Our Esse Ironheart daily burn

‘What do four good sized logs look like?’, you might ask. I’ve mentioned in a number of posts, including yesterday’s about the positioning of our woodstove, that on a typical winter’s day we would go through four good sized logs. It’s hard to describe that, so we’ve taken a picture, to leave no doubt in anyone’s mind (apologies for the slight blurriness of this image):

Four logs of wood in front of Ironheart woodstove

The length of a typical winter’s day would include starting the fire around 8.30am and adding the last of the logs in the afternoon. On fiercely cold days (of which we had very few this past winter), we would extend the burn into the evening to help ensure more warmth through the nighttime hours, but we almost never banked a fire to keep it burning over night. Thanks to having a concrete house, our main living area would still be very comfortable in the morning.

My husband loves the whole ‘art’ of creating good burns in a woodstove, and has more tips than I can share here right now. He likes to keep a bit of mystery around it, I think! In brief, however, for a shorter, quick burning fire we’ll chop the logs shown above into smaller pieces and for a longer more intense burn we’ll retain some large pieces to nestle into the firebox and pack it quite well.

Apart from a good handsaw and an axe, we now also include in our arsenal of woodstove tools a wood grenade, and that has made splitting larger, denser logs much easier. At the moment we have a little side project of cutting wood from an elm tree that we felled last year (it was dead). Every now and then on a nice day we’ll go down and use our antique cross-saw to cut another length of wood from the trunk, split it and store it up at the house. When we did this most recently my older son used the wood grenade to split the huge round of wood we had just cut with the cross saw; the little grenade looked as though it would just get wedged into the dense elm fibre in the centre of the log, but sure enough, as the grenade wedged its way in deeper it split the log apart. The grenade was a smart and inexpensive purchase, the very best kind.

Elm tree being cut for firewood

While we’re still new at this we’re buying wood each fall from a great local provider who seasons his wood for two years before selling it, and gradually cutting some of the dead trees on our land for future burning. We also have a lot of apple wood branches (from our orchard rescue efforts!) that are already well seasoned and throw these into the mix. Although we have a decent stock of trees on our land, we’re planning to plant more trees expressly for the purposes of providing future fuel, and will do so each year.

24 thoughts on “Our Esse Ironheart daily burn

  1. Dagne, the lessons that you are teaching your sons are simply invaluable. What a treasure trove of real-life information they will possess deep down in their muscle memories. Ready to call on as they grow.

    We all want to prepare our kids for the future — whatever that means — and I think you are doing a fabulous job. Your family is so energetic and active and consistently outdoors, you should be proud.

    If you asked me what a good sized log looks like, I’d have guessed one of the many we climb on and over during our hikes! Trees that have fallen, really. So to see the practical explanation was quite interesting. Do they smell different, the different types of trees you burn?

    1. You are such a great champion Melissa, thank you!

      I’m still getting to know trees more intimately, but yes, they smell and burn very differently. Birch, elm, apple wood – they all have different densities and characteristics, and they make quite different fires. I really should have my husband do a post on this as he’s the one with the deep knowledge here.

  2. Your wood stove is so efficient. The four “good-sized” logs you use wouldn’t last long in our inefficient fireplace at the farmhouse (thank goodness that we live in a climate where wood fires are not needed).

    1. I think we’ve almost got ‘overkill’ with the efficiency of the Ironheart because of being in an ICF house. What’s so great about it is that anyone living in a conventionally built home or especially an old, drafty one in a cold place, could keep themselves warm on a reasonable amount of wood – more than we need, but not the crazy amounts needed by a regular woodstove. You can see why the Ironheart was developed for the damp and draftiness of many older UK homes.

      1. It’s a wonderful invention…you probably never have to run your conventional furnace…if indeed you actually have a conventional furnace, because you certainly don’t need one.

      2. Exactly! We went almost all winter without using our furnace and are kind of regretting having installed it (although it would make the house more sale-able, I assume)!

      3. We can go the entire winter without using our furnace as well, except the reason is not efficiency, but rather because our winters are fairly tropical.

    1. I know it seems hard to believe, but it’s quite true. On a really cold day we’ll go through a bit more wood, but that heated us on a typical day this past winter (which frankly wasn’t as cold as we’re used to in this part of Canada). Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Just a quick question…. do you use the wood burning kit insert, or do you use the multifuel grate with the larger ashpan?
    We have been burning our irronheart in northern BC for less than a year. We just switched from the kit to the grate this week to see the difference. We would be interested in knowing what you use and find most efficient and easiest to use.

