Starting a fire is not as simple as it might seem. There are some precautions and methods you should use to make sure lighting the fire is always safe and effective. At the same time, we can’t forget the usual cares for cleaning and maintaining the fireplace to make sure it keeps working at full power, but always safe from fire hazards.

Here’s what you need to know to always start a fire the right way!

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you. – Walt Whitman

Always clean the fireplace before starting

Cleaning is super important for fireplace. Source: House Beautiful
Cleaning is super important for fireplace. Source: House Beautiful

After every fire has been put out for the night, you will have a considerable amount of ashes and debris in the fireplace. It’s important to clean those out before starting a new fire – the best way is to simply sweep them out or vacuum the ashes for disposal.

Keep in mind though, the ashes should be cold when you’re handling them. Be sure they’re not still hot when you start cleaning to prevent burning yourself or setting fire to cleaning materials.

Finally, it’s also important to clean the damper. It’s a movable plate that sits above the fireplace, used to keep it shut when not in use. Make sure the damper is working and not being blocked by any debris before starting a fire.

Use balls of newspaper under the grate

While you should never burn newspaper directly onto the fire (since they ignite really quickly and can fly up your chimney), you can safely stock some newspaper balls under the grate to help in kindling.

Pick the right wood

Dense wood is better for fireplaces. Source: Home Edit
Dense wood is better for fireplaces. Source: Home Edit

Dense wood (like oak) is better for fireplaces, since they burn for way longer and make for a more consistent and controllable fire. The wood chunks should be split in half and stored in a dry place.

Arranging the wood should be no trouble. You can use the usual triangle setup most people go for, but also set up two logs vertically and then two more logs on top of those but vertically – like a little cabin. Either way will work.

Add kindling

Kindling are thin and dry strips of wood used to start the fire. Add the kindling at the very bottom of the grate in a lengthwise pattern and ignite the newspaper under it to start the fire.

Control the amount of wood you’re using to keep the fire controllable and fairly small. A large fire will produce more smoke and be harder to put out if you have to.

Use a fireplace guard

Always use a fireplace guard. Source: Family Handyman
Always use a fireplace guard. Source: Family Handyman

Once all of this business is done and the fire is burning properly, you need a fireplace guard. It’s usually a metal screen placed in front of the fire to make sure it doesn’t shoot hot embers outwards, which could hurt someone or ignite flammable materials. 

Always, always have a fireplace guard if you’re burning wood!

Use an igniter log

An igniter log is basically a shortcut to starting a fire right away. You can have at least one stored for when you want a fire started right away, but do follow the proper instructions to not burn yourself.

Need some help setting up your fireplace for the Winter? Talk to a chimney sweeping professional and get free quotes today!


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