How long is your woodstove’s burn time?

Hot embers in Ironheart woodstove after 17 hours burn time

Long winter nights mean that keeping the fire going in your woodstove is essential; being able to stir up still hot embers in the morning means it’s easy to relight or rekindle a fire for a new day’s burn.

How about a burn time of 17 hours or longer? We haven’t been in the habit of timing our woodstove, though I have written before about just how efficient our Esse Ironheart woodstove is and how very little wood we need to burn to keep our ICF house warm during the winter (photo below). The other day, at around minus 15 Celsius (that’s 5 Fahrenheit), my husband noticed at 5.30pm that our firebox was full of red hot embers some 17.5 hours after last adding a log at 10pm the night before. Being able to forget about tending the fire for that long is a common occurrence around here, but we just hadn’t taken note fully before. It is worth saying here that we have the wood burning insert for the Ironheart and that we had a lot of ash banked up at the time of feeding the fire that last time.

Four logs of wood in front of Ironheart woodstove

There are a number of factors that will affect burn time, including the kind of wood burned, how well stacked the wood is within the firebox, air flow/control, and so on – all of which my husband works to optimize regularly – but what we think we’ve been able to demonstrate here is just how incredibly efficient the Esse Ironheart woodstove is, particularly when combined with ICF (insulated concrete forms) house construction. Getting a long burn time is one thing, but having a house envelope that can hold that heat in is naturally going to extend that time. I’ve had a lot of great conversations with other Ironheart owners here over the past few years, some of whom are having to feed their Ironhearts much more than we do, largely because they have a house that requires more continual heat input.

There are great pleasures in tending to and feeding a fire in a woodstove, as my husband will attest. Is burn time important for you? (I bet it is if you chop and haul your own wood.) What woodstove routines do you relish?

26 thoughts on “How long is your woodstove’s burn time?

    1. I’m so pleased to hear that! Yes, it’s really worth it. And being able to heat our home on one cord of wood (compared to a dozen according to many people we know with conventional woodstoves and home construction) up here in Canada is pretty great. Good luck on your own journey, as that’s half the fun!

  1. Okay, I am envious of your Esse. Not only does it burn efficiently, but you can SEE the fire. We miss the glow of the fire with our Baker’s Choice. We do get a good 6 square feet of cooking surface along with a baking oven.
    We burn much of our own wood which happens to be bull pine (hard to split) and other ‘soft’ wood. If we want hard wood, we’ve got to buy it. I’m curious, what kind of wood do you use and how do you regulate the intake of air you need to feed the fire? Our house is fairly well insulated, but we have some leaks around the door. I just figured that was needed to let in the air needed for the stove. How do you manage it with a ICF type house?

    1. It is nice seeing the fire, I must admit, although hands down it’s the heat that wins me over! Your Baker’s Choice sounds like a great cooking/baking centre for you. Birch, oak, ash (seasoned for two years when we get in, and generally stored for a third before we use it) are the main types in our stored wood, but we also burn some of our own apple wood. In terms of air intake, when the builder of our home assessed the Ironheart’s efficiency, he assured us that an air exchange unit was all we’d need in our ICF bungalow, and that does indeed seem to do the trick. In the winter, with the house closed up you would think we would need more, but it seems to get enough.

  2. During the day we burn a lot of scrap pallet wood, ideal for quickly getting to frying temps and as we go to a fro happy to throw more wood in, saving the logs for the times we are away for a while.
    we tend to let the fire out every evening, once we move out of the room, we open the vents up and let it burn out, rather than trying to keep it it – it is so easy to light. Saying that quite often I have come to light it the next day around 8 hours later and found life still in the ashes, and that’s without banking it up

    1. I think that cracking getting it to cooking temp quickly is really smart and pallet wood sounds like a good bet. Being able to light the fire so easily after eight hours without banking it up is pretty amazing, isn’t it. Happy new year!

  3. That’s an impressive burn time, though I can tell that the major contributing factor is probably your husband’s ability to “optimize” all the control things so well :). What a great combo with the ICF construction. We’re fascinated by the Esse, and I have been commanded to go back through all your other Esse posts, so if the stats jump on hitherto humble posts, it will have been me!

    1. We’ve definitely heard very different stories about the Ironheart’s performance depending on where people are, the kind of home construction they have, the kind of wood they have to burn, etc., and I’m just getting ready to do a post on that one over the next little bit, so you’ll definitely want to see that one. It is a woodstove that lives up to the great things said about it, but it clearly also behaves differently under various circumstances. And I think your comment about my husband optimizing those settings is absolutely spot-on: I just wouldn’t have the patience/interest for the laser focus he brings to it. He’s definitely the Ironheart expert in our house!

