Cinders et al

I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time babying the wood burner. I quite enjoy the peasanty rolled up sleeves feeling I get when I lug the wood in, but I wonder if anyone has the answers to my current burning (ha!) questions......

What on earth do you do with all the cinders? I am currently chucking mine in a grubby pile under a pine tree.

Why can I not keep the glass clean? My neighbours all have blazing fires ago-go behind sparkling vitres. Despite daily cleaning, mine goes black almost instantly and stays like that till the next morning's scrub. I think I am singlehandly keeping the hearth cleaning industry afloat - I have a large collection of miracle products. I have also tried using the cinders as recommended by an elderly voisine (whose glass is amazingly clear, despite the fact they are burning pallets), old newspapers, lighting the fire with the door open - cough, cough - and pleading with the damn thing to stay looking pretty. All to no avail.

So can we talk woodburners?

Oak is difficult to burn we have the occasional piece that doesnt want to go but put Ash in with it and that gets it going, keep us posted on the results

Thank you for all the replies; all suggestions duly followed. .....

Have come to the conclusion that the seal's fine; we are burning oak at full pelt, so I think that it must just not be seasoned enough. The teabag/cinders/damp newspapers don't work, but oven cleaner seems to be doing the trick now, with much elbow grease. Will look into buying more wood if my wallet can stand it in the new year.

Many thanks for all the input.

Great tip for cleaning the glass - and it's free.

You don't need to buy ANY products to do this.

Get a rag, dampen it (not wet) and dip it into the ash from the previous night's fire. Rub (gently, no elbow grease needed) all over the glass. It will not scratch. Even on the tougher bits. No need to rinse.

Takes just a few seconds et viola! you'll have amazingly clear view of your fire again.

Cracking, John - thank you very much for that. Printed out and displayed :-)

Beech-wood fires burn bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year;
Store your beech for Christmastide
With new-cut holly laid beside;
Chestnut's only good, they say,
If for years 'tis stored away;
Birch and fir-wood burn too fast
Blaze too bright and do not last;
Flames from larch will shoot up high,
Dangerously the sparks will fly;
But ash-wood green and ash-wood brown
Are fit for a Queen with a golden crown.

Oaken logs, if dry and old,
Keep away the winter's cold;
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke;
Elm-wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold;
It is by the Irish said;
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread,
Apple-wood will scent the room,
Pear-wood smells like flowers in bloom;
But ash-wood wet and ash-wood dry
A King may warm his slippers by.

If you have fruit trees and bushes, such as redcurrant and blackcurrant, they like wood ash at their base. I think you must be burning "new" wood to get so much muck on the glass. You must also have the poele annually cleaned by a professional and keep the receipt as proof of annual cleaning; as this is one of those pernickety things the French like to see amongst the trillion documents needed for selling your house; I think it may also be obligatory for some house insurers.

Regarding black glass, use damp newspaper dipped in the wood ash to clean the glass. We learnt this trick from the chap who installed our wood burner.

Wood ash can be used on the flower beds or veggi patch.

If you have cinders ie large lumps of unburnt blackened wood thats charcoal so you arent allowing the stove enough air open all the air vents when first lighting the fire close them to allow the fire to burn brightly without roaring away WHEN the stove is up to temerature certainly not within the first 30 seconds of seing a flame as does a friend of ours her sooty pungent smoke can be smelt half a mile away but 4 stere of wood will last her 2 years if the glass does go black it should clear of its own accord once the fire has burnt the soot off the glass but it must burn brightly else it keeps sooting up, a wood fire burns more efficiently drawing air from above as opposed to a coal fire which is from below also leave up to 2 inch of ash on the fire bed when setting a new fire, if the seals in the fire door are leaking it will allow more air than required so burn very fiercely you have the opposite so forget your seals and unless your wood is sodden right through it will only be damp the first outer couple of mm. so dry quickly if the fire is going well dry kindling is required of course

As for your waste is should be ash basically powder and little of it if its burning efficiently i empty my ash pan once a week its good for the garden or if you have an icy path scatter it and it stops you braking you neck