    1. Welcome! When we first got our stove it came with just the multifuel grate with the larger ashpan. We finally purchased and installed the wood burning insert earlier this year, and have to say it has made a tremendous difference to what we felt was an already incredibly efficient burn. I’m planning on posting an update about this a bit later in the season. My husband, who is really in charge of the Ironheart at our house, loves the wood burning insert and wishes we had got it sooner. How are you finding the Ironheart in your location and type of home? Wonderful choice.

      1. That is so interesting….because, we have found just the opposite. The ironheart is my husband,s baby as well. We started out with the insert, but decided to try the original grate. My husband much prefers the grate. He finds he gets better draw, as well it is much easier to empty ashes. We had quite a build up of ash that would need to be emptied out every second day or so. I am sure it depends on what type of wood is burned as well…mostly pine bugwood here mixed with birch. We also live in a 60’s log house. We replaced an older Elmira Oval cookstove with the ironheart. What we lost in pure old fashioned beauty and dream cooking, we gained in efficiency, heat output, and convenience of burn times.
        Thanks for getting back to us.

      2. It does as though we need different things from the Ironheart in terms of heat output. Because we’re living in a concrete house, a well controlled, slow burn is preferable. We can take time for a burn to start in the morning too, as the house stay so warm overnight. So I think that’s one reason why the wood insert has been so good for us; it’s not unusual for us to get a slow, 12-hour burn from a single fire set the morning. I think you’re right about the kind of wood you’re burning too: we’re using harder woods and did a lot of research on optimal woods to burn. Great to hear from you!

  4. We live in Yorkshire UK, and have just installed an Ironheart in the kitchen, without a back boiler, and in general, very happy with it. Churns out a good amount of heat, and have made some superb bread. We have measured the oven temperatures and found the hottest is about 180F, when the integral dial in in the middle of the Very Hot range.
    We have just been using wood that is well dried in the wood burning box. When I saw your photograph of a day’s worth of logs, I was astounded. The one thing we have found difficult is controlling the burn. The fire is either roaring off like a blowtorch and would be using that amount of logs in 2 or 3 hrs, or else smouldering and gradually dying. The other aspect we have found is that it is like a small child, it needs constant attentiion. If we let it die down just a bit too much, it just smoulders with more logs, and needs essentially rekindling.
    Do you have any hints on using the air controls? We have a good flue draught even with all the controls closed, and am wondering if trying to increase the size of the flue damper would help.

    1. great to hear from you Ian, and we’d love to help. I’m going to gather a few tips from my husband, who really is the Ironheart burn expert here, and will reply shortly!

  5. Hi again.A n update on our Ironheart.Got it all installed and running.I put the log-box in first, but couldn’t get a constant burn.Similar to Ian.So back in went the multi-fuel grate . However we seem to be at one end or the other regarding output.We are probably using about the same amount of wood as you ,but thought we would get more heat out warming the barn. We use tank gas for 2 hours in the morning to top up hot water then the stove for the rest of the day.Wifey and I have decided , if we have visitors , especially townees, we will have to put the underfloor heating on to keep them happy.We are both ex. townees (10 years ago) so cope happily with a cooler living.Will keep my eye on your blog,especially for hubby’s tips on the Ironheart .(No pressure on him of course).To finish, have cooked biscuits , pasta various, pizza and omelette and am planning to expand my recipes. Regards Jim

  6. Hi Jim, great to hear from you again. It sounds like you’re fairly flying along with the Ironheart! I’m afraid I’ve been slow on the Ironheart updates here this winter. My husband is actually from Sussex and we’re just about to leave for a 12-day visit there later this week! I’ve got photos for another update, as he has been training our older son on lighting and maintaining fires and it was a good opportunity to prepare another post. I may not get it done before I go, but am overdue for several Ironheart related posts on my return. What’s the weather like at the moment? cheers!

    1. Hi you all.That was a quick reply.Good to hear your on your way over.I live in Yapton,W Sussex ,I think your in East Sussex just a bit up the road.Weather here is improving at the moment. Has been , for UK. pretty cold and dismal.But seeing the temperatures you get , it will probably seem fine to you.Bright sun this morning and tomorow is supposedly better.Will be good to see your update and thoughts on your break in the UK.Have a good safe journey.Regards Jim

      1. I was just looking at Yapton on Google Maps; we were so close to you last year when we took our boys to Tangmere and Arundel! If only the timing were different I’d suggest a visit and see if you were game, but I remember that drive was not a lot of fun from Eastbourne. We’re really intrigued by the sound of your home and your experience of using the Ironheart. Would you be willing to share some photos of your place and the Ironheart’s placement for me to illustrate here? You could email me directly at df@wuppenif.com. Cheers.

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