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The Best Tips to Light a Fire in Your Fireplace

It’s kind of ironic that we see fires on the news burning up buildings and forests, yet we struggle to get the logs in our fireplace lit and burning fiercely.  Well, there’s nothing to worry about.  All you need to do is follow a few simple guidelines, and you’ll get great fires every time.

A clean chimney

A chimney that’s full of obstructions won’t draw sufficient air into the firebox to allow for a fire to easily start and burn efficiently.  Obstructions can include debris from outside as well as a buildup of creosote, which forms when smoke condenses in the flue.  Having your chimney professionally cleaned is the first step toward great fires.

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Prime the flue

Before starting a fire, it’s a good idea to add a little warmth to the cold air within the chimney.  Just light a tightly rolled-up newspaper and hold it for a few seconds in the flue just past the damper opening.  This won’t make your fire any better, but it can prevent a backdraft of cold air from sweeping in.

Use dry wood

When wood has not dried completely, burning it will create a lot of steam that will prevent the fire from fully taking over.  In addition, excess smoke from wet wood leads to much more flammable creosote that could start a chimney fire.  Dry wood ignites quickly and burns hot, making for a beautiful fire.  Test logs by looking at their ends and making sure the wood is cracked and dry.  Also, whack two logs together and listen for a distinctive pop rather than a dull thud.

Stacking the logs

When stacking your logs, remember that sufficient air is required to create a roaring fire.  Don’t pack the firebox with too much wood.  And make sure the logs are loosely stacked so that air can get into the stack and around all the logs.

Building the fire

Here’s one method for building the perfect fire.  Start with a shallow ash bed on the floor of the firebox to add insulation to the fire.  Then place the biggest logs on the grate with smaller logs on top of them.  Finally add kindling and/or balled-up newspaper on the very top and let the fire gradually burn downward.  This method will result in the most efficient burns and cause you to spend less time tending the fire.

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What not to burn in your fireplace

If you follow the guidelines above, you’ll build great fires without the need for any materials that never should be used in a wood burning fireplace.  These include:

  • Pressure-treated wood, plywood, particle board, press board
  • Kitchen trash
  • Plastic of any kind
  • Christmas trees
  • Glossy colored paper, like from magazines
  • Any kind of accelerant such as lighter fluid, kerosene and gasoline

Now that you know how to build a great fire, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy it.

When it’s time for a new fireplace, heating stove or fireplace insert, you can see the best models on the market at the FyrePro showroom at 4631 S. Mason St. Suite B5 in Fort Collins, CO.  We’ll help you select the perfect new appliance to match your needs and decorative taste.  Questions?  Call us at (970) 266-8556.