Air is the key facter you cant live without air neither can a fire

we have been using a redtop fly trap all summer and highly recommend - it holds thousands of flies - attracts the female ones mainly so that they cannot lay eggs - our french neighboburs now use them as well - they are mainly used by agri/equine establishments but brilliant - best thing we have ever bought - it also catches the big hornets etc - has to be positioned about 15 metres from house/hen run etc that you are trying to keep clear of the little darlings

There's always far more bl**dy nettles for the tea. Flies, hmmm, we often use the old sticky paper things. One day last month I counted over 160 on one within 24 hours! Anybody who answers that one gets eternal gratitude. Green and black fly depart when covered in fine ground white pepper.

what a great tip,thanks, we now have another weapon in our fight against nettles. ( Although wasn't I s'posed to use nettle tea, to kill the black fly or similar?)
You dont have a magic fly killer based on old toothpaste or similar do you? As flies are high on our list of pests, after nettles ( we still have one or two in the house today!!)

If you cut your own wood, therefore have massive piles of wood dust, mix the two and put them over nettle patches throughout the winter. In the spring dig the patch over, the potash is far too rich for nettles that prefer poor soils and the rotting wood dust damages the roots. I was told that around 30 years ago, have done it ever since and it works.

Otherwise, as long as it is pure wood ash and fine and powdery, put it on your vegetable garden where you intend to plant brassicas. The potash is just what they like. Whatever you do, by the end of the second year they are on the ground they will have broken down and become part of your topsoil. That's just another reason wood burning is ecologically better than other fuels.

I think we all have similar problems - but, in my experience - it is "damp" or "cold" wood that causes the most problems. If you can bring the wood in at least 24 hours before you want to burn it, that will help. (Obviously the longer the better). I have found that glass cleaning is best just using the ashes and a damp cloth. It is decidedly messy - but then so am I!!

The ashes are great added to the compost heap!!

Good luck

I agree with the comments on burning. To clean the glass you don't need any of the commercial products. Use a damp cloth and dip it into the ash and use that. You will need to wipe off the glass and I usually give it a final wipe with a dry cloth. It can be done with a ball of damp newspaper and ash but I'm too tight to buy newspapers. Good luck

If you burn only wood, the ash is high in potash and can be put directly onto your veggie patch or mixed into the composter.

I leave the door slightly ajar until the fire really gets going. It tends to be that initial 10 minutes, before it gets really hot, that soots the windows up. The draught should take all the carbonny muck up the chimney and then you can shut the door.

You can check the seal by opening the front door, take a piece of alu-paper put that on the seal and close the door again. If you can pull the paper easily out of it's position, you need to change the seal. The ashes are rich in potassium and can be spread out into your garden, nourishing the plants.

Frequent blackening of the windows is a sign of incomplete burning, it can also be caused by the way you charge the stove. If the wood burns too close to the window it will blacken up the glass very quickly. Also check if al the air-inlets are in the right position to allow for a regular burning of the wood.

I'd suggest you ask your friendly neighbor for some of the pellets they're using, clean your stove (buy one of those low priced vacuum-cleaners specially designed to do the job) and fire those pellets. If the panes don't blacken you might indeed be using the wrong type of wood (rarely a problem, stoves will burn everything wooden) or wood that's too moist (more common a problem).

Best wood to fire though is available under the "Groupe 1" classification (oak, ash, birch, beech, maple) with a high caloric value and less then 20% humidity (12-15 would be ideal but can oly be achieved after 2 years of stocking and drying the wood indoors)

Cleaning the panes; just use any old oven-cleaner, provided it doesn't contain caustic soda and it is applied when the panes have cooled down to room temp. Some people use just a moist teabag which does the trick also....

Let us know what happens....

the glass will blacken if the wood is not dry enough or if its the wrong type of wood. These factors will cause smoke/blackening in my experience as the fire is burning at to low a temperature.

When I replaced the seal between the glass and the door, it slowed down but didn't stop the blackening.

I have read that you can add the cinders to the compost heap if you are only burning wood.