  4. I admit to be envious of your efficiency. We heat with a Central Boiler outdoor wood furnace. In this cold winter we’ve been burning a lot of wood. I didn’t stockpile enough over the summer, so I’ve been having to cut wood nearly every day to keep up. Fortunately with our set up we can burn wet wood, but I’m sure that affects our efficiency.
    I love our set up though. I’ve never liked cleaning fireplace and woodstoves and from all the way back to my childhood I’ve had a knack for getting ashes and smoke in the house when cleaning or when starting a fire. Much easier to do it outside (and no more splitting wood!)

    1. The efficiency is rather nice, especially given the kinds of cold winters we tend to have, but it isn’t necessarily everything. If you have access to a lot of wood and enjoy the process, the kind of set up that you describe is also great. Not having to worry about cleaning out the old ashes and suchlike sounds like it could be a dream, especially if you find that it’s not your thing! Being able to burn wet wood is something I can’t even imagine – that’s pretty cool!

  5. I’ve been following your blog recently because we have just had our Ironheart installed (after 18 months waiting for the local artisans to get their act together). We also find ours very efficient. However, a slow burn is not always great for cooking so we have started to stockpile smaller pieces of wood for a fast burn. The farmers around us in Normandy just burn all the smaller branches in the fields when they have been coppicing, but a friend offered us all these pieces (it was a HUGE quantity!) and over Xmas we removed and chopped as much as we could. Hopefully it will be seasoned in a year’s time because it is quite small (about 10 years of growth). Looking forward to hearing more tales of your Ironheart :-)
    Jane

    1. Welcome Jane, and thank you for the great detailed comment about your own situation. You must be pleased to finally have your Ironheart! The point you make about a long slow burn not being as conducive for cooking is absolutely true; to keep the heat up for cooking you definitely have to have a different kind of fire going. Great news about the wood you came into thanks to the kindness of your neighbours! May I ask what kind of home construction you have (and anything else about the building you’re willing to share)? I’m compiling a bit of a picture of the different homes in which people have the Ironheart. Thanks so much for stopping by and I look forward to chatting more in future.

  6. Our little F100 will only keep colas for about 6 hours. If it is really burning hot, I load it up and turn the air down before bed I can get up 8 hours later and just have enough to get a good fire going relatively easily.

    1. Being able to keep a fire going just long enough overnight sounds pretty good. Do you use your woodstove to heat your home, or just part of it? Do you ever cook on top of it? Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      1. Yes we use it as our primary heat source. So far it has been able to keep up with a daytime high temperature of 2F and a nighttime low of -8F. I did have to get up in the night and reload one time though. It is pretty terrible for cooking. It is more of a warmer. It is great for rewarming soups and things. It is probably comparable to a slow cooker on low or medium heat.

      2. Thanks for getting back to me on this. Being able to reheat some foods is certainly better than nothing when there is no other power source :) Isn’t it nice to heat just with wood!

  7. We found your blog today when we had our chimneys swept. We have an Esse Ironheart too, with a hot water boiler which means our fuel efficiency in the winter is amazing as we get heat, hot water and cooking all from one fuel source.

    Our fuel of preference, living in west Cornwall which is quite bereft of a decent wood source, is compressed hardwood heatlogs which we get delivered 3-4 times a year about 1 tonne on a pallet. We live in town which means our storage for wood is limited although our first year with the Ironheart was tried out with locally-sourced wood. However two local logging companies provided us with green wood, trying to dupe us that it was seasoned (as advertised and priced).

    On two occasions we demanded they take it back. So our experience has been poor. Other local woods people have been much better although their supply is erratic, and living in a townhouse means that tipping a load isn’t an option. But these heatlogs are not only high output but also economical bought in such quantity, and they stack in boxes or sacks beautifully.

    We have used smokeless coal in the past too which is good but requires constant emptying. Heatlogs make very little ash and if you have one, great for your garden.

    The Ironheart is accompanied by an open fire in the middle of our house, used very occasionally, and by a Town & Country Farndale at the front which is the most efficient multi-fuel stove we have ever experienced, you can control it almost like a gas fire.

    Our house is granite which means it is not as heat efficient as modern construction but we did have the entire roof heavily insulated last year which has made an enormous difference to our heatloss problems (which were very great prior to this).

    However we have in recent weeks had a problem with the Ironheart building up a lot of creosote and being quite ‘sooty’. Although we get it swept and cleaned twice a year and this year we have been inundated with torrential rain and storms, our seaward air being damp pretty much all the time, this was unusual. Our sweep recommended we burn the heatlogs in Esse’s extended woodburning box rather than on the grate so that we can build up a proper bed of ash and keep the temperature inside the stove higher. We are about to do this.

