Wood Burning Stove Parts Explained

Get to know the various wood burning stove parts that work together to heat up your home. It sure helps if anything is to ever break or go wrong.

Old Wood Burning Stove

It’s only when you know and are familiar with the different wood burner parts that you can be well-informed enough to be confident of using your stove properly, efficiently and, above all else, safely.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to know about the components of your wood stove, so read on to get the information you need.

Wood Burning Stove Parts

A wood burner massively improves the heat output and efficiency when you burn wood at home when compared with using an open fireplace. 

While your traditional fireplace has an efficiency of just 20%, a wood burner is capable of reaching an efficiency of around 80%, so a lot more heat can be supplied to the home and less will be lost to the chimney.

While all models of wood burner are constructed and designed differently, in general, wood stoves all comprise the same primary components to maximize the heat that can be produced from burning wood.

The primary log burner parts include:

  • The firebox
  • The air vents
  • The baffle
  • The wood burner vent controls
  • The flue collar
  • The flue
  • The stovepipe
  • The ash pan
  • The doors
  • The catalytic combustor
  • The damper


Next, we’ll look in more detail at each of those parts.


The Firebox

This is the primary compartment in your wood burner. It’s where you add the fuel and where the fire burns.

The stove’s glass door is located at the front of its firebox and this allows you to look at the fire.

On the sides and back of the firebox, there are heat-resistant materials like metal, cement or masonry firebricks.

On the firebox’s bases, you’ll find more fire-resistant materials such as a metal wood burner grate.

The baffle is at the top of the stove’s firebox and the flue collar can be found just behind it.

Fire in a wood stove

Typically, the bigger the stove’s firebox, the larger the amount of fuel you can add to your stove and the greater the heat that can be produced.

Heat output is also influenced by the stove’s efficiency – you can generate a higher heat output if you provide the cleanest possible burn of wood by keeping the waste gases inside the firebox as long as you can so secondary combustion can take place.


Recommended: Learn all you need to know about the leading small wood stoves on the market.


The Wood Burning Stove Air Vents

All wood stoves have either one or several sets of air vents to supply the fire with fresh oxygen.

There are 3 kinds of air that are fed to fires in wood stoves:

  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary

Primary is typically fed to the firebox’s base to supply oxygen directly to the fire’s main area.

It’s most useful when lighting the fire and in helping the stove reach its full operational temperature, but it is less important later when the fire is properly established and the secondary and tertiary air becomes the primary oxygen sources to the firebox.

Secondary air is either fed to the stove from above or below, so these vents are usually found at the top of the front of the stove or underneath it.

Dickinson Newport small wood stove

Secondary air provides oxygen to allow secondary combustion of the gases that the fire releases and also supplies air to allow the air wash system of the stove to keep the door clean.

Tertiary air may take over from secondary air as the primary oxygen source for the secondary burn.

You will typically find the tertiary air vents at the stove’s rear and these cannot be controlled manually.

Different stove models will have different air vent locations and they may operate in different ways. Not all stoves provide all 3 types of air to the fire.


Recommended: Discover which wood stoves are currently the most efficient in our big guide.


Controls for the Air Vents

Secondary and primary air sources for wood burners are usually operated manually with controls which may take the form of a handle, a lever or a dial. Generally, tertiary air vents cannot be closed.

When you manually open or close the secondary or primary air vents, it’s possible to control the speed and efficiency of the fire.

Different models have vents that operate differently, so reading the owner’s manual is important so you can learn how to operate the vents on your stove.

small wood stove in a bedroom

The Baffle

The baffle is a term used for anything who changes or slow down the direction of the gases produced inside the stove when the fire burns.

Most baffles will be plates of cast-iron, refractory brick or steel and they will be found at the top of your stove’s firebox.

Gases and smoke have to navigate their way around the baffle before they can exit the stove.

As a result, this keeps the gases inside your stove for longer. This means that there is more time to permit complete combustion.

Most of the heat that is generated when you burn wood comes from secondary combustion of the waste gases that are produced.

If these gases can be kept inside the firebox for a longer period with the baffle, there is more time to burn the gases off.

The baffle is needed to handle the fire’s high temperatures but it may be damaged should the heat output exceed the stove’s specified operating temperature.

Timberwolf EPA 2100 wood stove

The Flue Collar

You will find the stove’s flue collar close to the fireplace top, usually above the firebox and behind the baffle.

This is where the stovepipe and wood burner meet and it supplies a passage to allow the waste gases produced by the fire to leave the property safely.

In some models of wood burner, you may find the flue collar on the rear or top of your stove depending on which way your flue heads out of the property. It will typically be oval or round in shape.


The Flue and Stovepipe

You will find the stovepipe connected to your stove with the flue collar. The stovepipe connects the flue with the stove itself.

