Start A Fire In Your Wood Fireplace & Fill Your Room With Light And Warmth

There are few things more romantic or relaxing than sitting in front of a fireplace sipping a glass of wine or just soaking up the warmth from the flames. This feeling of euphoria and pleasure can be marred very quickly with a room filling up with smoke. Before you start a fire in your wood fireplace, make sure you know what you are doing. If you've never started a fire yourself or are unfamiliar with fireplaces, ask someone for help. Here are some simple instructions how you and your family can quickly and safely enjoy your fireplace.

Preparations for Starting The Fire

Before you start your fire, always make sure that the damper is open and the draft is going up the chimney. To determine which way the draft is moving, light a match close to the flue opening and see if the draft is going up or down. The flue is the part of your chimney where the smoke exits, while the damper controls how much air goes through the flue. Many fireplaces have a glass door. A glass fireplace door not only adds a decorative touch to the fireplace and room in general but also acts as a safety measure.

If the fireplace door is opened at least a half hour prior to lighting the fireplace, it often will get the draft moving up the fireplace on its own. However, if this doesn't happen and the draft is coming down into the room, my favorite way to take care of this problem is to light one or two pieces of fatwood to force the draft to move upwards and out the chimney. Fatwood is a totally natural product and contains no preservatives, and releases no harsh additives or toxic chemicals into your home. It is a piece of wood about 8 inches long and ¾ inches in diameter, that is cut from the remaining stump of a downed pine tree This pine stump has a high concentration of clean burning resinous pine sap or pitch. Fatwood can be purchased at a hardware store or where you obtain wood stove products and also online.

 To use the fatwood, the damper must be closed. Put the fatwood on the back of your fireplace shovel, light it and stick it up into the fireplace opening close to the damper. The purpose of this is to heat up the top of the fireplace opening. Gradually start opening the damper a little at a time while allowing the fatwood to continue to heat up the upper part of your fireplace. There is no specific timeframe for how long this will take. Once you get the hang of this, it will become easier each time. You'll know when the draft is all moving up because you'll hear air sucking the heat and fire from the fatwood.

Starting Your Fire

With the damper open and the draft moving up, you're now ready to start a fire and get the room warm and toasty while you watch the beautiful flames. You can place fatwood and kindling on the grate. Stack the firewood horizontally on the grate no more than 2/3 of the height of the burning area in the fireplace. Light the fatwood and your fire should be burning with a nice clear flame in short order.

Watching the color of the smoke will help determine if your fire is burning correctly. Black smoke indicates that the fire is producing soot and harmful carbon monoxide- the result of the fire not getting enough oxygen. Grey smoke indicates the fire is getting too much oxygen, which can come from using green or wet wood. White smoke indicates a good balance between the condition of the wood and the amount of oxygen available.

By following these simple instructions, you'll be able to appreciate the beauty that's possible with your new fireplace. Even if you feel you're very knowledgeable and familiar with starting fires, there are still precautions you should take to ensure safety.

    • Make sure the damper in the fireplace is open.

    • Make sure the draft is moving up the chimney prior to starting the fire.

    • Make sure your wood is dry.

    • Make sure the fire is completely out in the morning.

Enjoy and have fun with your fireplace and the process of getting it started and maintaining the fire.