10 stove myths that need to stop

We debunk 10 famous stove myths.

Fire is a mythical thing. Dragons breathe it, phoenixes rise from its aftermath and no doubt you’ve heard the one about the bloke down the pub who can run barefoot across hot coals without spilling his pint.

However stoves aren’t a thing of myth but people still have theories about how best to operate them that are often wrong and sometimes downright dangerous. Here at Fireplace Products we have set out to address and correct at least 10 of these stove myths.

Stove Myth #10: All stoves should be able to burn overnight

The Facts: Many stoves won’t burn overnight, they simply don’t have the capability. This is a common misconception that can leave some people disappointed. For a fire to burn in your stove through the night and be resurrected in the morning requires several factors. It is best to choose a stove made from cast iron, runs on coal, has a large firebox and has superb air control. Here is how you control the air in your stove.

Alternatively, on more contemporary stoves, look for cladding. The heat from the fire warms the cladding which helps to maintain the firebox temperature whilst releasing the stored hear into the room. You may not come back to a glowing bed of embers but the firebox temperature will allow you to resurrect the fire easily.

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Stove Myth #9: Stoves burn their best when they glow orange

The Facts: Perusing social media often brings up a picture of some a pyromaniac next to their stove roaring away with patches of it glowing orange from the heat. This is known as ‘over firing’ the stove and will damage the stove no end. Not only will you have a weakened stove body, you’ll burn through all your fuel and probably void your warranty. If you find yourself accidentally over firing your stove then you should look at buying a stove with a larger kilowatt output.

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Stove Myth #8: It’ fine to burn normal coal on a stove

The Facts: You should only burn smokeless coal on a multi-fuel stove. Ordinary coal creates too much sulphur and erodes your brick work and invalidates your warranty. You should also make sure you burn household smokeless coal. It goes without saying that you should never burn coal on a wood burning stove.

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Stove Myth #7: Wood is wood, it doesn’t matter what you burn 

The Facts: Whilst on the subject of fuel, let us address the myth that wood is wood and you can burn any form of it in your stove. This is wrong – don’t think like this.

Different types of wood burn differently, with some putting out more heat than others, and some species actually being poisonous. Educate yourself on the best types of wood to burn here. However the one easy thing to know is that you should never burn treated wood or damp, unseasoned wood. Burning these is a one way ticket to Creosote City via Inefficient Burning. Treated wood can throw out deadly toxins into the surrounding air, which not only spells bad news for your neighbours, it gives the rest of us wood burners a bad name (and we don’t want to give the Daily Mail anything else to moan about!).

Burn only kiln dried wood or wood that has been seasoned and has a moisture content of less than 20%. This way you get more heat from your fuel and a cleaner burn.

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Don’t burn wood like this.

Stove Myth #6: You get more heat by opening the door of the stove

The Facts: A lot of people think that by opening the door of the stove, their room will somehow warm up quicker. This is incorrect for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you will receive an initial surge of heat from opening the door as the pressure balances out, but you will then find more heat is being pulled up the flue.

Secondly you’ll burn an ungodly amount of fuel due to the uncontrolled draught and risk smoke entering your room. The idea of a stove is to take advantage of the air controls, if you want to burn with the door open and no control of the draught, you’re best installing an open fire.

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Draughts… geddit?

Stove Myth #5: Stoves are banned from cities

The Facts: (Please note this information is applicable for the UK, I cannot speak for other countries’ cities.) Cities are subject to regulations designed to improve the air quality. With a higher number of vehicles on the roads and after the likes of the Great Smog of London in 1952 – which killed thousands of people as a result of coal smoke and fog trapped in the city – you can understand that smoke is not popular. Many UK cities are smoke-controlled areas, where you are not able to burn in anything other than a DEFRA approved stove. DEFRA stands for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and they have set a high standard for stoves to ensure a clean-burn. Stoves with low particle emission and very high efficiency are approved to burn in smoke-controlled areas.

