How to build a long-lasting fire

Having a fireplace is something that may homeowners aspire to. Curled up around the crackling fire on a cosy evening sounds like the perfect night-in but building a fire can sometimes stump some people. Keeping a fire alive the whole evening is a skill, and there are many processes that go into it. For your guide on building a long-lasting fire in your wood burning stove, follow these tips…

What you will need

Before you can even think about building your fire, there are a selection of things you’ll need. Gathering your equipment before starting your fire will ensure that you’re not scrabbling around for items when you’re on the verge of your fire catching! You will need

  • Dry wood
  • Newspaper
  • Kindling or fire starters
  • Matches or a lighter
  • Fire poker
  • Fire guard

Having this equipment in your arsenal will set you up for a roaring fire!

Prep your fireplace

Your fire won’t be the best it can be unless you properly prepare your fireplace. Give your fire its best chance, and take these simple steps before starting to build your fire:

Clean your ashes

Having too many ashes left over from your previous fire can hinder the burn of your new flames. Ensure the right amount of ash is in your fireplace, which is usually around one inch. Carry on checking the ash in your fireplace to stop a large build up.

Check your damper

While most wood burners don’t have a damper, some open fires do. If you have one, check that it is fully open by shining a light up the chimney. If it is closed, or partially open, then you will have smoke coming into your room.

Open a window

This one may sound a little strange, but bear with us. Fire needs oxygen. Cracking open a window slightly will give it the fuel that it needs and give your fire the ‘oomph’ that will make it the centre of attention. With today’s insulation and draft-proofing, there is not much air circulation, and trickle vents won’t do the trick. To avoid a smoky, sluggish fire, crack open a window.

Prime the flue

Your chimney flue will be cold. Trying to light a fire while cold air is sinking down will only push smoke into your room – that’s exactly what you want to avoid! There is a very easy way of fixing this… Roll up some newspaper and light it, holding it up the damper for a while. You will know when it’s warm enough – you will feel the draft reverse.

Building your fire

Now that you’ve learned the steps of preparing your wood burning fireplace, it comes to the time to build your fire. There are a variety of methods when it comes to the arrangement of logs and the order of assembly, and working out which method works for you will be an experiment in trial and error. Here are some of your options:

Tee-pee method

  • Place newspaper under your grate
  • Arrange your kindling in a criss-cross formation
  • Light the paper in a couple of places, making sure it all catches alight
  • Keep the flames going until the kindling catches fire – you may have to replenish with new pieces of newspaper

Now add your logs. Place your dry pieces of wood on top of the kindling in a tee-pee formation, so that air can travel in between the pieces. You may have to use your fire poker to get the logs into a position which exposes them to enough fire to catch alight. Keep topping up your firewood to make sure your fire burns and your flames thrive!

The upside-down method

  • Stack your larger logs on the bottom of the grate
  • Add the smaller logs on top
  • Place a layer of kindling on top of the smaller logs, typically smaller sticks or twigs
  • Scrunch up some old newspaper or other tinder (make sure it’s dry and shredded for maximum effect)

Once you have built your stack, it’s time to light it. Light it from the top and within 15-20 minutes you will have a roaring fire. An upside-down fire works by preventing the fire that you started with your tinder and kindling from passing through colder logs, which will lead to smoke. This will give you a cleaner-burning fire. You can sit back and enjoy the flames without being smoked out or having to do too much to keep it going! Just add occasional logs as you need to.

Factors for a successful fire

There are some prime criteria that your fire could meet in order for it to burn like never before. Peruse this list to see the steps you can take to give your fire the best chance of staying ablaze!

Choose the right wood

A non-resinous, hard wood will give you the best results. These hard woods burn for longer and release lower amounts of smoke. Materials such as oak, ash or maple are the best woods for a grand fire.

Keep up the air flow

As we’ve covered, fire needs oxygen to burn! Keep your window cracked open and ensure that when you add new logs they aren’t too densely stacked. Poking them with your fire poker will encourage air flow.

Dry out your wood

If your logs are still slightly damp when you burn them, it can create a myriad of problems. They can take longer to catch fire, produce much more smoke, release less heat, and create an unpleasant smell!

What to avoid when fire starting

When building a fire, there are some things that are a big no-no! Doing these things could hinder your fire from burning magnificently.

Avoid adding wood quickly

If you add larger pieces of your wood too quickly, you could risk suffocating your fire. Those heavier, big logs could be too bulky for the fire and could restrict the air flow, causing it to go out.

Avoid using gasoline

If you’re looking around for a fire starter and you find some gasoline, don’t use it! Gasoline should never be used to feed a fire – it is extremely unsafe to use, especially in a domestic setting.

Avoid leaving your fire unguarded

You should always protect your fire with a safety guard. This helps to contain the fire if it should spit flames at you – this protects your family, and decreases the risk of the fire spreading to your rug.

For more knowledge on how to build the perfect fire, along with a new wood burning stove and gas or electric fireplaces, come to Fiveways Fires & Stoves. For our services, give us a call on 0208 127 4747 or email . We’ll be happy to help!