There’s nothing quite like coming home on a cold winter’s evening to a roaring fire. It provides a welcoming warmth, a cosy ambience and an excellent focal point for your home. Despite these benefits, lighting a fire, however, can often prove to be difficult.
If you’ve never started a fire in a fireplace, or often have problems doing so, this guide will take you through five simple steps on how to light a fireplace both quickly and efficiently so you’ll never experience any problems again.
What you need
Firstly, before you start the lighting process, it’s important to clear the fireplace area. So, make sure that all flammable materials such as books, magazines, clothing, and other home decor items are all well away from the fireplace. Also, if you have a mantel, check that nothing is hanging from it.
It’s equally important to clean the air in the room where your fireplace is located. The room needs to be properly ventilated so it’s free of any potentially flammable fumes and gases. Once you’ve carried out these precautions, you can move onto starting the lighting process.
When you’re ready to start lighting your fire, place a couple of medium or large-sized logs on the bottom of the fireplace. It’s important that these logs are split and dry, and positioned roughly 6-10 inches apart.
Ideally, they should be positioned perpendicular to the fireplace opening. These larger logs will be the bed of the fire and contain the embers that’ll keep it going.
Next, crumple a couple of sheets of newspaper (tinder) in between the two pieces of firewood on the bottom of the fireplace. Then, cover the newspaper with a couple of layers of kindling in a grid-like formation, leaving plenty of space in between for ventilation. Avoid the temptation of putting any larger logs on top at this stage.
Be mindful that using sheets of newspaper will produce an unnecessary amount of ash and contribute to more soot. Because of this, many people prefer to use firelighters which can be placed on top of the layer of kindling wood. Firelighters also burn at a steady rate, unlike newspaper sheets which can differ depending on their condition when burned.
Once you’ve compiled your formation, it’s the easy bit - lighting the fire. Do this by applying a lit match to either the crumbled newspaper or the firelighter. Some chimneys take longer than others to create a good draft, so sometimes it’s useful to open a window until the fire starts properly burning.
With the fire firmly established, add extra firewood as and when required. If you’re watching a film or playing a board game, it’s useful to set up the fire to last a while so you won’t have to constantly tend to it.
To do this effectively, there first needs to be glowing red embers beneath the fire. If there is, you can add a large, thick piece of wood on top. Just make sure you place the wood carefully and that it’s evenly balanced.
This bigger piece of wood will take a while to catch fire, but once it does, it’ll burn for a long time, giving you plenty of time to fully relax and not have to worry about moving the contents of the fire around. The glowing embers at the bottom of the fire will also keep the room warm and cosy.
As mentioned above, make sure the logs are secure in the fireplace. Most fireplaces will have a protective piece at the front to prevent any of the larger logs from falling out. If, for whatever reason, you have to leave the fire unguarded for a short period of time, it’s safe practice to place a guard in front of it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the most effective way to stack wood in a fire?
Stacking wood properly in your fireplace is one of the most important considerations when it comes to effectively lighting a fire. A key ingredient in any fire is sufficient air movement. To put it simply, fire needs air in order to remain lit - so starving it of oxygen will simply cause it to smolder and burn out.
Therefore, wood needs to be stacked in a way that allows for plenty of ventilation. A good method of achieving this is to stack split logs in an opposite way to your kindling wood, creating plenty of space between each individual log. Importantly, don’t try and overload your fireplace too quickly - it’s best to start with either two or three logs.
How do you safely put a fire out?
The best method of doing this is to stir the wood down in your fireplace at least half an hour before you want it to go out. An effective method is to use a poker to break up the ingredients of the fire and spread them out as much as possible over the area of the fireplace. The thinner you’re able to spread them, the quicker it’ll go out.