Top-lit fires are best...

by James

When lighting a fire in a stove you can either put the small pieces in the bottom and keep putting larger pieces on top, or you can put the heavy logs on the bottom and kindling above.

This top lit approach is usually more successful because the weight of the logs doesn't smother the kindling beneath as it burns. It also works very well outdoor as the platform of wood beneath insulates your fire from the wet cold ground beneath.

We use this method every time now and it never fails us.

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Oct 16, 2011
Use 30% less wood with this method.
by: Anonymous

I always use the top down method now. I start with the largest pieces at the bottom and fill the firebox with layers of smaller and smaller pieces until it is nearly full.
I then add some dry kindling and newspaper or firelighters.
When I light the fire, I like to keep the door open about a half inch for 5 or 10 minutes to get things going quickly, then I close the door and set the air control to half way open and don't need to touch the stove for 4 or 5 hours until it needs more wood.
Much less chimney smoke and more heat, try it yourself, you will be impressed.

Agreed - it can be very effective. Im not sure you get best heat from your stove by a "set and forget" method though. We've found that actually restricting the air a little more once the burn is established can actually raise temperatures in the firebox. (nb - slight restriction, still burning cleanly).


Aug 08, 2013
Thumbs up for Top-lit Fires
by: Rich Ehrenberg

As a result of this article and comments from Mike, my whole concept of how to start fires has been altered to accept this new approach. I find that by using a lot of crumpled paper on top of the kindling when building the fire in my cast-iron stove, the quick heat from all the ignited paper creates a super draft up the chimney and thereby creates the needed draw of fresh air for growing the fire. In fact, instead of closing the stove door, I leave it ajar for the entire burn in order to assure a hot, robust, clean burn. The amount of wood in the firebox is kept relatively small so as not establish a large fire which could harm the stove with extremely high temperatures.

Having learned about the top-lit fire and the Rocket Stove method of burn, I am designing a new style of firebox to accommodate these two technologies. I am hoping to test it in our home this coming winter.

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