How to Safely Use a Wood Burning Stove in your Tent

How to Safely Use a Wood Burning Stove in your Tent

Pavlo Lysyy September 10, 2021


When camping, a tent becomes a refuge from weather, that is it saves from moisture and wind. However, even a good sleeping bag and a reliable tent won't save you from the freezing temperatures. Therefore, lovers of nomadic recreation invent a variety of mobile heating systems. The simplest and most effective means to get a proper night rest is a stove.

Like any other equipment, the stove is selected according to two main criteria, which are the purpose of the tent and its size. In the first case, it is recommended to consider heating devices according to the following parameters: all-season camping tents, summer tents, fishing tents, and mountaineering tents. All these tents have their own requirements for heating and equipment. Thus, an ordinary tourist tent designed for outings in nature only in the spring and summer most probably will not have a special valve to install a wood burning tent stove. Winter tents are characterized not only by the presence of such an asset but also by a special insert made of non-combustible fabric with a hole for the chimney. The mountaineering tent is characterized by a low silhouette, so only equipment with minimal risk of carbon monoxide emission is applicable here.

The size of the tent means its capacity, the presence of several rooms, and of course, how many people it is designed for.

Why would you want to use a Wood burning Stove inside your Tent


Although, outwardly all tent wood stoves are very similar, they have a lot of differences: in the principle of operation, design and how to use a wood stove inside a tent

A wood stove is a much more common type of stove as compared to the gas one. The main advantage of wood stoves is an almost endless supply of fuel. As opposed to that, the gas one will work until the gas cylinder runs out.

Wood-fired stoves are universal. They use wood of any quality and quantity. In order to make a fire, usually pre-prepared and dried fuel is used. Later in the process of burning, local resources such as dried wood and brushwood are used.

Such tent stoves are also used as cooking stoves. You can heat canned food and make tea on them. Heat output of such a device is quite high, because it is made of thin sheet metal which quickly heats up and actively gives off heat.

However, this type of wood burning stoves for tents also has some disadvantages. First of all, it is a large size of the furnace itself, pipes, and for normal operation they need at least 2.5 meters. In addition to pipes, the set should also include such a device as a spark arrester.

But the biggest disadvantage of this type of heater is their safety. First of all, it is recommended to pay attention to models with a wide and stable basis. Tent stove should also have additional protective screens that shield from burning. A flue pipe must have airtight connections to prevent smoke and gases from entering the tent. However, the greatest danger is not the heat but carbon monoxide. So, wood stoves do not guarantee a carefree stay and demand lots of attention about tent wood stove safety.

Careful installation - follow all manual instructions

In order to have a safe and pleasant experience when using a wood stove, prepare a place to set up the structure. The camping stove should not be placed near the walls of a canvas tent, so as not to cause a fire. The stove needs a special place and good support in the form of a central stake (inside a tent), a ridge rope or extendable legs. A special place inside your tent is reserved for firewood.

According to the manufacturer's instructions, first, the firebox, the stand, and then the chimney are assembled. It is important that the pipes are connected tightly - make a small effort to get them into the flared part to the stop. After the assembly, check the degree of tightness. You need to build a little fire and check if the smoke comes out in places not intended for it. If you find any - fix it. Do not ignite the  tent stove at full power if you have not checked the tightness of a small fire.

 First Usage, Operation, and Adjustment of Tent Stove Jack


The first time you light the tent stove should happen outside because the paint and galvanized pipe will smoke and stink. If you light up the stove inside the tent, it is best to do that two hours before bedtime to get all the smoke out. Do not use the water heater for the first time while the paint is burning. Do not make a strong fire. Leave the chimney flap half open and let the heater burn. After about an hour, the stove will burn. Never stoke the heater until it is red, this will shorten its life. Never pour cold water, snow or ice on a hot heater.

