Why Your New Wood Burning Stove Smells (Ours Did)

In Indoor Fireplaces, Wood Burning Stoves by James O'KellyLeave a Comment

It can be normal to experience unusual smells when using your new wood burning stove the first couple of times.

New wood burning stoves will typically go through a period where its required to break the appliance in, and each of our wood stoves in the family have smelt when being used for the first time.

So why does a new wood burning stove smell?

Each new wood burning stove appliance requires a ‘break-in’ period where the paint on the stove needs to be cured. During this break-in period it can be common to smell the fumes released from the process of the paint curing.

Two of our wood burning stoves went through the same process when they were new, and I’ve explained in more detail below, using our wood stoves as examples, why a wood stove need a break-in period, and how long the process generally takes.

Why Does My New Wood Burning Stove Smell?

It’s typical to see a new wood stove appliance emit a chemical smell during its first few uses.

Stoves are coated with a heat resistant paint, but need the heat of a fire to complete the process for it to chemically bind to the surface of the stove.

A purchaser of a wood burning stove wouldn’t want to buy a stove that has already been used, and so manufacturers require users of new wood stoves to allow for a period of time for this curing process to occur.

The process for breaking-in a new wood burning stove, including the number of fires required, will differ between each brand of stove. Our two wood burning stoves took one and three uses respectively before the paint was fully cured and the new stove smell disappeared during a fire

Breaking-in a wood burning stove may also be known as ‘seasoning’. This is particularly the case for cast iron stoves which need to be seasoned so that they don’t expand too quickly as a result of the heat. A cast iron stove may also need to be seasoned after a prolonged period of no use, such as through the summer months.

If your wood burning stove smells like burning metal then it may be that you’re over firing your stove, more info of which can be found here.

How Long Does A New Wood Stove Smell?

A new wood burning stove will typically take 1-3 uses before the stove is fully broken in, and when the paint has cured and the new stove smell disappears.

Your manufacturer will state in the instruction manual how to properly break in your particular model of wood stove, along with how many fires it will take to complete the process.

In the last couple of years my parents have both installed new wood burning stoves in their existing living room fireplaces. Details of the break in procedures they had to follow for their wood stoves are outlined below.

New Wood Stove Smell Example 1

Here’s one of our wood stoves:

Wood Burning Stove

We smelt the curing odor when using this stove for the first few fires.

The manufacturer of this stove explains in the instruction manual:

‘During the first operation it is highly likely that fumes and smell maybe produced as part of the normal heat resistant paint curing process.

When being heated is for the first time, smells and fumes are often produced. This is a normal chemical process that allows the specialist heat resistant paint to cure and harden.’

Hunter Stoves

The manufacturer also recommends that plenty of ventilation is provided to the room during this period, by opening doors and windows if necessary, and that any animals or persons more at risk from the fumes to not be within the vicinity of the stove.

During our first fire we had to get the stove up to operational temperature and ensure it stayed at this temperature for at least an hour, in line with the break-in instructions for this model of wood stove.

For this stove we didn’t notice any strong new stove smells during the second use, and any paint curing smells were completely gone by the third use.

New Wood Stove Smell Example 2

Here’s what the other wood burning stove in our family looks like:

Wood Burning Stove

This wood stove also went through the curing process, although it took a few more fires than our other stove to fully cure the stove in line with the manufacturer’s recommendations:

‘We recommend that you have two or three small fires before you operate your stove at maximum heat output; this is to steadily bake the silicone paint finish. Baking the paint is completed when most surfaces have reached about 220C / 475F.

During this burn-off period you will notice an unpleasant smell.’

Clearview Stoves

As such, for this particular model of wood burning stove, we had to keep the fire we built maintained to a minimum while the paint curing process occurred over three fires in three consecutive days. We had to wait for the stove to fully cool down to room temperature between the fires.

There was no new appliance smell by the fourth fire, and we could use the wood stove to its potential by building a bigger fire.

We kept an eye on the temperatures in this stove over the first few fires using the optional thermometer that we purchased with the stove. This helped us to ensure that we were building the recommended small fires, but also hitting at least 220C to ensure that the paint was curing on all surfaces.

Wood Stove Thermometer
The thermometer that helped us keep an eye on stove temperatures during the break-in period

Why Your New Wood Burning Stove Smells

It can be normal to find that your new wood burning stove has a strange smell during its first uses.

It may take anywhere from one to three fires before the paint has fully cured and the new appliance smell has disappeared. Allow the stove to fully cool down to room temperatures between fires in the break-in period.

Be sure to follow your stove manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended way to use your particular model of stove the first couple of times.

If you’re finding that your wood burning stove still smells after a number of fires, or is producing another unusual smell at any point during its life, then it’s worth reading another one of my articles which outlines the complete list of reasons why your wood burning stove smells.]

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