Are wood-burning stoves safe?

Wood-burning stoves are great for keeping you feeling warm and toasty on cold evenings and during the winter, but are they hazardous to your health?

The answer to the question ‘are wood-burning stoves safe?’ is somewhat complicated. It all
depends on the quality of the stove you’re using, its ability to exhaust fumes from your home, and whether it’s been installed correctly. Let’s take a closer look at this below.

Are wood-burning stoves safe?

If you buy a correctly certified and regulated wood-burning stove, and it is installed correctly
by an experienced team then it should be safe to use as regularly as one would like. A
Carbon Monoxide detector should always be present in the same room as the stove. 

Sometimes in bad weather such as stormy weather or heavy mist, the efficiency of the draw
from the flue or chimney can be affected for a short period, and you may notice that the
smoke is circulating more inside the stove and smoke comes out when the door is opened.
Once the heat builds in the system the draw should improve so be persistent with it. But, if
this is a regular occurrence even on clear days with a good breeze, then it is best to seek
advice as the Flue/Liner may need to be swept, or a change of cowl to something like a
Rotary Cowl may be required to improve draw.

rotary cowl for wood burning stoves
Rotary Cowl to improve poor smoke draw.

Wood burning stoves: safety considerations

Wood-burning stoves are more efficient and safer than open fires due to the fire and smoke
being enclosed and being directly connected to the Flue pipe or Liner. They are better able
to channel the flow of air out through the flue, reducing smoke exposure, and they reduce
the risk of an uncontrolled fire. As a result, practically anyone can now safely burn logs in
their homes.

Noxious fumes

When a stove is lit for the first time, it will give off a smell which is the stove paint curing.
Keep the stove lit and running well with the windows open and this smell should pass within
a couple of hours. 

If the stove is not used very often, then a smell may be given off as the system gets hot and
the draw improves. It is advised again to open a window until the stove is up to temperature
and the smell has stopped. If the problem persists, then a sweep and service may be
required to ensure the Flue/Liner has not been blocked by debris such as birds dropping
twigs, or a dirty liner/flue pipe. Too much moisture in the system may also cause a smell as it
dries out from the heat. It is vital to use dry wood as wet wood will cause the system to fur up
and damage the life of the liner or flue pipe.

Risk of burns and fire damage

In terms of heat generation, wood-burning stoves can pose the risk of burns by direct contact
with either the casement or glass, therefore caution should be taken when refueling your
appliance. Use the manufacturer’s heat proof glove or a suitable oven glove to operate the
controls and door handle.

Even so, stoves are considerably safer than open fires and negate the need for a fireguard
unless preventing small children or animals from touching the stove. Read more about the
different types of fire guards and other common safety regulations you should take.

Added to this, the fire inside the stoves is easier to control. If you want to change the burn
rate, you can simply adjust the air supply, increasing or reducing the amount of oxygen in
the chamber. For best heat output, get the stove up to temperature and then close the air
vents at the bottom using the controls. This will ensure that the heat is retained within the
stove and sent into the room, as opposed to the heat being drawn up the Chimney/Flue


Provided you choose a quality stove and it is installed correctly, it can be extremely safe. If you’re worried about children touching them while in use, fit a protective surround. Submit an inquiry today at Caledonian Stoves for a free quote. If you have similar questions to ‘are wood-burning stoves safe?’, we’re more than happy to answer them.