Building a crackling fireplace fire can be a challenging task for even the most experienced firestarters. Many homeowners get discouraged after several failed attempts and simply consider their fireplace a decorative fixture in the home. But building a successful fire in your fireplace is possible for even the most novice firestarters. You just need to follow a few key steps and you can create a successful, crackling fire everytime.
Ensure Your Wood is Dry
The first, and perhaps most important step, is to ensure you are starting with dry wood. Proper firewood should be split, stacked, and covered for 12 to 18 months. Wet wood can be challenging to light and maintain. Additionally, the wetter the wood the more smoke and creosote that is produced. Creosote, is the harmful byproduct of your fire that remains behind in your chimney.
Start with A Large Firestarter
The second step in building a successful fire is to start with a large firestarter. A common issue with firestarters is that they burn out before the wood completely catches fire. The firestarter will only last a few minutes and create only enough energy to get the wood smoldering before it goes out.
To ensure enough time to light, we recommend using a 4.5 oz firestarter. Our personal favorite is the Duraflame Cowboy 4.5 oz Indoor Outdoor Firestarter. By having a large firestarter, you are ensuring the wood and kindling have enough energy to begin the combustion process before the firestarter fades out.
Add Ample Kindling to Your Fire
Any firestarter is not enough to ignite a large round piece of wood. Another issue many homeowners experience when starting a fire in their fireplace is not having enough kindling in the fire. Kindling is smaller pieces of dry wood, 1 to 2” in diameter. These smaller pieces of wood ignite easily and produce the added energy to get large round firewood ignited.
When building the fire, it is recommended to start with equal parts kindling and firewood in mass, but splitting up wood to create kindling can be a time-consuming process. A safe and easy way to make kindling is with the Kindling Cracker King. This handy tool allows you to split firewood with just a hammer.
Prime Your Draft
Now that you have your fire built and ready to start, the next step is to prime your draft. This will ensure the airflow is going up and out of your chimney preventing smoke from coming back into the room. To do this you will want to put a heat source up through the fireplace into the chimney toward the damper.
One of our favorite tools to do this safely and effectively is a MAP Gas hand-held blow torch. Hand-held blow torches are easy to maneuver up into the chimney for effective priming. Using a MAP gas blow torch will also create a tremendous amount of energy without any smoke at all.
If you see smoke start to fill the room after you light the fire, you can use this blow torch to quickly prime the draft and reverse the airflow allowing the smoke to flow upwards out of the Chimeny. The hand held blow torch will last you years even with regular use lighting fires in your fireplace.
An additional benefit of having a blow torch is to reignite your fire. If you have not been paying attention to your fire for some time and all the fuel went out. A blow torch can quickly ignite a fresh piece of wood over the hot coals.
By using dry wood and a large firestarter, adding ample kindling, and priming your draft, you can build a successful fire everytime. If you have not used your fireplace in some time but would like to try to build a fire, schedule a chimney inspection first to ensure your fireplace and chimney are in good working condition.