Our fireplace is where we all hang out in the winter. During the week we have a fire every morning and every evening and on the weekends, all day long. The warmth it provides means we run the heater way less which I am a big fan of. The heater is expensive, bad for the environment and dries out my skin.
I’ve watched several friends try and build fires over the years and it inspired me to create this post on hour to build a fire in a fireplace. Building a fire is simple, but it’s nuanced. You need to make sure you have the right wood, you stack it in a way that allows it to burn properly and you have the right tools to keep it burning.
Below we share all of our tips and tricks to starting and keeping a fire going.
Fire Making Materials
Before you start building your fire, make sure you have all the necessary materials.
How to Start a Fire in Your Fireplace
You can see the video of how JJ places our kindling and firewood on Instagram.
- Clean out ash build up.
- Open the damper.
- If you are using kindling as your fire starter, stack it on top of the grates. Kindling should be very dry and cut very thin so it will light easily.
- Place two pieces of wood on the grate, parallel to each other. If you are using a gas lighting fireplace, make sure you place the wood across the fire line.
- Place two more pieces of firewood, parallel to each other, that crossover the two bottom pieces of wood. You are creating a hashtag (#) with the wood.
- Light the gas or the kindling and enjoy a warm and cozy fire.
If the fire doesn’t take off, add more kindling and keep adding until it gets hot enough to light the logs. If the wood is even slightly damp, it will require a bit more upfront work and kindling.
What type of firewood should I buy?
Different parts of the country offer different types of firewood. In whatever state you live, buy hard firewood that burns clean. Types of hardwood include maple, oak, ash, birch, eucalyptus and most fruit trees. Hardwood is denser and has low resin count. It burns cleanly, puts off a greater amount of heat and has a slower burn time.
Avoid soft woods such as cedar and pine. Soft wood burns fast and pops a lot. I love the sound of the popping but not the burn holes on my rugs.
Buy firewood that has been cut and drying for at least one year. If the wood is still wet or even slightly damp it won’t burn and it will be very smoky.
Tip: Typically the bundles you buy at a grocery store are soft wood. It will burn very quickly.
Fire Building Tips
- Two of the best places to find local firewood and delivery are Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace.
- Oxygen is a fire’s best friend. So the firewood needs to have a little space in between each piece to keep the fire burning.
- As the firewood burns down you will need to keep adding pieces on top to keep the fire going.
- Always have lots of kindling around. It’s the solution to almost every problem you will come up against in fire building.
- The more firewood in the fireplace the faster and hotter it will burn. Add more or less wood to maintain a comfortable temperature in your room.
- Never leave a fire unattended.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies.
- Make sure the damper is open to allow smoke to escape.
- Keep flammable objects away from the fireplace.
- If your fire is not burning properly, there may be a few reasons why. Here are some common issues and how to fix them:
- If the fire is not starting, add more dry kindling.
- If the fire is not burning evenly, use your fire tools to adjust the wood and make sure there is enough air flow. Fires need oxygen so give space between the logs.
- If the fire is producing too much smoke, make sure the damper is open and that the wood is dry. If the wood is damp and causing smoke the way to combat that is more heat. Add more kindling.