Learning how to maximize the efficiency of your portable wood stove will make your winter camping trips much more enjoyable. Maximizing stove efficiency reduces time spent chopping, allowing you more time to enjoy the outdoors or to relax comfortably inside your hot tent.
At Boreal Outdoor Innovations we get many questions from clients and outfitters about how to get the most out of our portable wood stoves. Here is an easy reference guide:
Selecting the Right Wood
Selecting the right type wood will greatly enhance your burn time.
When searching for wood to burn, preferentially select dead trees that are still standing (as opposed to those already lying on the ground). Trees that are still standing will have less moisture trapped inside the wood. Trees found on the ground quickly get saturated with moisture causing them to smoke and burn less efficiently. If wood from the ground is your only option, try to choose pieces that have not begun to rot (a clear sign that the wood has exposed to high levels moisture and should be discarded). In addition to moisture, also consider wood type.
Hardwood is preferred as your main fuel, if available, as it provides more heat, burns longer than softwood and forms a hot bed of coals when consumed, making re-starting a fire easier. Softwood is ideal for starting a fire since it burns faster and produces more flames making it ideal for kindling purposes since it ignites with greater ease then hardwood.
Storing cut wood beside your stove
Once the wood stove is up and running, you need to choose a place to store your wood. Storing it beside your stove helps to further dry your wood, reducing the risk of smoke buildup in the tent. Keeping the wood inside minimizes the need to open your tent door which can lead to cooling down your internal tent temperature.
Regulating the Stove Temperature With Your Air Vent and Damper
Most portable wood stoves on the market today, have a main damper in the lower pipe section to reduce or increase air flow and a front air vent to regulate how much air is introduced into your stove. Regulating the amount of air being drawn into your wood stove through the front vent is the best way to manage the overall stove temperature. Leaving the front air vent fully open while trying to slow down the airflow from the main damper valve can be tricky and slow, this is why the vent is preferred. Once the stove is up to operating temperatures and a bed of coals has been established, controlling the initial air entering your stove will slow down the burn rate and the damper can be adjusted to slow down flow through to keep more heat within the stove.
Heat Reflection and Retention
Heat from your stove emanates in all directions, including towards the back corner where nobody sits (if your stove is located in the corner). By placing heat shields around the entire back side of the stove and a heat reflector underneath the stove will reflect a significant amount of heat back into the stove itself and back into the main area of the tent, allowing more warm air to circulate within the tent before it escapes through the tent fabric. Heat reflectors also serve as a barrier between your stove and the tent wall, protecting the tent wall fabric from overheating and discolouration.
A false bottom provides an elevated surface inside the stove allowing air to circulate below the wood creating a more efficient, complete burn. By using a false bottom, you also eliminate the need to find our haul in sand which is used to protect the bottom of the stove, preventing it from burning out.
Using a Baffle Within Your Stove
A baffle is a metal plate that is placed slightly below the stove’s exhaust pipe hole which prevents the flame and heat from going directly up into the exhaust pipe. Routing the flame around the baffle plate first, before exiting through the exhaust pipe forces the waste gases to stay longer within the stove and reflects heat back into the firebox. This has the effect of reducing the amount of wood required. An additional benefit of using a baffle is that it eliminates the need for a spark arrestor since all of the embers are burned before exiting the stove, reducing potential burn marks or holes on your hot tent. Many clients are surprised how much less wood they have burned when a baffle is installed. If you are only going to purchase one accessory for your wood stove, make it a baffle.
We offer a variety of accessories for you portable wood stoves to enhance your winter camping experience.
Take care friends, and we’ll see you on the trails!