The Easiest Way to Start a Fire in a Fireplace

Fireplace weather is fast approaching. A hearth fire is a good way to add cozy warmth to your home, but if lighting a fire in a fireplace seems like such a problem that you only do it once a year, you are putting too much effort into it. Here are some strategies to help make it less difficult so you can enjoy that unique, warming glow inside and out.

Prepare the fireplace

Before you start lighting your fire, you need to prepare your fireplace for the season. First, have your chimney professionally checked and cleaned for safety. Once this is done, it’s time to prime the chimney – if the chimney is full of cold air, it will be difficult for it to bring warm air outside, so it is important that the air flow is moving in the right direction. This can be done by opening the chimney, lighting a piece of newspaper and holding it under the chimney opening. You will know the process is working when you feel the wind going up the chimney.

Start a fire right from a good foundation

Making a good fire is all about airflow. The base of your fire should create space for air to circulate and fuel the fire to spread out. Outdoors, many professionals collect the logs around the kindling in a pointed tent, but indoors it is advisable to use a shorter profile. Placing two logs parallel to each other with a space between them for kindling in a grate or fireplace floor will give you the bones you need for a good fire. Place a crumpled newspaper between the logs to serve as tinder. Add some wood on top, then place a couple more logs on top of the foundation, leaving space for air to penetrate between the layers.

Start with dry wood

If you’re still struggling to light a fire, your wood may be too damp, even if it feels dry to you. Make sure you get your firewood from dry, seasoned logs that have been dried for at least one season. If your wood is damp, you can try bringing it inside to dry it a little before using it, but it is better to take wood that has dried longer. Stay away from wood containing pine needles or a lot of resin as this can cause dangerous build-up in the chimney.

Use a fire starter

If all you have is damp wood, you can still start the fire using a fire-starting product such as a log or processed kindling. These foods are easy to ignite, burn hot and long enough to lighten hard woods. Check your product label to make sure it is safe for indoor use, as some firelighters designed for grilling or campfire may not be safe for indoor use.

Take care of your hearth

If you have a fire spewing, it will take a little work to keep it going, especially at the beginning. Taking care of the fire to ensure an adequate flow of air and fuel is critical to maintaining it. With more air flow, the wood will burn faster, and with less air, it will burn slower and hotter. This means it needs a lot of air to get started, but as your fire gets hotter, burning the wood a little slower will make it feel warmer (which you probably want in the middle of the cozy season). If a lot of ash has accumulated at the base of the fire, use a poker to clear it out to oxygenate the fire and keep you warm throughout the evening.

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