Money can be saved when heating with firewood or pellets, but there is maintenance to keep your your stove and chimney efficient, safe and clean. This guide is about heating with wood.
Use the heat from your wood-burning fireplace insert to do so much more than heat the house! The top of my insert forms a 12 x 30 inch shelf. We keep a big pot full of water and a full tea kettle on it at all times. Put a metal trivet under them and the water stays piping hot. Remove the trivet ahead of time if you know you'll need boiling water for pasta, or just transfer the hot water into a pot on the stove for a huge head start.
Make tea any time without turning on the stove. Use the hot water for dishwashing, handwashing or even taking a sponge bath to reduce water use. All of these uses eliminate the need to run gallons of cold water down the drain waiting for hot water to reach your tap from the water heater. Reheat soup. Heat canned foods in a pot (don't heat them in the cans, even if you've pierced the rim to let steam escape they will bubble over and make a mess!). "Flame dispersers" used for propane cooking achieve a simmer. "Roast" vegetables in a covered casserole dish or dutch oven. It takes longer than an oven (2-3 hours), but uses no extra gas or electricity. Experiment, have fun!
Source: "Original" idea (if any such thing exists!)
By Denise-Christine from Eugene, OR
If this winter, you are going to be using a wood burning stove or a free standing fireplace to heat all or part of your home, try this tip.
Place a box fan or small fan behind your wood burning stove or beside your fireplace to circulate all that warm air. You might be surpised at how much more square footage you can keep toasty warm.
By Debra in Colorado
I need a wood stove recommendation. It's time for our old Avalon wood stove to go. I've read the manufacturer web sites for Avalon, Vermont Castings, Lopi, BlazeKing, Country, and of course they make their brand sound like the best on the market. My house is all on one level, about 2000 square feet, and a wood stove is my sole source of heat. I want it to have a long enough burn time that I can load it at night and still have embers in the morning to get it going again. What brand/model wood heating stove do you have and would you recommend it for what I need?
Jackie from Rochester, WA
We have a top loading Jotul. It is, I believe, Swedish or Norwegian. We have had it close to 11 years. The only thing we have had to replace was gaskets. Top loading is nice because you load it with wood from the top. All of the ashes stay at the bottom. It seems like a safer way to load as well. We only use it at 1/3 - 1/2 it's capability because we are not home enough to "feed the beast" and it heats about 75% of our heating needs in a 1600 sq ft house and is located in the basement. Good luck.
We have a European stove brand called Weso, and it burns all night and heats our whole house, about 1800 sq. ft. In the morning, we just stir up the embers and throw in another log or two. They are made in Germany and widely used in Europe.
The WESO model 125 wood/coal burning stove is the best on market for heating a mid size house. I have been using one for over 35 years with no problems. It cost more but in the long run you get what you pay for. My house is 1600 square feet. Jim
I have a Vermont Casting and would NOT recommend buying one. They have a cast iron hood that covers the converter and it gets bent out of shape just burning the stove. I have talked to others and they have the same problem. I have narrowed my search down to two, Blaze King and Energy king. I hop this helps.
Can or has anyone burned wood pellets in a hi-efficiency wood fireplace. Are they OK to use in a fireplace, metal, 0 clearance, Napoleon nz-26 unit?
By jto from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
A fireplace will suck a lot of the "heated" air out, and up the chimney. Our last house had two fireplaces. In the family room we installed a wood burning stove into the fireplace, which was very effective in heating a two storied area. Pellet stoves burn special pellets made just for the stove. If there is a store which sells stoves it would be a good place to start. Anytime fire is involved in heating one needs to be extra careful. The stove we have in our latest home burns just wood. We have a catalytic converter which makes the wood burn clean. If we put anything else in the stove to burn it would ruin this feature. Be safe and do the homework.
Non-pellet ie Wood Burning air tight stoves.
Yes, and it works quite well. I'm burning multi fuel (wood + pellets). Using square unistrut, I created three parallel andirons to lay across the bottom of the wood stove. One bolt of wood (quarter or half round) goes against the back of the stove against the fire brick.
I make a open ended basket out of expanded mesh (16" long, 10" deep folded up 4 rows in back, three rows in front) with a liner of 1/4" mesh hardware cloth.
Wood splints crosslaid between the andirons with a couple of pitch sticks are the fire starter, set the flat bottom of the basket across the andirons with the back 1-1 1/2" away from the bolt, grab your butane torch and fire off the splints.
As with all wood burning appliances, experiment to make sure you don't over fire (put a stack thermostat on the side of the stove to monitor). Use your handy gardening scoop trowel to refill the basket, the log in the back easily ignites the next batch of pellets. What falls through burns to ash.
