Fireplace weather is fast approaching. A fire in the hearth is a good way to add cosy warmth to your home, but if starting a fire in the fireplace seems like such a hassle that you only do it once a year, you’re putting too much effort into it. Here are some strategies to make it less of a struggle, so you can get to enjoying that one-of-a-kind warming glow, inside and out.
Get your fireplace ready
Before you get started building a fire, your fireplace has to be made ready for the season. First, have a professional check and clean your chimney for safety issues. Once that’s done, it’s time to prime your flu — if the chimney is full of cold air, it will be hard for it to draft the warm air out, so it’s important to get the airflow moving in the right direction. This can be done by opening the flu , setting a piece of newspaper alight, and holding it under the opening of the flu. You’ll know the process is working when you can feel the breeze going up the chimney.
Start your fire off right with a good foundation
Building a good fire is all about airflow. The base of your fire should create space for air to circulate, feeding the fire to get it going. Outdoors, many experts arrange logs into a pointed tent shape around their kindling, but indoors, a shorter profile is wise. Placing two logs parallel to each other with a space in between for kindling in the grate or floor of the fireplace will give you the bones your need for a good fire. Place crumpled newspaper in-between the logs to serve as tinder. Top that with some wood kindling, then place a couple more logs over the top of the foundation, leaving space for air to penetrate in-between the layers.
Start with dry wood
If you’re still struggling to get the fire lit, it could be that your wood is too damp, even if it seems dry to you. Make sure that you’re sourcing your firewood from dry, seasoned logs that have been dried for at least one season. If your wood is damp, you can try bringing it inside to dry out some before you use it, but it’s best to get firewood that’s been dried for longer. Steer clear of wood containing pine needles or lots of pitch, as this can cause dangerous buildup in your chimney.
Use a fire starter
If all you’ve got is damp wood, you might still be able to get a fire going by using a fire starting product like a starter log or treated kindling. These products are easy to light and designed to burn hot and long enough to help light stubborn wood. Check the label of your product to ensure that it is safe for indoor use, as some fire starters that are designed for grills or campfires and might not be safe to use inside.
Tend your hearth
If your fire is sputtery, it will take some work to keep it going, especially to begin with. Tending your fire to make sure that it has enough airflow and fuel is crucial to keeping it going. More airflow will cause wood to burn faster, and less will cause it to burn slower and hotter.
That means that to begin with, lots of airflow is necessary, but as your fire gets hotter, burning your wood a little bit slower will make it feel warmer (which is probably what you want in the middle of cosy season). If lots of ash is building up at the base of the fire, use your poker to clear some of it away to keep your fire well fed with oxygen and keeping you warm all evening long.