoy hours of clean, efficient, renewable warmth in your home knowing that wood heat is one of the most carbon neutral heating methods available.
Thank you for watching this vide and from all of us at Hearthstone, be warm and well.