It’s important to light and maintain wood heater fires the right way. This helps reduce smoke emissions, which improves air quality.

How to use your wood heater the right way

Video transcript

Smoke from wood heaters and fireplaces can pollute the air and be harmful to our health and the health of our neighbours.

Buying, operating  and maintaining the right wood heater can reduce can reduce smoke pollution.

When buying a wood heater make sure that it meets Australian standards and is fitted by a licensed installer.

Before winter every year make sure your heater's flue and baffle plate are clean. This will prevent unnecessary smoke, flu fires and ensure the heater works in the right way.

Ensure that the wood you're burning is dry and seasoned.

When setting your fire leave about two centimetres of ash at the base to help with lighting the fire.

To start your fire the right way use plenty of paper and dry kindling, instead of large pieces of wood that produce a lot of smoke during the initial stages of burning.

Place small pieces of wood above the kindling. Place more paper on top of the wood.

This creates an updraft that helps the fire get started. Keep the heated door slightly open for a short period to increase the airflow. Don't leave a fire unattended while the door is open.

Once the fire is burning well close the heater door then fully open the air supply vent. This will make sure the fire burns quickly.

After 10 to 15 minutes add some mid-size logs. Don't pack the heater too full to make sure that air can circulate and your wood burns properly.
If your heater has a fan turn it on now and keep the air vent open.

After another 10 to 15 minutes you can add bigger logs. Once your big logs are in, fully open your heater's vent for 20 minutes this will make sure your fire burns well. To reduce smoke don't close the airflow completely, set your vent high enough to keep the fire burning brightly and never let your wood heater smoulder, especially overnight. Let it burn down instead. This produces less smoke and air pollution.

For more information about smoke and air quality visit our website.

Always use the right wood in your wood heater and make sure your flue is clean. To start your fire the right way, make sure you: 

  • leave about two centimetres of ash at the base of your wood heater. This helps when lighting your fire
  • don't put a large log at the front. It blocks air from getting to the bottom of your fire
  • use plenty of paper and small, dry kindling under the logs so the fire lights quickly. This also produces less smoke
  • place small wood above kindling to provide good circulation
  • put another sheet of paper above your dry kindling and small wood to help the fire light
  • light at base to keep flames lively and bright. Fires should never be dull or smoky

Once your fire is burning:

  • add some mid-size logs, but don't pack the heater too full. This allows air to circulate so wood burns properly
  • fully open air controls for the first 20 minutes until fire is burning well
  • to reduce smoke, set air controls high enough to keep the fire burning brightly. Set air flow to high for 20 minutes each time you add wood
  • only reduce the air flow when there’s a hot bed of charcoal
  • never close the air flow completely. It produces little heat and lots of smoke
  • never let your wood heater smoulder, especially overnight. Let it burn down instead. This produces less smoke and air pollution. 

Make sure you maintain your wood heater well.

Read more about Wood smoke aware, neighbour care 

About wood smoke and air quality

About wood smoke pollution

Reducing wood smoke pollution

Report smoke

Smoke and the law 

Reviewed 2 June 2021