How to Light a Fire in a Fireplace How to Light a Fire in a Fireplace
A fireplace can add cozy warmth to a home on a cold winter night. You can enjoy relaxing next to the fireplace by following a few key steps to building and starting a fire.
Step 1 - Gathering Tinder, Kindling and Wood
Three things you need to start a fire are tinder, kindling, and wood logs small and large. Newspaper makes good tinder because it’s readily combustible. Branches, twigs or wood shavings can be used for kindling. The fuel for your fire is hardwood logs. The best kinds of wood to use are oak, maple or cherry. Soft woods like pine create a large amount of creosote. The wood should be seasoned so it is dry. Seasoned wood is least a year old. Newly cut logs and wet wood will burn with a lot of smoke.
Step 2 - Preparing Fireplace for a Fire
- The fireplace should be free of ash and debris.
- The grate should be placed centrally in the fireplace.
- Check the damper and be sure that it is in the open position before adding anything into the fireplace. The damper is a lever that can be moved to open or close the flue.
- The flue is a pipe inside the chimney. An open flue allows the smoke from the fire to flow up the chimney to the outside.
- Look up the chimney to see which way the damper opens and closes.
Step 3 - Place Tinder
Tightly ball up 2 to 3 sheets of newspaper and place under the grate in the fireplace. Too much paper can cause excessive smoke. Do not use colored newspaper or wrapping paper because the ink, when burned, can release toxins.
Step 4 - Arrange Kindling
- Place kindling on top of grate.
- Arrange the kindling in a crisscross pattern with space in between the material to allow air to pass through.
Step 5 - Add Wood
- Position small wood logs horizontally over the kindling.
- Switch directions of the logs as you place another layer.
- Always keep space between the logs for air to circulate.
- Do not completely fill the fireplace with logs.
- You want just enough fuel to get the fire started and then more logs can be added to keep it going.
Step 6 - Light the Fire
Ignite the newspaper with a match or lighter. The lighted newspaper will spread to the kindling and logs.
Step 7 - Tending the Fire
Once the fire is established, maintain it by putting in bigger logs to keep it going. Occasionally, adjust logs with a poker to keep them burning.
Step 8 - Use a Fire Screen
Place a properly fitting fire screen in front of the fireplace to protect against flying sparks.
Step 9 - Letting the Fire Die
Break up the remnants of the burning logs with a poker. You can lightly spray water over the embers to help them die out. When the embers are no longer glowing, close the damper so heat doesn’t escape through the chimney.
Step 10 - Regular Fireplace Upkeep
Your fireplace and chimney should be thoroughly cleaned yearly to eliminate the build-up of creosote. If creosote isn’t removed, it can cause a chimney fire. It’s also important that your chimney is checked by a professional to ensure that there are no cracks that can result in a fire hazard.