How To Start A Wood Fireplace in Under 10 Steps

Whether you're spending the holidays at an Airbnb or it's just been a while since you've started a fire in your home's wood fireplace, we're here to help you with the best techniques to start a wood fireplace so you can get to roasting those chestnuts and marshmallows with ease. 

1. Clean Out The Ashes

First things first, whether it was you or somebody else that had the last fire, you're going to want to clean out the ashes. Well, most of the ash that is. It's said that leaving roughly one inch of ash in your fireplace can help you build a better fire. This is because the hot coals tend to nestle to the remaining ash and add glow. This in turn puts out more heat while reflecting more light into your living area. 

*Note - be careful when handling ash. Ash can stay hot up to three days after a fire, which can become a fire hazard if handled or disposed of improperly. Safety first folks!

2. Get Your Wood Prepped

Having your wood on deck is the 2nd (and perhaps the most obvious) step. We recommend using a hardwood, such as Oak, Cherry, or Ash, and there's a few reasons for this. Hardwoods tend to burn a little hotter, thus giving you more heat output from your fire. In addition to this, hardwoods contribute less ash and creosote compared to softwoods, thus leading to less cleanup and chimney sweeps. It may be easier to get a softwood started for your fire, but in the long run you'll thank us for sticking to hardwoods.

3. Check Your Damper/Flue

As we said before, safety first. You'll want to double check your damper to make sure it can open and close properly to regulate the fire and remove harmful particles from the air. Double check to make sure there isn't anything blocking it or preventing it from opening and closing smoothly.

4. Prime Your Flue

If you've ever started a wood fire and had the smoke billow out of the fireplace for the first few minutes, you know that priming the flue is a necessary part of setting up a successful and safe fire. You can prime the flue by lighting a piece of newspaper and sticking it up into the damper opening to let the air begin to circulate. Repeat this step a couple of times until you start to feel the cool air begin to warm, letting you know that the air has begun to circulate.

5. Begin to set your wood

Start with some firestarters and kindling and form the initial base for your fire. Some people prefer criss-cross patterns, while others prefer the traditional triangle method. Whatever you find works best for you will do, we don't need Canada's Next Top Engineer to build a simple fire. Once you have your base set, you can ignite your Firestarter and start the fun. 

*Note: A quick and easy way to get your fire going without the use of traditional firestarters is with an electric fire starter.

6. Add your Hardwoods

While the fire is in it's infancy and just starting to catch the kindling, you can form your larger hardwood pieces we mentioned earlier to your preferred form. Again, no engineering needed here, whatever shape you find works best for you. This lets the fire breathe a bit in the infancy while still leaving enough time to safely lay your larger logs.

7. Keep It Small

The same rule outdoors applies indoors - small fires are safe fires. It allows you to keep things contained within the fireplace, while also keeping the ash, soot and other byproduct properly flowing out the chimney.

8. Place Your Spark Guard In front Of The Fire

Now that the fire has begun to light and it's getting up to size, place your spark guard in front of the fire. This keeps any hot coals, ambers or sparks contained and away from any flammable material that might be present in the room.

9. Maintain Your Fire

Lastly, depending on how long you want to keep your fire going, keep sporadically adding logs to maintain your desired fire size. Remember not to add too much on and create a safety hazard.

Well there you have it ladies and gents, that's how your start a wood fire in your home fireplace. If you have anymore questions, you can visit any of our 5 locations across Canada to speak to a fireplace expert. We have two locations in Alberta with our Calgary North and Calgary South locations, as well as 3 across the GTA: BurlingtonOakville & Etobicoke, Ontario.

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