Solid Fuel Sense

Lifestyle Introduction:

Got a  forest?
Grand old fireplaces, burn mountains of logs! 



Choose good equipment,
keep it in tip-top condition…


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Fireplace Points & Tips, ‘The Knowledge’ 

Skyline Sooty Chimney & Stove Services – Solid Fuel Fires – Best Practice


Golden Rule-1:- Only burn dry fuels with ≤20% moisture, the dryer the better. Use a moisture meter

Golden Rule-2:- Never let stoves or fires cold-smoulder, stove ironwork to be >225OC. Use a stove thermometer



  • Combustion rate is slower for hardwoods than softwoods:- read Lady Celia Congreve’s poem, circa 1930
  • The smaller the log (i.e. kindling) the faster it will burn, so stoke with big hardwood logs to keep-in
  • Coal fires need oxygen to flow beneath the fire-bed, thus the grate, and a riddle to clear clinkers
  • Some coal has sulphurous chimney conditioner to clean flues, this can harm flues, and (stainless 316) liners
  • Wood fires can burn oxygen fed from above the fire-bed, so will happily burn on ash-piled up in the hearth
  • Store firewood in the dry, where wind can blow through, try jute sacking to shield rain, or Yorkshire boards
  • Keep firewood a safe distance from heat sources (and sparks), never let it come into contact with stoves etc.



  • Primary air/oxygen supply: Usually slider or spinner valve-taps on the stove front or door(s)
  • Secondary air/oxygen supply: A film of clean air to pass over door-glass (Clearview designed: Air-Wash)
  • Tertiary air/oxygen supply: Air sent to top of firebox, enabling a secondary combustion (DEFRA regulations)



  • Fire triangle:– (Heat)+(Oxygen)+(Fuel), all required for the chain-reaction called combustion or fire
  • Fuel gasification – solid fuel gasifies as a function of heating within the heart of the fireplace
  • A solid fuel flame plasma is burning hydrocarbon gasses resulting from solid-fuel-gasification
  • Slow lazy (rounded) orange/yellow flames are associated with:- carburising combustion conditions
  • Busy bright (jagged) yellow/blue flames are associated with:- oxidizing combustion conditions
  • An oxidizing combustion process is far more efficient, hotter, and produces much less soot and ash
  • Oxygen (O) starvation in carburising conditions will tend to increase the ratio of output of CO to CO2 gasses
  • Carburising conditions will generate and deposit more soot, creosote, and tar, – especially in the flue pipes
  • Tar, creosote, and excessive soot, stem from condensation of unspent hydrocarbon gases – from fuel gasification
  • The soot condition indicates the quality of combustion, i.e. it should be very fine, and look like ‘black flour’



  • Keep flue damper valves fully open, to better evacuate flue gasses, none of which will do you good
  • Keep air-wash valves ≥1/3 open, to ensure glass stays clear, and encourage oxidizing combustion
  • A hot fire will also help keep the inside of the stove and door glass clean, i.e. it burns off tar deposits
  • Fly-ash will build-up on the baffle-plate(s) and eventually throttle the stove, this must be cleared
  • Engineers design stoves and calculate the throughput of gasses within them, so keep gas passages clean
  • Excessive ash & soot inside a stove body will reduce its heat transfer capacity to your room or to its boiler
  • The two main types of solid-fuel stove are wood-burners, or coal-burners sometimes called multi-fuel-stoves
  • A coal-burning stove is happy to burn wood, but a wood-burning stove should never be used for coal
  • The fire-bricks in coal-burners (multi-fuel) protect the stove metalwork from the hotter blast from coal
  • Never over-fire, stove ironwork glows dull red ≥600OC, target temperature 15″ up stovepipe 150OC to 250OC
  • An efficient fire, burning at optimal temperature, produces little/no smoke, ash, or soot – and no tar or creosote
  • Wet fuel will dramatically reduce heat output, cause flue-way problems, and be difficult to light – useless, bad, don’t
Baffle -plates:
  1. Regulate internal gas-flow, reflect heat into fire, improve combustion
  2. Prevent excessive combustion chamber heat-blast from reaching the flue
  3. Prevent excessive combustion chamber heat-blast from damaging stove top/hob
  4. Help prevent sparks and embers flying up deposit laden flues, and possible ignition



  • Firelighters make life easy; a sustained, intense heat source, in constant contact with the kindling during ignition
  • Ironwork is a heat-sink; so start your fire on a fuel bed – to burn, and reflect heat back into the heart of the fire
  • Begin with small kindling, lay it all-across-ways, so the baby flames can lick at the stick edges above
  • Place larger sticks, then small logs, so as they reflect and absorb the growing heat, and then fall into the fire
  • Strive to generate and build a good bed of red-hot-embers, this is the heart of your solid fuel fire
  • Open all air valves for fire-lighting (maximum O), it may also help to leave stove doors ajar to improve draught



  • Call a person-you-like, certainly, but more importantly, call a competent person
  • Over 85% of chimneys in use are now coupled to stove-type appliances
  • To get the best from your fireplace, appliances must work well
  • Stoves, possibly need more maintenance than chimneys
  •  Assess the costs wisely - we’re dealing with fire!
“Modern chimney sweeping goes way beyond its traditional image,
the technical aspects associated with modern appliances demand this.”

Tim Lyon – February 2015 – Author’s copyright

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