    The heatlogs also stay in over night and we have managed 8 hours before re-loading. We wonder whether getting a woodburning box will mean that we could have longer. We love coming downstairs to a house that is still warmed.

    We’d love to keep in touch with your blog. We are about to write a series of posts on the Ironheart and our life living on solid fuel alone (in town!) on our blog.

    1. How lovely to get this long, detailed post about your life with an Ironheart. Thank you so much for taking the time to share in this way, it’s hugely appreciated. I’ve been in the midst of compiling an overview of the different folks in different parts of the world using the Ironheart, and this is a great addition to the information that I have (I will be sharing here – if you are game to share any photos of your set-up with the Ironheart, please email me at df AT wuppenif.com).

      I think you’d find the wood burning insert very worthwhile; we added ours last winter, after initially burning without (it was an oversight in the original order/install), and have definitely seen a difference in burn times, efficiency, etc. We’ve also noticed that our chimney barely needs sweeping, and I think this is also down in part to having the wood insert.

      Getting good wood for burning is obviously such a challenge in the UK; I hear about this again and again, and you clearly had some bad experiences! Your hardwood heatlogs sound like a great way to go. In Canada many folks use wood pellets instead of logs, although that information was new to me when we got into woodstoves when selecting the Ironheart.

      Again, welcome and thanks so much for the great detail. I hope you enjoy the back posts, and you can watch for new posts this winter. Cheers!

  8. The pleasure of tending a wood fire is a good one! Over Christmas, when we weren’t well and spent most of our time in the sitting room with th elog burner on, we did what you did and put a log on overnight on top of the embers and in the morning a few pokes and a new log and away we went – we actually kept it going like that for 10 days ! and yes the quality of wood to burn is a key – nice and dried out!

    1. Your ten-day long overnight burn sounds wonderful Claire; what a cosy time that conjures up and an ideal way to spend your time when you’re not feeling your best.

  9. Wow, incredible burn time! I love reading about your Ironheart. It’s so beautiful too. We have old open fire places in our bedrooms, but they’re tiny and we only ever use them for novelty value! Nothing more beautiful than real live flames though.

    1. Thanks Sas, it is a pretty special woodstove. I love the sound of the open fireplaces in your bedrooms; we had several in our home in England and they do have a lovely feel about them.

  10. I burn Australian redgum in my Ironheart, and it is so easy. I’m lucky to have access to a forest full of wood, including many ‘standing dead’ trees that are already seasoned and just need cutting down and chopping up.

    I use smaller pieces (3-4″ diameter) to get a good cooking fire going in the evening. After dinner I’ll add a medium-sized piece, maybe two (6-9″) to keep the heat up and make the place cosy, but with the intention of letting it burn down by bedtime. When I go to bed I’ll put in a ‘firebox filler’ (10-12″) and close the vents a bit. This means the kitchen/lounge is lovely and warm in the morning, and there’s a good bed of coals that will fire straight up when I open the vents and maybe add a small log or two to cook breakfast.

    If the days are cold or I’m doing a lot of cooking I’ll burn a few more medium logs during the day to keep the heat up. If the days are warm (or I’ll be away) I’ll either let it go out or just add another firebox filler to keep it ticking over to dinnertime. Dry redgum ultimately burns away to nothing given a good hot fire so I rarely even need to empty the pan.

    It’s remarkable how little wood it needs, and how much work it does! The trick is definitely to use good dry wood, I had to get by on some unseasoned scrap wood for a while last year and it used a lot more wood and created bucketloads of ash every week, even though it ‘seemed’ dry enough.

    I still reckon the Ironheart is the single best thing I’ve ever bought. It’s perfect for my house and with a free lifetime supply of dry wood that suits it so well, I’m almost embarrassed how well it takes care of my cooking, heating and hot water for a good chunk of the year!

    1. Neil, thank you so much for the very detailed comment around your own experience of burning in the Ironheart. I really appreciate you taking the time. It’s really interesting to get a feel for the size of the pieces that you use as you move through your day and heating regimen.

      We’ve noticed the same sort of result when we’ve had to burn wood that isn’t as dry as it could be; the ash just seems to pile up on those occasions. We have access to quite a range of woods in Canada, so what we burn changes from season to season, though we like to stick with the reliable hard woods as much as we can. We’ve just felled a dead elm tree on our property and will press that into service, though I think it’s pretty middling as wood for burning goes. The Australian redgum sounds truly amazing.

      I think you do indeed have the sweetest deal going with all that free wood paired with an Ironheart. They are truly amazing woodstoves and we marvel every year at our luck in finding out about ours when it was time to choose a woodstove.

      Thanks again for stopping by; I’d love to mention your experience if I may when I share reader experiences in an upcoming post.

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