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How to Keep Your Wood Stove From Getting Too Hot (7 Tips)

Wood stoves are supposed to get hot… but not so hot that they make sitting near them uncomfortable. 

Here are 7 ways to keep your wood stove from getting too hot: 

  1. Open a window in the room the stove is in. 
  2. Blow cooler air in from another room. 
  3. Burn softwood instead of hardwood. 
  4. Make a smaller damper opening
  5. Build smaller fires. 
  6. Let the fire get low before adding more wood. 
  7. Add thermal mass around the stove. 

I’ll explain why each of these tips works and how you can best implement them below. I’ll also share a commonly used method that you shouldn’t do. Let’s get started. 

Open a Window in the Room the Stove Is In 

The room your wood stove is in feels so hot because the room size is too small for the power of your fire. 

I’ll discuss strategies for reducing your fire’s potency, but the simplest way to cool the space around your stove is to open a window. 

By opening a window, you’re allowing cold air to flow into the hot room

The amount of cold air outside of your home dwarfs the amount of hot air in your stove room, so opening a window will quickly bring the temperature down. 

Blow Cooler Air in from Another Room

If your stove room doesn’t have any windows – or if you don’t want the drastic temperature change that comes with opening a window – you can blow cooler air in from an adjacent room. 

The process is simple. Just set up a fan facing out of the colder room and point it so the air flows into your stove room. 

If the cooler room isn’t right next to your stove room, set up a couple of fans that direct the air down the hallway and towards your stove.  

The type of fan isn’t too important. All that matters is that it’s powerful enough to send a significant amount of air into your stove room. 

This method is especially useful if a nearby room has an air conditioner. However, if you don’t have an AC unit handy, you can use ice to cool your room as well. 

Burn Softwood instead of Hardwood 

Now that we’ve covered the simple methods that handle cooling the space around your stove, we can address the main issue: the power and temperature of your fire. 

There are a few ways to address this; the first is to use wood that provides a lower energy output. 

Softwood is not as dense as hardwood – a softwood log is about ½ the weight of a hardwood log of the same size. This means a softwood log would produce less energy than a hardwood log of the same size. 

The reason for this lower density is that softwood comes from faster-growing trees. Softwood trees like pine, fir, and spruce typically take decades less time to mature versus hardwood trees like oak and maple. 

Because there is less wood in a softwood log, it will produce less heat energy and make a cooler fire. 

A common misconception

A common misconception I see thrown around is that burning softwood is a bad idea because the resin it contains can cause a creosote buildup in your chimney. 

This myth does have its foundation in truth: softwood does cause creosote buildup if you don’t allow it to dry properly. But the same is true for hardwood. The difference is that it takes softwood a longer time to season and dry, so impatient or inexperienced stove users burn it before it’s ready. 

If you have softwood that is fully seasoned, burning it will produce a lower temperature fire than burning hardwood logs of similar size – without any negative effects. 

Make a Smaller Damper Opening

The damper is what controls the amount of oxygen your fire gets, and by proxy determines the size and temperature. 

Closing the damper to a sliver – I recommend less than ¼ open – will only allow enough oxygen for the fire to smolder. If you’ve got a big blaze going, making the damper opening smaller will quickly bring the heat down to a manageable level. 

Build Smaller Fires 

The main reason your wood stove is getting hot is because the fire is roaring. If you intentionally build a smaller fire, your heat problem will dissipate. 

I know it’s tempting to stuff the stove with as many logs as possible, but doing so will only make it hotter. 

To make it easier to build a smaller fire, I recommend chopping your wood into smaller pieces. 

Let the Fire Get Low Before Adding Wood 

If your fire is already roaring, adding more wood is only going to increase its energy output. 

To keep the temperature of your stove at a manageable level, let the fire burn down to coals before you add more wood. 

Add Thermal Mass Around the Stove 

According to YourHome.gov.au, thermal mass is “the ability of a material to absorb, store, and release heat.” 

Examples of materials with high thermal mass include concrete, brick, and water-filled containers.

Adding thermal mass around your wood stove is a great way to even out the stove’s heat output. 

Instead of a large fire blasting heat straight into your room, much of the heat will be absorbed by the thermal mass and will be released passively into the room. 

Here are a few effective ways you can add thermal mass around your stove: 

  • Place a concrete slab under the stove. 
  • Place containers of water around the stove. The bigger the better – try to get your hands on some of those water cooler jugs. 
  • Stack bricks around the sides and the back. 
  • Place a granite or soapstone slab on top of the stove – a stone countertop company can help with this. 

Why You Shouldn’t Burn Green Wood 

One tip I see thrown around is that burning green wood will result in a less powerful fire. 

This is true. However, burning green wood, or any wood that is not sufficiently dried, is a bad idea. 

Although it produces less heat than dry wood, it also produces more smoke and more creosote. 

More creosote in your flue means more frequent chimney cleanings and a higher chance of a chimney fire. 

Burning green wood to make your stove cooler is not worth the expense or risk, especially when there are so many safer ways to bring the temperature down. 

Final Thoughts

If you’re in need of a quick solution for a wood stove that’s getting too hot, some easy options include opening a window, blowing cold air in, making the damper opening smaller, and building smaller fires. 

If you want a more permanent solution, switch to burning softwood or add thermal mass around your wood stove.