World first: a wood-burning stove that lights itself

The self-igniting wood-burner by Esse
The self-igniting wood-burner by Esse

Say goodbye to matches, kindling and dirty hands. The world's first wood-burning stove has hit the market. Sharon Dale reports

Those who face a daily battle, down on their knees, trying to light their wood-burning stove with kindling, paper and matches will appreciate the latest high-tech invention set to revolutionise the industry.

Innovative stove and cooker maker ESSE has launched a wood-burner that lights itself at the flick of switch. The 160 year-old firm, based in Barnoldswick on the Yorkshire/Lancashire border, is the first to use the AutoBlaze system, which was devised by Matthew Statham.

The inventor and chartered engineer came up with the technology after trying in vain to light a barbecue “I remember my parents had a fantastic old firelighter made by GEC for open fires. I started to think how this could be integrated into a modern barbecue but realised it had limited potential," said Mr Statham. “Then came my lightbulb moment when I thought ‘what about wood-burning stoves?’”

His ignition system includes an element that can be heated to 500 plus degrees Celsius inside the wood-burner and blows hot air onto the wood to the point of combustion. It took three years to develop and is now part of the Esse 100 model, which costs £1,144.

You simply load your dry logs in front of the air jet, close the door, press the remote control or switch and the five to eight minute lighting cycle begins. As well as being clean and safe it is also a great solution for ‘cold flue" or poor draught installations. Mark Blewitt, sales director at ESSE, said: “The AutoBlaze system is clean and eco-friendly and we are the first manufacturer to bring it to market. The technology has been invented in Britain and as a proud British manufacturer we are delighted to be launching it.

“It delivers great benefits to stove owners, making lighting much easier and cleaner and it is particularly good for the elderly, who may not be able to get on their hands and knees to get their fire started. The AutoBlaze system also works to prepare the chimney by warming it, which helps improve the draw. It’s great user-friendly technology.”

ESSE stoves are hand crafted to order at the Ouzledale Foundry, Long Ing, Barnoldswick, which has has been hand-building stoves and cast iron cookers for more than 160 years. The firm’s cookers and stoves were used in the Crimean War by Florence Nightingale and in the Antarctic by explorers Scott and Shackleton.