You can use almost any wood for cooking or heating: firewood, fuelwood, wormwood, and you can also burn trash. However, try not to use wood with tar, this will clog the chimney and oven faster. Usually creosote (a colorless or yellow-green, flammable, water-insoluble oily liquid with a strong odor and a burning taste, which is a mixture of phenols) settles in the bottom of the stove at night, when the temperature is not high enough to burn all the contents of the stove and go out through the chimney. To burn off all the creosote, it is enough to melt the stove well a couple of times a day (just don't get it too hot). Type, size, amount of wood, amount of ash, amount of air, location of the pipes and the weather will all affect the performance of your stove. If you are having trouble with your stove, try different types of wood or other materials and find the best one. If you want to burn the stove at night, put large woods and fill the rest of the space with small ones until the stove is full. Leave the chimney flap 1.8 inches (4.5 cm) open. You can also close the damper on the chimney completely.

After using the heater for a while, you will know all of its functions and understand how best to use it. After using the stove for some time, the door may not close all the way. To fix this you will need high temperature automotive silicone, solvent (to degrease) and some oil. Wipe all around the perimeter (around) of the door - 1.5 inches, and then apply a thin layer of silicone. Cover the silicone with a thin layer of oil on the door frame where the silicone will fit. When the silicone has turned into a film, but not yet cured, close the door to the latch. The oil keeps the silicone from sticking to the metal. When the silicone dries, it should eliminate any leaks.

You can also use the water heater on a wood stove. The water heater should always be full. If you take hot water from it, then add cold water. If the water level is very low and the fire is very hot, the water heater wall may melt. Also, sometimes the lid may open because of a lot of steam if the water heater is half full. So fill it up or put something heavy on the lid. If the water heater is closer to the wall of the tent, more heat will be inside of a tent. If the water heater is closer to the center of the tent, more heat will leave the tent. If you don't need warm water, you may not hang the water heater, there will also be less humidity and steam in the tent.

Essentials for Tent Stoves

A tent is a common fabric that burns well. Therefore, to be safe, prevent ignition and burns. The following rules should be followed:

    1. If the tent is not of heat-resistant fabric, heating with a fire base should not be used.
    2. Use the stainless steel stove only for its purpose. Do not dry things on it. And check in the manual if there is a function for simultaneous space heating and cooking. If not, take it out of the tent. And when the cooking is finished, heat the tent.

A spark arrester in the chimney will prevent accidental fires. If there is no spark arrestor in the design, you should install the flue pipe so that it does not go through the roof of the tent (vertically), but through any of its walls (horizontally). In addition, a horizontal pipe noticeably improves the heating of the air inside the shelter. This approach is especially relevant on frosty days, when every degree of precious heat counts.

  1. Sleep away from the stove, even if you want to get warmer. It is necessary in order not to accidentally knock the device over while you are sleeping.
  2. If you did not have a very reliable construction or made it with your own hands, and it turned out too flimsy, do not heat the tent. It is better to put a tent stove at a sufficient distance and keep warm in the evening, and before going to sleep or leaving, switch it off.
  3. Don't use the stove as a light, take an electric flashlight with you just in case.
  4. Don't melt wood with kindling, gasoline or other liquids.
  5. Ventilate the space so you don't get carbon monoxide poisoning.


Gloves protect you against burns and ensure safe operation of the stove. They also allow you to monitor the operation of the stove with maximum comfort and safety. 

Always keep a glove and pike pole nearby. The pole will help you move the burning logs, and you can use the glove to open or close the firebox door. Under no circumstances reach into the firebox with the burning wood with your hand, even if it is protected with a glove. Use only pole.

Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguisher is an essential element whenever a wood stove is used. Of course, it is advisable to have primary fire extinguishing equipment such as fire extinguisher, axe, burlap, pike pole, shovel, box with sand, bucket, and a container with water as well as the first aid kit with medicines for providing some first aid to victims of fires and poisoning (dressing material, ammonia alcohol.

Fireproof stove mat

A fireproof stove mat is used to protect the hot tent floor from heat and falling sparks. Such a mat is made of glass fabric with a silicone coating and has a working temperature range from -50 ° C to +280 ° C, and can withstand an open flame for a short time.

