I've learned a lot (and am still learning) about my wood cookstove. I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks we've picked up that make using a woodstove easier.
You keep your oven and range clean, so why would a cookstove be any different? I wipe down the outside of my stove daily with just a wet rag. Not only does this make it look cleaner, but it's helps cut down on dust. This is the 4th season we've used our stove and it still looks brand new.
Keeping Dust Under Control
I had been warned about the dust a wood stove creates, and while it wasn't as bad as I was expecting, it was still frustrating. I found myself dusting about three times a week.
I finally invested in an air purifier and it has been WONDERFUL! Not only does it help cut down on dust, but it prevents the wood stove, smoke smell that inevitably permeates through the house getting into clothing and furniture. I highly recommend one of these placed in the same room as your stove.
Since we burn Pine, which is a messy wood, Nathan cleans the chimney every month during burning season. I saw this in the store and decided to give it a try. If you put some in a hot fire every 3 or 4 fires, it helps slow creosote build up in the chimney. Nathan has noticed a big difference since we've started using it. We still clean monthly, but should something happen and we miss a month it's not a safety hazard.
Starting the Fire and Keeping It Going
I require a full night of beauty sleep, and having to get up a couple times to put more wood in the stove really throws a wrench in that. This year I asked Nathan to leave some logs un-split to use as overnight logs. They burn slower and don't put off a lot of heat, but if you've had the stove burning hot throughout the day, it maintains the heats. It's much better than having to get up at 3am or waking up to a cold house.
Starting a fire can be just as frustrating as keeping one going overnight. I've tried newspaper, pinecones, homemade fire starters, and cardboard. We were looking for something that burned we and long enough to get a log going while being sustainable. Paper and cardboard really aren't sustainable as we can't find or produce it on our property. We have an unlimited amount of pinecones, but they are a pain to collect and you need a lot of them. While splitting wood, Nathan noticed that the ground was covered in wood chips. Mix that with some dried pine needles and pine cones and you have an awesome fire starter that works everytime. Combine that with some kindling and starting a fire takes five minutes.
I love my wood cookstove and these simple tips help me to be able to enjoy the fire without worrying about all the work.