Building A Proper Fire In A Fireplace

Building a proper fire in a fireplace. Explains how to select wood to build a fire, how to maintain the fire once built, and how to dispose of ashes properly afterwards.

Building a fire in a fireplace can be a fun experience especially on cold winter days or during holiday gatherings. It is important, however, to follow certain procedures when creating your fire as well as ensure that certain safety guidelines are established beforehand. This will allow you to build a stable fire and one that you can enjoy while it is burning.

Before building a fire in your fireplace, make sure that the fireplace has been cleaned-out thoroughly and all ashes have been removed. If the fireplace contains an adjustable flue, open the flue up half way. When selecting wood to use in your fireplace, make sure that the wood is dry. Freshly cut wood is usually wet inside it and therefore is not recommended for immediate use. Additionally, do not use any wood that comes from a chestnut tree, as this wood type tends to pop and crackle while burning and will throw pieces of charcoal out from the fireplace as it burns.

For wood, you will need to use both soft and hard woods. Soft woods, such as pine, are used for kindling to start the fire. Hard woods, such as oak or cherry, are used to maintain the fire and to keep it burning at a constant temperature. Once you have selected your woods, gather your soft wood and use an axe or similar tool to split the wood into thin strips approximately 10-12 inches in length and 1/2-1 inch in width. Cut enough of this wood to have approximately one large handful available. Next, take your axe and slowly split some of the hard wood into pieces that are larger than the soft wood but that vary in size and shape. Cut enough wood to be able to carry an armful to the fireplace. Once the woods have been cut, move them both to a location beside your fireplace. You are ready to build your fire.



Take about five sheets of an old newspaper, crumple them up loosely, and place them in your fireplace. Then take the kindling pieces and lay them loosely on top of the newspapers trying to avoid crushing the newspapers too much. Note that you can stack the kindling in a form similar to a pyramid or, you can place the kindling in a crossed pattern on top of the newspapers. Next, take some smaller pieces of the hard wood and place them on top of the kindling. Now you can light your fire.

To light the fire, take a match or lighter and light two pieces of newspaper that are located at opposite ends of each other. If you cannot access these areas easily, light a piece of newspaper that is located in the middle of the woodpile. The fire will start to burn the kindling first. After approximately 10 minutes, the hard wood will begin to catch fire. As it burns, you can continue to add pieces of hard wood to the fireplace, stacking them on top of the burning woodpile. Your fire is now established. If you want to add more heat to the room in which your fireplace is located, if you have an adjustable flue, you can try to close it while the fire is burning. Note, however, that if the room begins to get smoky you will need to open the flue up more to adjust for the proper temperature in the room and to disperse any smoke that accumulated.

When creating a fire in a fireplace, certain safety precautions should be adhered to. For example, do not place any flammable or plastic objects near the fire. You should also make sure that rugs and carpets are not located near the fireplace. If your fireplace has a metal curtain on it, make sure that the curtain is closed and secured once the fire is burning. Additionally, do not leave a fire unattended or allow children to remain by a fire unsupervised.

When you want to stop a fire from burning, do not add any additional wood to the fireplace. This will allow the fire to cease on its own accord. When a fire is ceasing, leave it alone and do not remove any ashes that accumulate until they have completely cooled down. You will know when the ashes have cooled when a gray color prevails in the ashes and when heat does not emanate from the ashes. The cooling process for ashes should take between 10-15 hours.

Once the ashes have cooled, use a metal scoop and bucket to remove them from the fireplace. Using metal objects is another safety precaution in case there are any hot ashes remaining in the fireplace that you did not notice. When the ashes have been collected, dispose of them properly. For example, you can dispose of ashes into an outdoor compose heap. If you are not sure whether all the ashes in the bucket have cooled completed, you can also add some water to the bucket to douse any remaining hot spots.

When the ashes have been disposed of properly, clean and sweep-out your fireplace. It is ready to be used another time.

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