A roaring, crackling fire is a great way to unwind, relax, and catch up with your family, and it’s been the favorite backdrop for a good book for hundreds of years, too. If you’re struggling to light a fire, or if you just want to do it as efficiently as possible, the three pro tips for lighting a fire in your fireplace below will help.
#1 – Prepare the Fireplace and Chimney Correctly
Before you even get started lighting your fire, it’s important to make sure everything is ready to go. Ideally, you should call a professional chimney sweep to clean and inspect your chimney. Once you’ve been given the go-ahead and everything has been deemed clean and in good working order, open the chimney damper all the way. If your chimney is outside your house, you should also prime the flue by lighting a piece of newspaper and holding it in the damper opening for a few minutes. This will warm the flue and prevent cold air from sinking down into your fireplace.
#2 – Use the Right Wood
This is another important tip since using the wrong wood can cause a variety of issues. All too often, homeowners attempt to burn wood that is still green or hasn’t been seasoned. Doing this creates steam that chokes out your fire, and aside from this, it also promotes the buildup of a dangerous creosote glaze in your chimney. This glaze is highly flammable, and it can easily start a chimney fire that could spread to your home.
Seasoned wood has been dried for at least six months, and there are two different methods for testing it. The first is to look at the ends of the wood and make sure it appears cracked and dry. The second is to take two pieces of the wood and smack them together, listening for a distinctive “ring”. If you don’t see the cracks, and if you don’t hear the ring, you probably shouldn’t burn this wood in your fireplace.
#3 – Build the Best Fire
To build the best possible fire for a fireplace, first create a slight ash bed about an inch deep. This insulates the fire and helps it burn hotter, which in turn improves efficiency. (Do not make a bed of more than two inches as this can actually choke the fire.) Then, place the largest pieces of seasoned wood at the bottom – on top of the fire grate above the ash – and put smaller pieces of wood on top. Finally, add your kindling twigs, and then put newspaper and other tinder on the very top. Light the fire at the top and allow it to slowly burn its way down to the larger pieces of wood.
Building a fire in this manner allows it to burn as efficiently as possible. Lighting it at the top prevents smoke from filtering through cold wood, so it’s far cleaner. What’s more, because the tinder burns into the kindling and the kindling into the logs, you will need to do very little to keep it going, allowing you to just sit back, relax, and enjoy the amazing comfort your fireplace can bring.