How To Light A Wood Fire

April 9, 2020

Do you have a hard time starting a fire in your wood freestanding, fireplace, or inbuilt? There are three aspects to every fire that need to be balanced in order to create a warm and highly efficient fire, called the combustion triangle. These include fuel (wood), air (oxygen) and heat (a spark or ignition). To build and maintain a wood fire you will need all three; follow these 5 steps to ensure you create a balanced triangle and a sustainably warm fire:

1. Open the damper if your unit has one, and the air control fully.  This allows oxygen to circulate through the firebox and helps create a draft more quickly to draw the smoke up and out through the venting.

2.  Start with loosely crumbled newspaper and very small pieces of wood (kindling). When stacking the kindling ontop of the newsprint you will want to make sure there is plenty of space for air to circulate. At this stage of the process airflow is key to getting the kindling to ignite.

A few small logs can be added to the top of the kindling, just ensure they are crossed so air can get underneath, and that they don’t crush the kindling.  Start with small pieces and as the fire catches you will want to add larger pieces, but adding too much wood at the beginning will stop the fire from catching.  Now light the fire and close the door, leaving it slightly ajar. Remember, with the door open slightly; be sure to keep an eye on the fire as it isn’t fully contained at this point!

3.  Once the fire begins burning well you can slowly add larger pieces. Once the larger pieces have begun to burn you can close the door completely – there is now plenty of heat, airflow, and fuel to keep the fire going.

4.  After about 15-20 minutes once the fire is roaring you can adjust the damper and air control to the desired level.  Remember, more air = bigger fire with more heat, but less burn time; and less air = longer burn time with a smaller flame and less heat.

5. Now that the fire is started, enjoy the warmth! If you want to keep the fire burning for longer, add wood as it starts to burn down. If you’re looking for more heat and a bigger flame, open the damper or air control to allow more air flow into the firebox. Getting the right combination of fuel and air will create the longest burn times, best heat and highest efficiency. Be sure to refer to the units’ manual for proper operation.

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