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

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 1 April 2021