How to Build a Proper Fire

One of my favorite things about the cooler months of the year is spending time next to a warm, cozy fire.  The crackling wood and radiant heat just soothe my innards like nothing else ever has.  Question: What’s more romantic that snuggling up with your significant other in front of a glowing fire? Answer: nothing!  Question: What’s more relaxing than coming home from a long day at the office, sitting in your favorite chair, and unwinding next to a glowing fire?  Again, see previous comment and answer!  For those of you who have never started a fire in a fireplace or those of you who want a quick refresher course, this blog’s for you. Let’s take a look at how to build a fire.

When you build a fire, you want it to burn evenly and last all night. To have this, you must build it with intention.

When you build a fire, you want it to burn evenly and last all night. To have this, you must build it with intention.

Before starting a fire in your fireplace, you’ll first want to ensure that your damper is open; a fireplace requires a large amount of air after all.  Once this is done, you’ll want to ignite a fire-starter brick, some newspaper, or dry kindling in the center of your fireplace grate.  This will ensure that the hot air begins funneling its way up the chimney and not back into your house.  Before adding any wood, it is important to remember to never overload your firebox, as this will not allow the requisite amount of combustion air to flow around the wood.

Next, place one log, lengthwise, behind the starter and another one in front of it.  When those two pieces of wood catch fire, place a log diagonally across them.  This setup will help to encourage combustion air to flow around all three logs, which is critical for an even burn.  To maintain proper airflow, regularly remove ashes from your fireplace into a metal container with a cover; many homeowners will keep these containers outdoors, which is a great idea since it removes a potential fire hazard from the home.

My grandfather used to have a saying about his fireplace, and it will stick with me for the remainder of my life: “Fireplaces are like children.  They need to be watched at all times.”  I like to think he was pretty accurate with that comparison.  Properly arranging the wood in your fireplace and providing it with enough space for air to flow around the logs is critical to allowing you to get the most out of your fire.  By following a few simple steps, you, too, can have a roaring fire in your fireplace this heating season.

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