Building A Safe Fire in Your Fireplace
If the warmth of a crackling fire in the fireplace brings back memories of camping under the stars, telling stories, and toasting marshmallows over an open fire. You’re in luck. Building a safe fire in the fireplace
is very similar.
There are three ingredients to building a fire: seasoned firewood, kindling, and tinder. One of the simplest ways to make a safe fire in the fireplace is called the top-down method. It works well for lighting wood-burning heating stoves, too.
- Sort out your wood logs into small, medium, and large groups.
- Lay a row of large wood logs across the bottom of the grate with the ends pointing towards the sides of the firebox.
- Now place a layer of medium-size logs on top of the large layer with the ends pointing towards the front of the firebox so that they are perpendicular to the bottom layer.
- Next, stack small logs on top perpendicular to the second layer of medium logs.
- For the tinder and kindling, stack some smaller leftover pieces of wood on top of your stack of logs. You can also use dried leaves, sticks, and twigs. Many homeowners prefer to add some tightly rolled-up newspapers on top because it is easy to light with a single match. Just be sure that the stack of wood and kindling is no more than half the height of the fireplace.
- The final step is to light a match and ignite the kindling. The fire will quickly spread from the top-down with a blazing fire that will keep you warm for hours.
In addition to the top-down method we just discussed, there is another foolproof way to build a safe fireplace fire. It’s called the Log Cabin method.
- Lay two thin logs with the bark removed (it makes the fire less smokey) in the firebox with the ends pointing towards the sides, so they are parallel to the back of the fireplace. Spread them about six inches apart.
- Place a bunch of kindling (dried twigs and newspapers) between the two logs.
- Next, lay two more logs on top with the sides pointing to the back of the fireplace perpendicular to the bottom layer.
- Add some more kindling on top of the layer.
- Next, add one more layer of logs perpendicular to the layer underneath.
- Add the final layer of kindling on top.
- The height of your stack of wood and kindling should not be more than half the height of your fireplace.
- Finally, light a match, ignite the kindling and enjoy the fire.
Burn Seasoned Firewood
When sourcing wood for your fireplace fire, ensure that it has been seasoned or dried for six months or longer. The lower moisture content in seasoned wood makes a long-lasting fire that burns hotter with less soot and creosote.
Chimney Inspection and Cleaning
Before lighting the first fire of the season, don’t forget to schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning to ensure your fireplace and chimney are safe and clean to operate. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) strongly recommends homeowners inspect their chimneys annually. A professional chimney sweep will examine the chimney’s structure and internal components for cracks, water damage, obstructions, and other deficiencies that may need repair. Also, creosote build-up is a fire hazard. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends chimney cleaning when there is 1/8 inch or more of creosote.