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This is why we want clean burning stoves.

Stove Myth #4: Clean all ash out of your woodburning stove before starting a new fire

The Facts: Whilst the cleaners among you may hate the idea, it is best to keep a layer of ash when burning wood. This makes it easier for the fire to take hold as it insulates the fire and helps to get the firebox up to temperature quicker as it burns off any unburnt materials. Just don’t let it build up too much. Here’s some uses for woodash for any you have left over.

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You don’t want your stove to have a ‘brimful of asha’…

Stove Myth #3: Woodburners don’t work in a kitchen with an extractor fan

The Facts: If you have a stove in the kitchen, and you kitchen has an extractor fan, you’ll find that the air that is supposed to be going to the fire in the stove is being extracted out of the room by the fan. If your extractor fan is super-efficient you may find that smoke is being pulled out of your stove through the air vents. However to say that you can’t have a stove is a myth – there are ways to fix this.

Look for a room-sealed stove, which means the stove  receives air externally and not from the room, meaning you’ll never have to worry about where the flow of air is going. 

Alternatively, technology now exists that allows you to monitor the pressure in both the flue and the extractor fan. If pressure drops in the flue your extractor fan will slow. If you require one of these, get in touch with us.

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Stove Myth #2: Stoves are expensive to run

The Facts: This is subjective to the type of fuel you burn, but typically, you can get a huge amount of energy from your fuel – up to 90%. What’s more, you can buy a huge amount of wood at a very reasonable price, and this will last you a long time – perhaps even the whole heating season. Sometimes there is no point in warming your whole house if you’re only using one room, and what’s better than enjoying the warming glow of the fire knowing you’re saving money?

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Stove Myth #1: Stoves are bad for the environment

The Facts: We often read through reams of forums and article comments filled with people claiming stoves are bad for the environment. We agree, this may have been the case many years ago, but the industry has really cleaned up its act. Stoves burn off up to 90% of the fuel, meaning this high efficiency leaves very little to go up the chimney. Also, burning wood is carbon neutral as it only releases the same amount of carbon dioxide as it took in. Responsible owners source their wood close to home from sustainable sources, reducing the amount of miles your wood has to travel.

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The Burley Carlby is 89.1% efficient

Got any stove myths you want to debunk? Want to argue a point? Let us know in the comments below!

6 thoughts on “10 stove myths that need to stop

  1. Hello

    I read this article a while ago. I note T.H. what it’s saying particularly seems to relate to open fires, in terms of users, but the information in the article also covers the smoke which is emitted into the atmosphere – and then back into the user’s and their neighbours’ homes.

    I confess that, as much as I’m attracted to the idea of a stove, this article has put me off.

    I wondered, when I read your myth list, what your views are?

    1. Hi Denise, thank you for sharing this post with us, its a very well laid out rationale that we do not disagree with entirely. I know from test results that wood burning stoves that are produced today inline with new European regs coming in 2022 burn much cleaner than stoves of only 10 years ago, and are considerably cleaner burning than open fires. We are working on a post at the moment outlining the advantages of replacing open fires and older wood stoves to a modern one with the latest clean burning technology. So it would be interesting to know if Sam is referring to the smoke produced from open fires or new wood burners. Regulations are different the world over and I believe that the new regulations coming into force will be a step in the right direction, the stove industry as a whole is moving towards cleaner burning appliances all of the time, and these new regs are a step in the right direction. If you are looking to purchase a new woodburner then look to see if it complies with the new ECO-DESIGN 2022 regulations, also referred to as SIA 2022. Thanks again for sharing Denise

  2. Great article! However, as part of a team of Chimney Sweeps I would like to add the most common myth that we hear…that a stove flue doesn’t need to be swept.
    We hear customers reporting that they don’t need a sweep now as they have had a stove installed. Mostly we understand that this customer has probably had the stove installed by a builder (or the diy householder) who has had no training and/ or not been provided with the necessary background information or maintenance guidelines.

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