How to use your wood heater the right way
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.
What you can burn in a wood heater
You can only burn plant matter, such as wood or leaves, in a heater. You must not burn household waste.
You must not burn wood or timber from building materials or furniture. This type of wood may contain chemicals.
Always use the right wood in your wood heater and make sure your flue is clean.
Starting your fire
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
- 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
- use more efficient wood such as smaller logs and very dry wood
- don't put a large log at the front. It blocks air from getting to the bottom of your fire
- don’t pack the heater too full
- use pellet fuel heaters.
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. Also do this each time you add wood. This keeps the fire burning brightly and reduces smoke.
- 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.
Find out more about choosing and maintaining a wood heater
Reviewed 25 May 2023