Silicone-coated glass fabric is used in the manufacture of fireproof barriers, welding partitions, thermal curtains, thermal covers, flexible joints, thermal gaskets, expansion joints, and protective overalls. This material is widely used when it is necessary to create a fireproof insulation layer resistant to high temperatures and aggressive environments, abrasion and moisture ingress.

In winter, wood burning tent stoves without a bottom screen often require additional support under the fireproof mat (e.g. plywood), which weighs much more than the bottom screen of the furnace.

In addition, accessories such as a scoop and bucket for cleaning up ashes, a pike pole for raking coals and turning firewood, and a broomstick for conveniently sweeping away burnt particles can be used to ensure proper safety when using a wood-burning stove. These stove accessories do not melt when exposed to high temperatures and do not break.


Health and safety considerations and precautions when using wood-burning stove

A traditional wood stove is not only a convenient and economical solution. It is also a risk that has to be reckoned with.

Furnace heating is done under constant supervision. When stoves are being stoked, it is forbidden to:

- Leave the tent stoves unattended;

- Use flammable liquids for firing up the stoves;

- Overheat the stoves;

- Dry clothes, fuel, and other materials on furnaces, chimneys and in their immediate vicinity;

- Leave the furnace door open during firing;

- Leave ash in the tent.

The risk of carbon monoxide poisoning when using a tent stove

The carbon monoxide problem is the main thing to watch out for! Just three breaths lead to severe poisoning, unconsciousness and even death!

Carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless, its concentration in the room increases gradually, and until the last moment, one hardly realizes the poisoning. Indirect signs of poisoning may be drowsiness, headache and dizziness. If you feel anything like that - immediately leave the tent and ventilate it.

The main reason for most tragedies is oversaturation of air with combustion products. It's easy enough to get burnt inside the tent. If there is no minimum ventilation of the space, the amount of oxygen in the inhaled air begins to decrease exponentially. To prevent this from happening, it is advisable to keep in mind the following rules:

  • Do not exaggerate with heating the space as fresh air must still get into the room;
  • It is advisable to periodically open doors or windows to let fresh air in;
  • If you feel slightly unwell (dizzy, short of breath, drowsy) get some fresh air immediately;
  • Do not leave the stove unattended for a long time;
  • It is undesirable to sleep inside a tent with the heater on.
  • Use a carbon monoxide sensor and smoke detector with an alarm. When a certain level of CO in the room is reached, the sensor will trigger and notify you with an audible alarm. This principle of operation allows you to use it at night while you are sleeping.

Of course, the dangers of wood stoves are exaggerated. It is possible to cause a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning in a house with gas heating, and get burned or injured because of a usual electric fireplace. Nevertheless, you should follow the safety rules to have a nice camping experience and enjoy the warmth of your portable wood stove inside a tent.


🏕  How to start a fire in a wood stove?

How to start a fire in a wood stove?
  • Follow these simple steps:

    1. Place the most massive logs on the bottom of your wood stove firebox.
    2. Form the second layer of medium logs atop the larger logs in a crisscross fashion.
    3. Likewise, lay the third layer of small logs atop the medium logs.
    4. Set fine kindling, for instance, wood splits and cardboard, on top of small logs.
    5. Place newspaper knots on top and ignite them with a long match or stick lighter.

📦  How to increase burn time in a wood stove?

How to increase burn time in a wood stove?
  • There are two things that help increase burn time. First, use hardwoods, for example, oak: it burns longer than softwoods like pine. Also, fully load the firebox of your stove.

💡  Can you burn pine in a wood stove?

Can you burn pine in a wood stove?
  • Yes. Every type of firewood can be burnt in a wood stove, pine being not an exception. However, keep in mind that the pine belongs to softwoods that are characterized by a shorter burn time than hardwoods.

❓  Can you burn pellets in a wood burning stove?

Can you burn pellets in a wood burning stove?
  • It depends on your stove. Read the manual to find it out. Pellets may cause damage to a stove due to high temperatures if the tent stove was designed for burning wood only.

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