Build a Fire

Interestingly, while millions of people burn fires in the fireplace, many do it wrong. The key to a good, roaring fire is to burn the wood efficiently. To accomplish this, it is important to know the proper way to build a fire, which is what we wanted to address in this article. Knowing some, basic information will ensure you have a wonderful fire for heat and ambience.

Burning your fire the right way will result in a number of benefits to include reducing the amount of wood used, reducing both indoor and outdoor air pollution, cutting down the frequency of having your chimney cleaned, and even improving the enjoyment of sitting in front of a fire. As you will see below, it is essential to understand how wood burns.

Wood Water Weight

Keep in mind that approximately 50% of the weight is water. Now, the wood goes through a seasoning period, which allows time or the water to evaporate down to about 20%. Then, when you purchase wood to burn, once the fire is going, any water is burned, which results in the actual wood creating fire for heat. Therefore, the first key is to purchase only quality, seasoned wood to burn in your fireplace.


To begin the process of a fire, you will need to make sure your fireplace or stove are in proper working order. In addition, only proper kindling, which could be small wood pieces, or gas should be used. For starting your fire, first determine the location within the firebox where combustion air is located. Typically, you would have a small strip found behind and/or the glass. The purpose here is that air comes down over the glass to the front portion of the fire.

Lighting the Fire

After determining this area, you would place your kindling wood and a few small pieces of newspaper into the firebox. Make sure your damper is open and then using matches or a lighter, start burning the kindling. Once you have a good burn, you would then place a smaller log on top, waiting a few minutes until it begins to burn. Again, please another small piece of wood on top, continuing this while increasing the size of the wood so your fire burns well. For kindling wood, we suggest you stick with pine or cedar, which are the best.

Now, you have another option for building a fire, known as the "top down" process. For this, you do the very opposite of the method just described. In other words, you would put your kindling wood in the back portion of the firebox instead of the front. Again, use crumpled up newspaper, open the damper, and then light. Once the kindling is burning, you would again place logs on the fire, starting with small and working to large. The benefit to this method is that you have less start-up smoke.