Has anyone tried burning wood pellets in a regular wood burning stove or fireplace? My parents have a wood stove and it is getting hard for them to have to haul firewood in from the yard everyday (heavy, messy, etc.). They can't afford to get a new pellet stove, but I don't see why pellets would not work in the stove they have. It would be much easier to just scoop them out of a bag.
If anyone has experience with this (good or bad) let me know. I may just buy some and give it a try, but I would like some advice.
We have a pellet stove. It is the best investment we've made. It has an auger in it
so the pellets drop one by one into the grill bellow.
The pellets are the size of a pencil eraser.
They are designed to burn slowly, we use 1/2 a bag a day in -30 weather.
You could burn them in a regular stove, but I think because of the size of the pellets it would burn very fast and you would just be wasting your money.
A pellet stove may seem expensive, but compared to the price of natural gas it will soon pay for itself. (09/08/2005)
Like you, I don't know about pellets, but Presto-logs are very similar and I know they work well in wood stoves. My aunt and uncle, when they got older, bought a pallet load of Presto-logs instead of using firewood. (09/08/2005)
It won't work, I'm afraid. Pellet stoves are designed with forced air supplying oxygen into the combustion chamber and an auger feed supplying fuel in just the right volume to get complete combustion of the fuel. If you simply "dumped" a bucket of pellets into a wood stove, you might get the surface to burn, but the resulting ash would insulate the center and starve it for oxygen, and it would simply char. It would be possible to burn them if a fine-mesh grate was put into the stove, and pellets were added just to cover the grate. This would call for frequent feeding, and a lot of back-bending! I'm a retired chimney sweep, and I've seen it tried.
At the price of fossil fuels today, pellet stoves make a lot of sense. But, for the elderly, there is still the lifting of bags and buckets of fuel, and routine shutting down and cleaning the combustion chamber. Consider these in making a decision.
I purchased a CD about pellet stove patents on eBay. It describes a metal burn pot that
could be used in a regular wood stove. I have
no experience in it's use or how well it performs.
Just look under pellet stove on eBay. (09/27/2005)
I have a Finnish fireplace which burns small wood less than 3" diameter, but burns extremely hot. I have tried everything in it except plastic and it all works great. One year I tried pellets. They also worked great except for one thing: I put in a fireplace shovelful, closed the fireplace doors, sat down, immediately got up and put another shovelful in. They burn so quickly it was a full time job just feeding the fire. However, they burn hot and have almost no ash. (02/10/2006)
I have been doing it for 2 years in combination with the dead wood I cut. It's efficient, easy, makes a fire last longer, burns great, and smells great. I have no problems with it in my standard wood stove. (04/06/2007)
By Page H
There is a pellet basket sold online, to use in wood burning stoves. It works, but to no big advantage over wood. (12/08/2007)
I designed a special grate for my woodstove (HomeWarmer- similar in shape to a Jotul woodstove) which can burn pellets. It's basically a long wide trough made of steel plate with a small grate at the bottom feeding air, and additional air blown over the fire. Pellets burn from front to back when you start a small fire in front. I get about a 1 hour burn from a load of pellets (about 1/4 bag). It's OK for quick heat when it's not cold enough for a full log fire, but maintaining a continuous fire is difficult. Better to use Bio Bricks or Presto logs. (02/15/2008)
By Joe M.
Your idea of burning wood pellets in a wood stove or fireplace will work, all you have to do is buy a pellet basket for $125.00 off of burnwoodpellets.com. I did and it works great! (03/20/2008)
By Quinn Smith
I have been using pellets in an older (TrailBlazer) wood stove. With a little effort, it does work!
Here's what I do.
Use a small amount of kindling wood (hand full).
Add a piece of StartedLog 1x1"
add pellets, two, 3lb. coffee containers on each side of kindling, and one in the center. Leave flue open 15 minutes. Close flue 3/4. This will keep me warm overnight, I add a piece or two of wood if I need to in the morning. Left in that state without adding pellets or wood will result in complete burn of pellets. Great for, between 20 to 40 degree weather! This result is, without a grate or basket. Try it, it works!
By Larry B
Yes, you can now burn pellets in a normal wood stove. Check out the the link below www.bradleyburner.com This really works. (11/08/2008)
Two of my woodstoves are cylindrical. Here's how I have set them up to burn pellets (quick, less mess and they still burn wood when I want). Take a cylindrical charcoal starter available almost anywhere, place a piece of wire mesh screen (large enough for good airflow, not so large that the pellets fall through), cut a round piece to fit bottom of larger portion. Cut mesh screen to fit inside the taller tube portion, again, a bit smaller to allow for good air flow). Crumple a small piece of chicken wire and drop in the cylindrical cavity (keeps pellets from packing down). Fill with pellets and light through the bottom as though starting a charcoal fire (crumpled newspaper in bottom). Give it a little time to get going and enjoy the warmth! I refill through the top openings on my potbelly stove with a large funnel (mine is plastic with the funnel opening cut off and enlarged for quick, easy refill. (11/13/2008)
We purchased another stainless steel wood pellet basket from eBay for less then $95 to use in our wood stove this winter. It was more convenient for us to use wood pellets to feed the wood stove and fireplace, instead of gathering cord wood when the weather became extremely cold outside.
