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How To Stack Wood In A Fireplace

By Lawrence Macmillan August 15, 2021

Having a fireplace can be absolutely amazing, especially when you have a nice fire going to warm up the room and make you feel at home. The tricky part, of course, is to get the fire going properly! 

It might seem as though a fireplace is as easy to set up as just chucking in some logs and setting them on fire...but the truth is that it takes some minimal amount of skill. Placing and stacking the wood in a suitable way is key to ensure the fire lights up faster and stays on for longer with a stable and consistent flame.

And on top of that, stacking the wood in a fireplace the right way will also ensure that the logs of wood don’t crumble out of formation and fall out of the fireplace! 

There is also some science involved in the whole process. A fire needs heat, fuel, and oxygen. The heat is that initial spark or matches to set it alight, the fuel is the wood, and the oxygen comes from the air around it.

But this means that you need to stack the wood so that it is getting a good airflow! It’s very easy for a fire to drown, by not getting enough air into the middle bits of the stack of wood! 

But let’s take a more in-depth look at all these things, as well as how exactly you should stack wood in a fireplace.

Stacking wood in a fireplace

Stacking wood in a fireplace:

When stacking wood in a fireplace, you need to do so in a way that ensures the best and most effective fire possible, so that you don’t have to constantly rearrange the wood or intervene to keep the fire going. 

There are three main things you need to consider when stacking wood in a fireplace:

Stability

Stacking wood in a fireplace is usually done by collecting the kindling and logs, and placing them on top of each other in different formations so that they are stacked. However, this needs to be done in a stable way, or else the logs might end up falling down and the pile will essentially collapse.

This can be pretty dangerous if it happens while the fire is on, as a burning log or piece of wood could roll down out of the fireplace, and into the room, where it could become a significant fire hazard. 

You also need to take into account that while the fire is on, it will be consuming the wood that has been stacked. This means that the stack of wood will move as the fire burns, as logs will turn to ash. And the stability somehow needs to endure all of that process! 

Effectiveness

One of the main concerns, when stacking wood in a fireplace, is how effective it is going to be in regards to the fire. Depending on how you stack the wood, the fire will be bigger or smaller, faster to catch or slower, more enduring or quick to go out. So it’s pretty important to get it just right! 

If the wood is stacked too tightly together, then there will barely be any gaps for air to flow through. This means that not all the wood will get enough oxygen, meaning the fire might drown and go out. Or at the very least, it will have trouble spreading, and it will be small and weak. 

But if you stack the wood too far apart, then the fire will have trouble spreading from one piece of wood to the next, also making it weak and unable to properly come to life. 

Overall safety

Safety should always be the main concern when you’re dealing with fire, even if it’s just dealing with the step of stacking the wood. The way in which you position the wood and fuel for the fire will directly affect how the fire behaves. And although you want the fire to be strong and consistent, it’s important to ensure that it always remains under control in a manageable and safe way.

Step-by-Step instructions on how to stack wood in a fireplace

There are many different ways of stacking wood in a fireplace. However, we will focus on the main two: stacking wood for a traditional fireplace fire, and stacking wood for a top-down fireplace fire. 

How to stack wood for a traditional fireplace

This is the most common and conventional way to stack wood for a fireplace, and it causes the fire to start at the base, and then travel upwards through the stack of wood.

Here is a step-by-step guide: 

  1. Place the firestarter at the bottom, usually newspaper or firelighters. If you have a grate, you can place it underneath it. 
  2. Stack the kindling on top of the firestarter in a criss-cross formation. 
  3. Stack two or three small logs on top of the kindling, in a criss-cross formation, so that they are leaning against each other. 

How to stack wood for a top-down fireplace

This method is a sort of reverse from the traditional one, and it can be equally as effective.

Here is a step-by-step guide: 

  1. Place a row of large logs at the base. 
  2. Stack a few smaller logs on top of the large logs, also in a tightly packed row. They should be perpendicular to the layer of logs below them. (This will increase airflow).
  3. Arrange a layer of kindling on top, in a criss-cross pattern.
  4. Add the firestarter of your choice on top of the kindling. 

For both methods of stacking wood, make sure you are using logs that are dry and low in moisture, as they will catch fire a lot easier. 


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