Operating a clean wood stoveOperating a wood stove properly takes practice and attention. Wood stove technology has not advanced enough to let someone simply throw in wood, light it, close the door and walk away. The term “clean” is relative because any gas, oil, or electric heater produces less direct pollution than a wood stove. There are, however, several ways to reduce pollution from wood stoves.
Cleaner, more efficient wood burning starts with reading your wood stove owner’s manual. If you don’t have or can’t find that manual, at least do these two things:
1) watch this video on proper wood stove operation:
2) go outside regularly to observe how much smoke is coming from your chimney. If you see anything other than a small amount of wispy smoke, you’re doing something wrong. A properly run wood stove should yield only heat waves out the chimney or stack.
Here are some additional tips for cleaner burning:
- Use only seasoned firewood. See the EPA video on selecting dry wood at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM2WGgRcnm0
- Visit Burn Wise at http://www.epa.gov/burnwise/bestburn.html to learn clean burning tips
- Build a top-down fire to reduce pollution during start-up. See http://woodheat.org/top-down-fever.html for more information.
- Give yourself enough time to properly heat the stove. The owner’s manual should provide guidance. For non-catalytic stoves it may take 45 minutes at full air volume to reach the clean burning, high efficiency temperature.
- Be aware of the weather, especially inversions or stagnations, and don’t burn during burn bans. Even if you own an EPA certified wood stove, smoking up your neighborhood is always illegal (and un-neighborly!) so aim for no visible emissions.
Using a wood stove is like using a car: proper operation and maintenance is essential for your safety and the safety of others. Be a responsible stove owner. The environment and your neighbors will be happier.