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Top Burn Down Method for Stoves
Also known as an 'Upside Down Fire' is a great alternative method of starting your fire and promoted by most Chimney Sweeps. Often it can also solve the issue of smoking back / spillage and is great for both your stove flue and the environment.
What does it do? Why is it better?
To get your stove up to it's optimum burning range we need to get a decent up-draught. To do this we need to first warm the flue, so let’s talk physics.....
Believe it or not, wood burns from the top downwards. When the fuel (logs & kindling) are subjected to heat, they start to pyrolise (gas off). When this unburnt gas (smoke) finds an ignition source, it gives you a flaming combustion.
So, by having your smaller fuel at the top of the stove chamber, we produce next to no smoke and get the flue nice and warm. By warming the flue this way, we are able to assist in getting a good draught up the chimney.
If we were to do it the traditional way around, we would be passing lots of 'cold' smoke, through all the larger wood. This takes time to warm the flue and produces lots of nasty smoke.
How it works
With the flaming combustion at the top of the chamber, this warms the flue, without producing any smoke. As the wood burns down (we now know this is how wood burns), the next stage of the fire ignites and gasses off. But as soon as this occurs, the smoke ignites....because it cannot pass though all the heat and flames without doing so. This amount of heat and combustion, going on inside a closed chamber, eventually catches the larger fuel at the bottom.
How do I make an upside down fire?
The following pictures describe how to build your fire, ready for a 'Top Burn Down' and what’s going on when you light it.
Top Tips when using this method...GET IT NICE AND HOT...QUICKLY!!
1) After the initial start up, the optimum time to add your next set of logs, is once the logs at the bottom are well alight and there is still plenty of heat energy, from the flaming kindling. Don't allow the kindling to decay too far, before reloading.
2) Ensure both your 1st and 2nd set of ‘starter’ logs are well alight AND your stove is up to at least 450 degrees, BEFORE you close down the primary air supply vent. By shutting the vent down too soon, you could stifle the heating process and it may lose its energy & momentum. Purchasing a Stovepipe Thermometer will visually assist in helping you ensure you know you've reached the optimum temperature. I sell these, so please ask during my visit.
2) Don’t scrimp on the kindling when building the fire, this is the starter motor for your main engine and we want to get it lovely and hot, to catch the larger fuel and get the stove up to its optimum burning range nice and quick.
Remember, by using this method, you are also reducing nasty carbon emissions polluting the atmosphere...so you’re also doing your bit for the environment.
If you have any issues with this, or need more guidance, drop me a message, on my Contact page and I’d be happy to resolve them for you