With so many different things that need to come together when having a fire in a multi fuel stove, it can sometimes be difficult to keep a multi fuel stove burning without constant care and attention.
This can be especially true when starting a fire in a multi fuel stove, as anything less than optimum conditions can cause the fire to go out.
Multi fuel stoves help to increase the heat output when burning wood, coal and other solid fuels compared to traditional open fireplaces, but there are a few things that need to be considered when having a fire in a multi fuel stove to ensure that it keeps burning and doesn’t go out.
Therefore, to keep a multi fuel stove burning:
- Build and light the best fire possible to get the fire going well and provide a bed of hot coals.
- Warm up the flue if cold to get maximum draft on the stove.
- Ensure that the wood has low moisture content.
- Use hardwood over softwood for longer burning fires between loads.
- Regulate the airflow using the vents.
- Keep the stove topped up with fuel, without overloading the stove.
We have a multi fuel stove, and through practice we can now successfully start a fire every time, and keep the fire burning inside the stove for up to an hour before having to add more fuel to the fire.
I’ve explained in further detail below how to keep a multi fuel stove burning when lighting and burning for longer, using our own stove as an example.
This guide is catered more towards a multi fuel stove than a wood burning stove, but for more information about the two you can read the complete list of differences between our own multi fuel stove and wood burning stove here.
Build And Light The Fire Properly
Setting up a fire correctly in your multi fuel stove is essential to having a long and successful fire.
This includes getting the fire going quickly with newspaper and/or firelighters, and using dry kindling to set a bed of hot coals once it has burnt through. This allows larger pieces of wood to be added to the fire, which are able to catch alight much more easily when added to a bed of hot coals, rather than onto a new fire.
It’s therefore important to work your way up from smaller logs to the larger logs, as adding the bigger pieces of wood to a stove too early into a fire can prevent them from burning through.
If you’re having trouble keeping a multi fuel stove burning at an early stage of a fire, then it’s worth warming up the flue beforehand. We leave the door on our stove open for a while before using it, to get both the stove and the flue up to room temperature. A cold flue can prevent a fire from catching during its early stages.
To ensure that there is sufficient draft on your multi fuel stove, roll up a sheet of newspaper, light one end and stick it under the outlet to your flue inside your stove for a short while. This should help warm up the flue before starting a fire.
Use The Right Fuel
When burning wood in a multi fuel stove it’s always a good idea to ensure that the wood is dry enough to be used. The higher the moisture content of the wood, the more energy is required to burn off the excess moisture, and so wet wood is harder to catch alight and harder to burn as a result.
It’s recommended that wood with a moisture content of 20% or less is sufficient for use on a fire in a stove. Wood that is ‘well seasoned’ or ‘kiln dried’ is the terminology typically used to denote wood that is dry enough to be used.
We season our wood for at least two years before it’s used in our multi fuel stove. It’s left outside on a dry platform and under a covered roof. One side of the wood stack is left open for the wind to help dry it out.
You can also use a moisture meter to read the moisture content of your wood before burning it.
Dry wood is therefore important if you want to keep a multi fuel stove burning after starting a fire.
If you want to keep a multi fuel stove burning for longer, it’s better to use hardwood over softwood for the larger sized logs. Hardwoods are typically denser than softwoods, and so can burn for longer periods of time inside your stove before having to add further logs to the fire.
On the downside, hardwoods take longer to season than softwoods and so are generally more expensive to buy. Softwoods are still the best choice when building and lighting a fire however, as they catch alight more quickly and burn more easily than hardwoods and so help the fire to get going.
Oak is a very good hardwood to use if you’re looking to keep your multi fuel stove burning for longer.
Therefore, to keep a multi fuel stove burning:
- Use softwood kindling to help get the fire going.
- Use hardwoods logs over softwoods after starting the fire.
- Ensure that the wood is dry enough to burn well.
Control The Airflow
Another important aspect of keeping a multi fuel stove burning for longer is regulating the supply of oxygen to the fire so that the fuel doesn’t burn too quickly or too slowly.
A fire needs both fuel and oxygen to survive. Allowing more air through the vents on a stove can help increase the heat output from the fire, but at the expense of burning through the fuel more quickly.
When lighting a fire in a multi fuel stove, all of the controllable air vents should be fully opened prior to starting the fire. This helps get the kindling alight and the fire getting going quickly.
Once the fire has visibly caught hold of the fuel, the air vents can then be partially closed down to restrict the supply of oxygen to the fire and to prevent the fuel from burning too quickly.
The vents can then be used to control the fire for its entire duration. Opening the air vents increases the airflow and rate at which the fire burns through the fuel, therefore producing more heat. Closing down the air vents reduces the oxygen supply, and therefore decreasing how quickly the fuel burns and how much heat is put out into the room.
To keep a multi fuel stove burning after lighting, the air vents should be closed down enough so that the fuel burns slowly, without starving the fire of oxygen.
Closing the vents by too much, or fully closing them, can cause the fire to go out.
Leaving the vents partially open helps the stove to produce a good amount of heat for a consistent amount of time before further fuel needs to be added to the fire.
The type of fuel that is being burnt will dictate which vents need to be used to control the fire, and how much they need to be closed down by.
Wood burns best with a supply of air from above and so the secondary vent on a multi fuel stove is typically used to control the fire. Coal burns best with a supply of oxygen from below and so the primary vent is generally used to control the fire in this situation.
We typically only burn wood in our multi fuel stove and so we mostly close down the primary vent (located at near the bottom on the front of the stove) after the fire has got going.
The secondary air vent is then closed down, but not by as much as the primary vent. This helps to ensure that a wood fire burns slowly and efficiently, while also providing enough air through the vent for the air wash and secondary burn operations.
You can read more about air wash systems in multi fuel stoves and how they keep glass doors clean.
I’ve also explained secondary combustion in stoves here, which helps to produce even more heat from your stove.
Keep The Stove Topped Up
Once the fire has got going, if you want to keep a multi fuel stove burning then keeping it topped up with fuel helps to prolong the time between loads. This is especially important if you want to keep your multi fuel stove burning all night.
The logs should be large, and tightly packed together so that they burn for the maximum amount of time.
However, be sure that the amount of fuel in the stove at any one time doesn’t exceed the maximum allowable amount for your particular model of stove. Too much fuel can overload a multi fuel stove and cause it to over fire.
How To Control A Multi Fuel Stove (Using The Air Vents)
How To Build And Light A Fire In A Multi Fuel Stove
How Hot Does A Multi Fuel Stove Get?
Parts Of A Stove Explained
Primary, Secondary And Tertiary Air Explained