How to bank a fire in an airtight stove

The purpose of banking a fire is to keep it going overnight, or for a long period of time when you can’t tend it. There’s nothing better than waking up on a cold morning to find that your fire is still hot and all you have to do is throw on some more wood to get it roaring again.

Fires need fuel and air to burn. In banking a fire, you give it lots of fuel (wood) but restrict the air getting to the wood. Two things you do to restrict the air getting to the wood is to smother the burning wood in cold ash, and close down your damper. Properly banked, a fire will remain hot for several hours – up to 8 or 10 – and continue to burn, but at a very slow, low rate, because the air flow is restricted. This is the trick to understanding how to bank your fire.

Banked fire

Here are the steps I use to bank the fire in my old airtight wood stove:

1. burn enough wood at a hot heat to create a good hot bed of coals by the time you want to bank it

2. place 2-4 big heavy pieces of hardwood closely together on top of the coals

3. cover the wood with 2-3 inches of cold ash from your ash pail, pile it up along the sides and top (this is what’s known as banking) – don’t use hot ashes

4. make sure all flames are out, cover with more ash if necessary – don’t worry, you won’t put it out! You want the fire to remain as hot coals, a slow smolder, not flaming

5. close the damper down so just a small amount of air gets in to the stove

Position of dampers

6. in the morning, remove as much ash as possible (so you have a good amount of cold ash to use that night), add wood and presto

2 Responses to “How to bank a fire in an airtight stove”

  1. Hey ladies, great information about overnight burning. I am a new stove owner and all the information is so confusing. Good, simple, clear detail. I am going to try it tonight – with coal and tomorrow with wood. I have a Multifuel burner. Thanks again. Kristian (UK)

  2. Ergo Scharff says:

    Thanks for posting this information. I looked around the web and found quite a few bits of advice but none that was as detailed and sensible as this. I’ve utilized this method several times now and it works. It really helps my family when we wake up and it’s 17 degrees outside and 48 in the house. It also helps me feel satisfied that, Hey I CAN learn practical homesteading skills. Here is something that I didn’t know how to do just a few days ago and now I do. Thanks again! It really makes a difference in our life to know how to do this.

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