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Guide for Building a Fire in your Fireplace or Wood Stove

Starting a wood fire - Atlanta Chimney SweepsThe use of fire for getting warm and cooking may date back to prehistoric times, but it’s still not outdated. In fact, as a result of innovation in design, wood-burning appliances can be highly fashionable and environmentally friendly, in addition to being practical as a heat source. In spite of the popularity and usefulness of wood-burning appliances, it does no good to own one if you don’t know how to get a fire started. There is a simple equation that explains the three elements necessary to get a fire going, and those elements are: Fuel, air, and heat. For best results successfully building a fire, see the following tips.

Choose the Right Fuel

The type of fuel you are using for tinder, kindling, and logs makes a lot of difference in how easy or difficult it is to light a fire in your fireplace or wood stove.

Tinder. Having good tinder is the first step in getting a perfect fire in your wood fireplace or wood stove. The base of a fire which gets it started is the tinder, and there are many forms of tinder. The most common form of tinder for many people is newspaper, but there are other great materials that will also ignite quickly and get your fire ready for the kindling. Some ideas for tinder include:

  • Cedar shavings are the stringy parts of the tree bark. If you rub some of the shavings between your hands, a small ball of shavings will form. Cedar shavings make great tinder.
  • A trick used by survivalists is to coat cotton balls in Vaseline petroleum jelly and store them for use as tinder. Vaseline is flammable, and this homemade type of tinder burns very well and for longer than you might imagine.
  • Some people use dryer lint for tinder because it usually burns very well, but that’s not true of all types of synthetics that may be in the lint.
  • Twigs, moss, dry grass, pencil shavings, and leaves can also serve well as tinder.

Kindling. In phase two of building a fire, the kindling catches fire, creating sustainable flames. Never use green or unseasoned wood for kindling because it has too much moisture in it and will produce a lot of combustion smoke but won’t be very effective at getting logs to catch fire. Dry sticks, small branches, and wood split into small sections can all serve as kindling. Pine cones also make good kindling, and they also fill the air with a pleasant aroma.

Logs. Hardwoods create hot coals, they are twice as dense as softwoods, and they burn longer. If you want the fire to provide lasting heat, use hardwood logs. When the fire is just getting started, be sure plenty of air can move from the kindling to the logs, so that the fire spreads well to the logs.

Ensure a Sufficient Draft

A fire must have air to get going and to keep going. Be sure there aren’t so many ashes underneath the fireplace grate that the fire can’t get any air. Open the chimney damper. If there isn’t a good draft, smoke will back up into the room. You may want to contact our professional chimney technicians, to help determine whether there is an obstruction in the chimney or whether there may be negative air pressure in the home, preventing the fireplace or wood stove from getting the needed air to start fires.

Wood Burning Fireplace TipsLight the Tinder and Kindling

Use a long match to get the tinder and kindling going. Never use liquid accelerants because it could cause an explosion or a house fire and could cause an injury. If you have a sufficient amount of kindling, the logs should be burning before long.

Since, fuel, air, and heat are all that’s required to light a fire, you now have all the information you need to be a fire starter, like a modern-day caveman. Contact our Atlanta Chimney Sweeps if you have any questions on building a fire in your own wood stove or fireplace.

Chimney Solutions, Inc.
1155 McFarland 400 Drive, Alpharetta GA 30004
Office 770-255-1300 / Toll Free 877-697-9337

Chimney Sweep / Chimney Repairs / Chimney Liners / Fireplace & Stove Service
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