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How To Start A Fire In A Fireplace

By Lawrence Macmillan October 25, 2021

Who doesn’t love a cozy, crackling fireplace?

Whether you’re curling up in front of the fire after a long day of work with your favorite cup of cocoa, or you’re planning a family get-together and want to create the perfect atmosphere - nothing helps to create an inviting ambiance quite like a lit fireplace can!

If you’ve never lit a fireplace before, though, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s as simple as taking a few logs of wood and lighting a match!

Lighting a fireplace takes plenty of know-how and a generous helping of skill, especially if you’re wanting to regulate the heat or reduce the number of times you’ll need to poke and prod with an iron.

Fortunately for you, we’re here to lend a helping hand!

Below, not only will you find all the tips and tricks you need to successfully light your own fire, but we’re also going to be providing you with two methods that you can alternate between, too.

So, ready to achieve the crackling fireplace of your dreams? You know what to do - just read on!

How To Start A Fire In A Fireplace: Preparation

First things first, before you even think about lighting a fireplace, you’re going to need to make sure that you’ve properly prepared it first.

To do so correctly, we recommend that you begin by considering getting your fireplace inspected by a chimney professional.

Many homeowners that own a fireplace usually tend to go down this route, as something that is known as “creosote” naturally builds up over time, and this is something that can make chimneys susceptible to catching on fire.

In addition to this, before you light the fire, it’s important to remember that you are opening up the fireplace damper, otherwise, you might find that high levels of smoke fill your room and become overpowering - which can be dangerous, not to mention damaging to your furniture.

It should also be noted that if your particular fireplace doesn’t feature a built-in grate, then we recommend that you purchase one separately and add it to your fireplace, as this will help to ensure safe air circulation, as well as a consistent flame that won’t require much prodding and poking.

Option One: Traditional, Top-Down Method

The first method we’re going to be talking you through is the top-down method. Considered to be the more traditional of the two, the top-down method is a simple and effective way to achieve a consistent burn.

Let’s take a look at the steps below so that you can try it out for yourself:

Step one: To begin, start by sorting all of the words you would like to use in categories of small, medium, and large.

Step two: Once you have gathered all of the pieces of wood you would like to use, proceed to line up all of the biggest logs on the bottom of the fireplace grate.

Step three: After you have lined up the largest logs across the bottom of the fireplace grate, take the medium logs you have and lay them along the top of the large ones already on the grate.

Step four: To finish, take the smallest logs that you set aside and place them over the top of the large and medium logs. To ensure optimum stability, make sure that the stack is no larger than half the height of your fireplace.

Step five: Then, light the fire directly from the top, sit back and enjoy the flames!

As soon as you have lit the fire, you will begin to notice that the smallest logs begin to drop hot embers down to the medium and large-sized logs.

This will help to achieve a longer draft that will give consistent oxygen to the fire, and in turn, maintain a consistent flame.

It is also widely considered that this method is able to create the most heat, as well as a much cleaner burn free from large plumes of dark smoke.

Option Two: Cabin Method

The next method that we’re going to be talking you through is the cabin method, which is a slightly newer alternative to the more traditional, top-down method.

If you’re interested in trying this one out to see if you prefer it, follow the steps below to safely and correctly light your fire using the cabin method:

Step one: Begin by taking two long, thin logs and place them on the very back of the fireplace.

Step two: Place twigs in between the two logs, ensuring that you have left around 6 inches of room.

Step three: Once you have done this, take two more additional logs and place them over the top of the first two. Then, if you like, you can go ahead and add another layer. 

Step four: Then, once you have done this, proceed to light the fireplace.

This method is deemed as being an easier and simple way to light a fire, which makes it a great option for those who are just starting out.

When a fire is lit in this way, many people report that they are able to enjoy a long-lasting, enjoyable flame that does not require much poking or prodding to keep alight.

Needless to say, it should be noted that many people find that the cabin method is not as effective in achieving a long-lasting burn in the way that the more traditional top-down method can due to the layout of the logs.

In addition to this, many people also find that the cabin method is also not as effective at achieving warmth, as the top-down method is able to evenly distribute good levels of heat for a long period of time.


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