Wood Stove 101: How To Keep a Wood Stove Burning All Night

all night fire

Are your wood fires consistently burning out too quickly? Do you want to have an all night fire? When you heat with a wood burning stove, the wood stove’s controls are a big help to speed up and slow down the burn, but to get longer burns in your wood stove, you must control the shape and size of your wood loading. In this guide, we will learn how to keep a wood stove burning all night with extended fires: where large pieces of firewood are tightly packed to extend the burn and make a fire that lasts all night. This type of fire relies on a healthy coal bed, so it won’t work during a cold start. For help on how to build the perfect fire for a cold start, check out our how-to guide post Wood Stove 101: The perfect way to build a fire, top-down.

Why burn with an extended fire?

If you’re settling into bed or about to run off to work, you will want to burn an extended night fire. In an extended fire, you load large pieces of wood into your wood burning stove, tightly packed, so the fire slowly spreads from log to log, extending your burn for 6 to 8 hours or more. You won’t need to reload any time soon. This sort of burn maintains a low, steady heat that can stay burning all night.

Many wood stove users, when first learning how to keep a wood stove burning all night, will simply add large amounts of wood to their firebox, on top of a layer of coals, with the logs crossed over one another. This loading technique allows the fire to quickly spread and engulf all of your logs, leading to large hot fires. These large, hot fires produce a lot of heat right away, but when the stove is set on low they can’t get enough air and will smolder, producing lots of smoke. The secret to preventing this “worst of both worlds” type of fire is to build an extended fire, where the front layer of wood insulates the back layer, preventing the fire from spreading too quickly, and maintaining visible flames for hours.

How To Keep a Wood Stove Burning All Night

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1. Rake the charcoal towards the front of the wood stove      

If you want to learn how to keep a wood stove burning all night, you’ll need to learn about coal placement. Keeping the coals together in the front of the stove provides a strong heat source to ignite the logs. If you leave coals across the entire bottom of the stove, all of the wood will ignite at once,  and this will shorten the burn. Don’t have a coal bed yet? Read our how-to guide post on building a fire, Wood Stove 101: The perfect way to build a fire, top-down.

Extended fire burn all night

Remove ash from front of firebox. Rake the coals forward. Place firewood on and behind the coals. Image Credit: woodheat.org

2. Place five to seven large logs in a tight formation behind the coals

The pieces should be 4-6” across. Place each piece, one at a time, in an “East-West”  (parallel to the front) orientation behind the coals, and pressed to the back of the wood stove firebox. As you add more pieces, try to nest them with the earlier pieces as tightly as possible. When the last pieces go in, the front edge of the forward most piece should be just touching the glowing coals. Do not lay pieces crosswise over one another or place any pieces in a “North-South” (perpendicular to the front) orientation. When stacked this way, the fire can quickly spread to engulf all of the wood, leading to faster burns. There is no need to add newspaper or kindling, with a glowing coal bed and well-seasoned wood, the fire should start in only a few moments.

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3. Shut the door and enjoy

A few moments after you load the wood in your wood stove it will ignite. The fire will quickly spread over the front layer of wood, and slowly burn towards the back. This all night fire will burn in your wood stove for hours. Learning how to keep a wood stove burning all night is just that easy!

The extended burn is the most important configuration for people who rely on wood heat. The extended burn maximizes burn time and typically delivers the necessary heat most burners expect or need except in the most extreme weather. Learning to create an extended burn configuration will extend your enjoyment for long days and nights. Remember to use seasoned, non-resinous hardwood to get the maximum longevity and heat from your extended burn.

To learn more about how to keep a wood stove burning all night and other wood burning tips, sign up for our e-newsletter here, or visit our Wood Stove 101 blog today.

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