There’s nothing quite like relaxing with a warm fire at home. Whether you’re snuggling with someone special or just chillin with the family, a warm and cozy fire makes chilly winter nights so much more comfortable. But there’s an art to creating a great wood fire in your fireplace. And no, we’re not talking about electric fireplaces, either! We’re talking about the real thing, so if you’re wondering how to build a great wood fire in your fireplace, here’s how to do it:
HAVE A CLEAN CHIMNEY
You’ve had your chimney cleaned each year so there are no blockages, right? Without a clean chimney you may end up with a smoky house, or even a chimney fire. Having creosote buildup and any blockages removed is an important safety step, so if you’re behind on maintenance, schedule a cleaning before you build a wood fire.
ALWAYS OPEN THE DAMPER
Don’t forget to open your chimney damper so smoke can exit the home. Smoke inhalation is dangerous, and can be deadly. Your damper is probably closed when not in use, to prevent heat loss from the home.
PRIME THE CHIMNEY FLUE
When you start, your flue will be cold. After opening the flue, cold air from outside will sink into the chimney. If you light the fire during this air sink, you’ll end up with smoke inside your home.
If you have a fireplace that uses a gas pipe to supplement the fire, turn it on and light the pilot without any wood in there. Let the flue warm up before adding the wood. To prime it, light a roll of newspaper and then hold it up the opening for a few minutes. When you feel the draft is now going up, the flue is primed!
CREATE AN ASH BED
You’ll want a 1” to 2” ash bed in the fireplace to help insulate it for a hotter fire. If you don’t use your fireplace often enough to have an ash bed already, you can use ashes from your outdoor grill.
MAKE A FIRE UPSIDE DOWN
An “upside down fire” will burn longer than other fire structures. Don’t put the tinder and smaller kindling on bottom and the bigger fuel logs in a teepee shape on top like you’ve seen on tv. Create a square layer of big logs on the bottom, and then a layer of medium logs perpendicular to those, and smaller ones across the top. Finish it off with bunched up newspaper or other tinder and light with a match from the top. This fire needs very little maintenance and may also burn cleaner since smoke won’t need to pass through logs.
Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy your cozy and comfy fire!