The flue may extend either vertically upwards through your ceiling, extend upwards to your roof via the chimney, or extend through one of your external walls at an angle.

Wood fired stove

The Doors

You will find the doors to your wood burner at the stove’s front. Usually, they will incorporate a glass screen so you can see the fire even when the door is closed.

You will find a seal inside your stove doors so no air can get through the doors into your stove.

This seal also ensures that all of the air that gets into your firebox goes via the air vents and, therefore, can be managed.

Some wood stoves feature an air wash system so that the glass in the door panel can remain clean, allowing you an uninterrupted and full view of your burning fire.

Without one, the door will eventually blacken and will require more regular cleaning to keep the glass clear.

Old stove with open door and burning the woo

In old wood-burning stoves with glass panel doors to their front, the glass will blacken quite rapidly due to the condensing smoke inside the firebox.

The air wash system prevents this problem since it features an opening for the combustion air either along the bottom or top of the door’s glass.

This focuses the combustion air against the glass’s inside, reducing the smoke condensation and, so, ensuring the glass stays clean.


The Ash Pan

If you have a multi-fuel stove, your model will probably have an ash pan, but most stoves that only burn wood don’t have one.

The ash pan will be found just under the stove’s firebox and it is there to catch the ash when it falls through the grate of the firebox.

Wood doesn’t require an air source from below to burn as efficiently as possible, but coal does.

This is why a multi-fuel stove will have a metal grate incorporated into the firebox base and why a wood-burning stove will usually have only a piece of flat fireproof material.

Hi Flame Shetland wood stove

Air is supplied to the base of multi-fuel stove fireboxes via the grate and ash pan. Since a multi-fuel stove requires a grate, there is an ash pan in place so any ash falling through can be collected easily.

Grates can often be controlled with a lever to the stove’s side which will rotate the grate so ash can easily fall into the ash pan from the firebox.

If your stove has no ash pan, you’ll need to manually remove all of the excess ash yourself from your stove’s firebox.

It is sometimes recommended by stove manufacturers to leave an ash layer on the firebox’s base so the components in the ash pan or firebox can be protected from the fire’s heat and also so the coals can be insulated while the fire is heating to the correct temperature.


Recommended: Don't miss our wood burning stove safety guide next.


The Damper

If your wood burner is an older model, it may feature a damper inside its stovepipe. 

The damper is a moving plate which can be closed or opened manually so that the draw on your wood stove can be controlled by regulating the gas flow through your wood stove.

Wood Stove Damper

An older stove may sometimes feature a pipe damper which is a round valve inside the stovepipe. The user can open or close this valve to increase or reduce the gas flow through their stove.

It’s possible to use a damper together with the air vents of your stove to control how quickly the fuel is burned by the fire and, therefore, the amount of heat that the stove puts out overall.

Newer models of wood-burning stove usually have no damper unless they are catalytic models which tend to feature a bypass damper inside the wood stove itself.

This metal plate allows gases and smoke to move around, or bypass, the catalytic unit when it is open.

Once the stove has reached the appropriate temperature to allow the catalytic unit to operate, the bypass damper can be closed so the smoke is forced through the stove’s catalytic combustor.


The Catalytic Combustor

If your wood burner is a high-efficiency model, it may feature a catalytic combustor to reduce even further the number of unwanted pollutants that leave your home.

Catalytic combustors help lower the temperature at which the gases burn inside the stove and this provides a cleaner burn overall with lower emissions.

wood burning stove

The catalytic combustor has a shape similar to a honeycomb and is a ceramic insert featuring several tubes or small channels that run through it.

A catalytic chemical such as palladium or platinum will have been applied to the ceramic’s surface and this will react with the smoke that goes through the tubes or channels to reduce the smoke’s ignition temperature and cause it to burn.

As a result of this lowering of the smoke ignition temperature, a more complete burn is possible which makes the stove a lot more energy-efficient, meaning you get more heat output from your fuel.


Secondary Burn Tubes

Some wood-burning stoves feature secondary burn tubes. These metal, perforated tubes can be found inside the top of your stove’s firebox.

They enable combustion air to get into the firebox and the unburned gases which move upwards from the fuel to mix with the oxygen from inside the tubes so that it ignites.

In this way, smoke which would otherwise have escaped up the stove’s flue can be burned and this increases the stove’s efficiency whilst also cutting smoke emissions – something which is very important these days since some areas have emissions regulations that must be complied with by homeowners who have wood-burning stoves.

These are the primary components that you will find in virtually all wood-burning stoves. Your model, depending on its manufacturer and age, may have different features as well as all of the above.

This is why it is always advisable to thoroughly read through your owner’s manual before operating your wood stove for the first time so that you can be thoroughly familiar with all of its parts and how they function.

About the Author Jamie

I'm an English teacher and writer. I'm passionate about the environment and love the tiny house movement!

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