When Should I Reload my Wood Stove?

This question actually comes up quite a bit in the wood burner community, and not just for newbies.

I mean seriously, there must be some “science” behind the act of loading a stove up with more wood during its use.

Personally I load the stove with more wood only when I start to feel the inside temps dropping to an uncomfortable level, that is, it’s getting cold.

I don’t see any point in constantly adding pieces of wood every hour or so, just to maintain the flame or whatever.

As a matter of fact, wood stoves perform much better in cycles than being constantly fed with wood.

By cycles I mean loading one with as much wood as the stove can safely hold at once, and letting it burn through right up until the coals.

Feeding the stove with wood when a roaring fire is already taking place inside the firebox introduces the risk of overfiring the thing; you will also find yourself having to deal with more embers than you expect! This happens because the load was not allowed to burn fully.

So to put it in an example, if a day gets that cold, it’s better to have two, or even three solid full loads and fires, instead of letting the stove go as it is throughout the day and chucking firewood whenever you feel like it.

Follow the temps

If you’re more of a numbers kind of person, going by the stove’s temperature is another great way to be sure you reload the thing only when needed.

This method actually works better than my preferred route, because you won’t let the stove die down to low temperatures, meaning you’ll be able to get another load going without any kindling! Just place in the wood and off she goes…

For this to work you’ll obviously need some kind of thermometer. If you already got one of those infrared laser thermometers, you’re good to go. If not, you could go ahead and get one, but I think it’s better to stick to stuff that’s made for this exact reason, and that is a stove top thermometer.

It makes it that easy to know at which temperature range the wood stove is performing at the current moment, as one also has safe and optimal burn ranges displayed in color.

So, at which temperature should I reload?

I’ve heard of people having success at 300 degrees Fahrenheit (149 C), or a tad less.

The thing is, if you try to load the stove up with a new batch of firewood at too low of a temperature, it will have a hard time catching on fire as it is, without kindling.

Reload the stove when the temps are bigger, and you have a fire that is hard to control, potentially cooking you out of the house!

So this is more of a personal thing that will depend on the size of your room, house and the stove itself. Starting at 300 degrees should be a good reference point.

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