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.
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
To use the fatwood, the
damper must be closed. Put the fatwood on the back of your
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
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
• 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