Today is the perfect day for this post, seeing as we hit -20 out here! Kyle was up stoking the fire several times during the night due to the cold and our undersized wood stove (we have this one). It keeps our place heated, but it’s small enough that fires don’t last overnight in it.
We are able to maintain a nice 70-80° inside as long as we watch the fire, even as cold as it is, so that’s been awesome!
We recently finished the floor of our addition, and added a thermal underlayment to it. Since then we’ve noticed an increase in how long the fire stays lit. It went from about an hour and a half to around 3 hours on average, and occasionally we manage a “perfect” fire that lasts much longer!
Fixing the floor stopped up a few drafty spots, which I’m sure helped even though we dampened our stove down completely at night. I also did some research, and apparently colder air causes fires to burn faster. I’m not sure I understood all the science, but the basics were faster up draft and higher oxygen levels in cold air causing faster burn. So it makes sense that a warm house would have a slower burning fire than a cold house!
We’ve also learned that bigger pieces burn slower than stacking a whole bunch of little pieces. It also cuts down on how long it takes to chop wood as well, so we’re both glad to have figured that one out. Heating entirely with wood (and a small stove) has been a trial and error experience.
In other fire news, it seems cooking on a wood stove is half science, half art. There are definitely hot spots on the stove, but cooking with cast iron helps even out the heat on food. We’ve cooked everything on the wood stove since October, except our chicken that we had for Thanksgiving. I was not confident that I could keep the temperature steady long enough to cook it thoroughly. At first Kyle wanted to cook on propane, but our propane stove is in our greenhouse/garage, and I was not excited to go outside to cook several times a day. The wood stove is going to be going hot all day anyway, why not cook with it as well!
I haven’t actually burned anything while cooking in quite a while either. Though some days Kyle does get the warning that pancakes will suck that morning because I didn’t let the pan heat up enough before I started cooking. Are we the only people that want crispy edges on our pancakes? Kyle seems to think so!
It’s taken us the last few months to get confident with heating our cabin with the wood stove. Now we know when it needs stoked, when we can let it go out, and when we have a perfect stack of wood in it and don’t need to worry about it for a while.
Fire science, just another skill learned living off grid and off road!