How to stop smoking when starting a fire in a wood-burning stove

Written by denise nyland
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How to stop smoking when starting a fire in a wood-burning stove
Starting a fire in a wood-burning stove without smoking up the room may require an extra step. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

If smoke enters the room when you are lighting your wood-burning stove, you may need an expert to remove an obstruction from the chimney. If the stove and chimney both are in good working order, the problem no doubt lies in your fire-starting procedure. For the smoke to rise up the chimney, you need an updraft. Because hot air rises, smoke and hot gases escape up the chimney when a fire is burning. When the chimney is cold, the weight of the column of cold air initially forces smoke into the house. Your job is to pre-warm that air.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Newspaper
  • Metal tongs
  • Matches or lighter

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  1. 1

    Contact a chimney professional, often called a "chimney sweep," to inspect and clean your chimney every year, before cold weather sets in. Obstructions such as a bird's nest must be cleared for safe and proper operation of your stove. Creosote, a liquid byproduct of wood combustion, can condense on the inside of the chimney, causing corrosion and increasing the risk a house fire. Your chimney sweep can remove obstructions and creosote build-up.

  2. 2

    Open the damper by rotating the valve on the side of the chimney pipe. If there is a ventilation port at the bottom of the stove, it also should be open when you are starting a fire. Opening the damper and vent increases the air flow through the fire chamber and makes the fire burn hotter and faster. Once the fire is burning, you can partially close the vent and damper for a slower-burning fire.

  3. 3

    Prime the chimney by warming it before you build your fire. Warming the chimney starts the convection current that will draw smoke from the fire box up the chimney. To prime the chimney, crumple some newspaper and hold it with a pair of metal tongs. Ignite the paper, and hold it inside the fire box near the chimney entrance. The heat and smoke from the burning paper will warm the air in the chimney so the air will rise and be vented through the chimney.

  4. 4

    Start the fire in the wood-burning stove once an updraft is established in the chimney. Starting the fire will be aided now by the chimney's draft.

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