How to light a woodburning stove

Our advice – please try the ‘Swiss Method’ shown below to light a woodburning stove, it works well and overcomes most fire lighting questions.

20140510_120155It may seem counter-intuitive to light a fire from the top, but this method is specific to stoves with controllable air feeds.


  • Your stove and chimney stay clean and generate the least possible emissions
  • Cleanest start with minimum smoke and soot, so glass stays clean all day
  • Overcomes the need to refuel early when flames are high and the fire is smoky, thus preventing any smoke in the room
  • Light fire, close door and leave for one hour. No fuss or frequent refuels during start-up.
  • No need for mountains of scrunched newspaper, this method is started using one or two clean firelighters, nothing else. Paper the biggest source of non-combustible ash.
  • Make best use of your well seasoned firewood. Preheated by fire above and ignited by hot embers, you quality fuel will catch quickly and burn super efficiently. If your firewood is under-seasoned try our Kiln Dried logs, available in shop.

Forget the teepee and Wigwam methods, the origami newspaper method, the classic boy Scout method. Stack up some logs and kindling, then light it at the top and leave it to burn for a rewarding and hassle free fire.

Video guide and demonstration:

Method & Theory:

  • Step 1 – Adjust all the air controls to their Open position. Build your ‘top-down’ fire as shown using well seasoned firewood, dried to less than 20% moisture.
    Top layers – 2 or three Criss-crossed layers of kindling forming a open tower
    Middle layer – Smaller logs that will catch and ignite fast
    Bottom layer – Larger logs that will burn and form embers, at 90 degrees to middle layer
  • Step 2 – Light the top layer using a fire-lighter. The top layer contains just kindling, so burns fast and hot. As a result you heat the stove interior and flue system at the earliest opportunity.
  • Step 3 – Leave the door ajar long enough for the glass to heat (usually two minutes). Moisture from the combustion is attracted to the coldest part of the stove as condensation, this is always the glass. Once glass is hot, close the door.
  • Step 4 – Leave the air controls open so the fire predominantly heats the stove and flue rather than the room. A heated flue draws better than a cold flue, pulling in more oxygen to feed the fire. The stove interior needs to reach the ignition temperature of wood, so heating it using a vigorous fire aids complete combustion rather than smoke production.
  • Step 5 – The kindling fire not only preheats the stove and flue, but also the small logs beneath. They reach the optimum temperature for combustion so ignite cleanly with minimum smoke. Falling embers aid the ignition and help establish a strong fire. Any smoke that is generated burns in the vigorous kindling fire above.
  • Step 6 – If your stove burns fast you may want to reduce the primary (under fire bed) air control at this stage. Keep the fire fast and vigorous until a bed of glowing embers forms. Depending on your stove size this may take 45-60 minutes.
  • Step 7 – Refuel the stove, placing more logs directly onto the hot bed of embers. You will learn from experience how many logs are required to sustain a fire powerful enough to heat your room. It is better to add less and refuel more often than to add too much and then suffocate the fire by closing all the air controls.


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