How to Light a Wood Burning Stove Efficiently

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Wood Burning Stove

In preparation for the cooler autumn and winter months, we’ve put together a handy guide to efficient lighting when burning wood in a multi-fuel stove, ensuring you’re all set to cosy up in front of a crackling log fire.

The benefits of using a wood burning stove

Wood burning stoves have gained popularity for their efficiency, providing direct, radiant heat that can warm a room quickly and effectively.

Every AGA multi-fuel stove is built with sustainability in mind as they’re Eco-Design 2022 and Cleaner Choice compliant. Plus they’re suitable for Smoke Exempt locations in line with DEFRA so you can enjoy the warmth and ambience with the peace of mind that your stove is highly efficient with low emissions, which help to improve air quality.

Responsibly sourced smokeless wood is a renewable resource, which also means it has a lower carbon footprint compared to alternative fuels.

Wood burning offers a cost-effective alternative fuel option to gas and electricity and when used in a considered way, may help to reduce energy bills.

How efficient lighting can help save money and reduce environmental impact

Efficient lighting techniques ensure that your wood burning stove operates at its maximum potential, using less fuel and producing less emissions. This reduces both the cost of operation and the stove's environmental impact.

What fuel type does this guide apply to?

AGA multi-fuel Ludlow, Ellesmere and Little Wenlock stoves can burn kiln-dried wood and smokeless solid fuels for lower carbon emissions. Fuels certified for use in smoke exempt areas are compliant with 'Ready to Burn' standards which means they have a moisture content of less than 20%. This reduces smoke and helps improve air quality.

To ensure you use the correct fuel, please refer to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) authorised fuel list and information provided by Ready To Burn. This guide only applies to lighting a fire using wood in a multi-fuel stove.


Before lighting a wood burning stove, proper preparation is crucial for both efficiency and safety. 

A clean stove will burn fuel more efficiently, so make sure you clean your stove regularly, including the glass, firebricks, baffle plate and ash pan. 

As proper ventilation is essential to maintain a good draft which will support efficient combustion, ensure the stove's air vents are clear and the flue is not obstructed. 

If you have a clean and properly ventilated stove, start the lighting process by gathering all necessary materials and tools, such as firelighters, kindling, logs and a poker.

Step-by-step guide to lighting a wood burning stove

  1. Open the fire door and open the primary air control by pulling it fully out.
  2. Open the secondary air inlet by pulling the control fully out.
  3. Cover the grate with crumpled pieces of paper and lay 10-12 pieces of kindling on top of the paper towards the back of the firebox.
  4. Ignite the paper and close the stove’s door.
  5. When the kindling is well alight open the fire door and add more kindling of a larger size to sustain the fire. Close the fire door.
  6. When a hot fire bed is established add your wood.
  7. When well alight, open the primary air control to a maximum of 50% and the secondary control to the desired setting.

Both controls should be adjusted in conjunction with each other to get the

appropriate burn rate, with the exact settings on each control depending on the draught conditions of the chimney.

How to get maximum heat from a wood burner

First of all, make sure you’re using dry, well-seasoned wood with moisture content below 20%, which will produce a higher heat output.

Air flow control is crucial in maximising the heat from a wood burning stove. To get the fire started, you must keep the primary air vent open.

Once the fire is burning steadily, gradually close the primary air vent and use the secondary vent to regulate the air flow. It's essential to keep the secondary vent open enough to maintain air flow, but not so wide that the flames become too large and inefficient.

Although it may seem to defy common sense, excessively intense flames can actually lead to inefficiency.

In addition to potentially damaging your stove, it can result in heat escaping through the chimney and quickly depleting your fuel supply.

To optimise heat output, aim for an efficient temperature of between 260°C (500°F) to 460°C (860°F), which can be measured using a stove thermometer.

And remember, cleaning and regular maintenance are essential factors in getting maximum heat from a wood burner.

How to keep a wood burner going

Regularly add more wood to maintain the fire and use a stove poker to rearrange logs for optimal combustion.

Before opening the door, open the primary air control fully as this will help to eliminate any smoke or fly ash resident in the combustion chamber. Add logs to the stove fire, close the door and adjust the primary air control to the desired position.

How to put out the fire

Close the air vents to reduce oxygen supply to the fire, then just allow it to burn out naturally. Avoid using water as this can damage the stove. After the stove has cooled, remove ash and remaining debris.


What wood shall I use and how much?

Use seasoned, dry hardwoods for optimal heat output and efficiency. Avoid using green or wet wood, as this produces more smoke and creosote. The amount of wood needed depends on the size of your stove and the desired heat output. Start with a few logs and adjust as needed to maintain a comfortable temperature.

What is the best way to arrange the wood?

Arrange the kindling in a crisscross pattern over a firelighter or newspaper.

How hot does a wood burning stove get?

How hot your stove gets can vary depending on the size and model, as well as the type of wood used and the stove’s efficiency rating. However, with a multi-fuel stove with a heat output of 8kW, you can expect a maximum temperature of around 315°C (600°F).

Why is my wood burning stove not lighting?

There could be several reasons, such as wet or green wood, inadequate airflow,or a cold or obstructed flue. Ensure you're using dry, seasoned wood, providing proper ventilation and maintaining a clean chimney to improve the likelihood of successfully lighting your stove.

Can I leave my stove on fire all night?

It is generally not recommended to leave a wood burning stove unattended for extended periods, especially overnight. However, if you decide to do so, make sure to use larger, slower-burning logs, reduce the airflow by adjusting the vents and ensure you have a carbon monoxide detector in place for safety.

What can I do with the wood ash afterwards?

Wood ash has multiple uses, such as fertilising gardens, amending soil pH and even creating a natural de-icing agent for paths. Always let the ash cool completely before handling, and store it in a fireproof container.

How often should I clean my stove?

Regular maintenance is crucial for the efficient operation of a multi-fuel stove. We recommended that the flue pathways in the stove are cleaned on a monthly basis and the chimney cleaned annually.

If the stove is to be left unused for a prolonged period of time then it should be given a thorough clean to remove ash and unburned fuel residues.

Safety advice and things to avoid

  • Do not use wet or unseasoned wood, as it will produce more smoke and creosote. 
  • Keep flammable materials away from the stove. 
  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near the stove for added safety. 
  • Ensure the chimney is inspected and cleaned regularly. 
  • Never leave the room until the fire has taken and the stove door is firmly shut. 
  • In the presence of children or elderly or infirmed people, we recommend using a fireguard certified to BS 8432: 2010
  • The controls may become hot when the stove is in operation, so use gloves to adjust the controls when the stove is hot. 
  • Do not leave both air controls fully open as this can cause the stove to overheat, damaging the internal components.
  • Ashes should be placed in a metal or other noncombustible container with a tight fitting lid. 

And finally

We hope you found this guide on how to light a wood burning stove useful and you’re now set to light a wood fire in a multi-fuel stove both efficiently and safely, ensuring it operates at its maximum potential, using less fuel and producing less emissions, thus minimising costs and environmental impact. Happy heating!