We found that wood pellets produced much less smoke and burn almost as hot. We own three pellet baskets and favor the 304 stainless steel perforated basket design, the ones manufactured with the smaller holes. The lager slots or large perforated baskets left a lot of the mess while loading and refilling with pellets, due to the larger openings allowing much too much pellets to fall out.
The pellet basket was a life saver when our community was hit with a storm last winter season which knocked out the electricity for a few days, since we do not have natural gas supply. We keep two pellets baskets on-hand to keep the house warm, using one for the wood stove and another for the fireplace.
We prefer to use renewal energy sources such as solar and wood pellets, because we are definitely not in favor of making oil producing countries rich. Helping to keep our American jobs home!
Firewood, if you have to buy it in small quantities, is getting more expensive. I use wood pellets as a 40# bag has a lot of energy in a compact space and actually is cheaper and burns cleaner than 40#s of regular wood. I have a regular fire place. I do have access to scrap wood like old damaged unrebuildable wood pallets, lumber scraps, old fence posts, etc. I chop it up small and burn this in combination with wood pellets.
One way I find that works is to fill up the center cardboard roll or toilet paper or paper towels and tape the ends. I feed these small homemade pellet logs in the fire from time to time and they burn much slower and hotter than the scrap wood.
Obviously being retired I have plenty of time to do this so it will not be handy for those that are much busier than me. I enjoy scrounging for the scraps and filling the tubes. These small tubes work great for camp fires, outdoor fireplaces, and patio fireplaces plus act as kindling for large chunks of wood.
For bigger fires I fill up tiny to small to medium cardboard boxes with pellets. I box the tubes and small cartons for storage up in recycled small cardboard boxes. You can store a lot of pellets this way in a very small space, even in an apartment and do not have to worry about dirty wood and bugs.
Of course follow all the safety rules of any open flame fire and do not burn chemically treated woods. (01/18/2009)
It works great. I mean just get a old car rim and pellets that's what I use it works great AAA+++. (02/20/2009)
By Giovanni V.
We have never used pellets as we are still on a "thrifty" budget and pellets aren't cheap either. Just wondering if your parents have considered what "Sunbrite" said in the posting about wood pallets? They are usually all over the place as stores receive deliveries on them, then don't know what to do with them afterward. They burn great! They make a nice warm fire. I check the "FREE" category on Craig's list and find people offering them, and just picked up a truck load this afternoon.
Only thing, we usually cut the ends off that have the nails in them and break them up. We were not sure if nails in the wood stove were a good idea? Any comments on this? Anybody else just burn pallets "as is", nails and all?
Keep warm :o)
Pallets do have value for recycling. But the price fluctuates greatly and sometimes they are not worth the the trouble and cost of saving them to be reused. The wood is lower quality, generally still wet as they are not kiln dried, but are still hardwoods that burn well.
The nails (and any other metal parts attached) used in them are often twist or one way and are not intended to be pulled out and have to be left in to burn. Also any metal embedded in wood is deadly if hit with a chainsaw.
Some state and federal campgrounds do not allow wood with metal attached of any kind to be used in their fire pits or stoves. This is to protect the maintenance, staff, volunteers, and campers from injuring themselves cleaning or using the fire pit or stove. The homeowner is subject to the same safety issues.
You can still burn them as long there is a grate for them to fall through to the bottom and care is taken in handling them when cleaning out the ashes. Some folks even collect them and recycle the nails for other projects.
But be careful and do not just discard the ashes with the metal in them in the trash or elsewhere because someone can get hurt. Ever step on hidden a nail? It is just common sense. You play with fire you get burned, you play with red hot nails, well. Nothing wrong with lighting a candle when the power goes out, but don't burn your house down doing it. Many a Red Cross responder has walked through burned out homes caused by open flame fires and candles. Don't mean to lecture just want everyone to be safe. (02/28/2009)
You had better burn the wood pellets in pellet stoves. (03/24/2010)
We burn wood pellets in our multi fuel stove with the Cosy air pellet grate we bought from PLQ Pellets. The pellets burn great and are very economical. We use half a bag per day. Check out their website www.plqpellets.co.uk (04/11/2010)