Getting the best from your stove or open fire is a mixture of art and science. Take time to get used to how your particular stove burns as well as the best fuel to use on it.
Our staff all have their own stoves and we’ve got the tough job of testing all our fuels. We’ve learnt a few tips and tricks over the years, so here are some top tips and bits of advice.
How to start your fire with briquettes
- Place two RUF type briquettes at the back, angled towards each other
- Add a couple of Hotmax in front and a Waxling firelight in the centre.
- Light the Waxling and place a small Hotmax on top.
- Once the Hotmax are burning well, gently place a longer burning briquette on top; e.g. Pini-kay, Nestro or another RUF.
These instructions are for an average size stove (5-7kw) or open fire. If your grate is too small for the suggested arrangement of briquettes, just use fewer as required, for example, use one RUF Oak instead of two. Hardwood Cobs can be replaced with Hotmax, which are an excellent alternative.
Once your fire is going, turn the air flow down a little and, after an hour or so, add half a briquette of your choice, such as a Beech Nestro, Pini-Kay or Blazers.
Don’t overload the fire. Briquettes are much drier than logs, so you need fewer of them to get a good heat. Start with a little bit and put more on as you see how they burn.
Don’t prod it! Briquettes shouldn’t be prodded with a poker. They lose their structure and will not burn for anywhere near as long as they would otherwise.
Lay briquettes across the fire, not pointing towards the door. This is because many briquettes expand as they burn.
Control the air flow. Too much or too little air can cause problems. To get the best burning time, experiment with the air flow on your stove. This is harder to control on an open fire, so whatever fuel you’re using, whether it’s logs, coal or briquettes, won’t burn as long in an open fire as it would on a stove.
Don’t use wood pellets on a stove or open fire. Pellets should only be used in specially designed biomass boilers.
How air flow works
The amount of air going through your stove is the key to how well it burns. Air provides a fire with oxygen, so it burns faster with more air, and slower with less. Learn how to use the vents on your stove to become a master of wood-burning! The best way to do this is to experiment with your own stove.
As a basic guide:
High air flow means :
- Your fuel may burn too fast
- It will burn hotter
- The stove glass will stay clearer
Reducing the air flow means:
- You get a longer burn time
- Better temperature control
- More soot build up on the glass
To keep the stove glass clear, ensure there’s air flowing all the time. Don’t close the vents completely, and periodically burn hot to clear build up. Many modern stoves designed for smokeless zones have an air-wash feature. This means there’s a constant flow of air across the glass, keeping the glass clear and reducing build up of soot. This makes it harder to control the burn-rate.
Storing your briquettes
Don’t store briquettes outside in a traditional log store. Keep them in a watertight shed or store as they will absorb any atmospheric moisture. A damp briquette is no good for burning!