Whether you’re looking for a little romance or just want to cut down on your heating expenses, there is nothing cozier or more comfortable than a warm fire on a cool night. Here are some instructions on how to build and maintain a fire in your fireplace.
Be careful to always follow fire safety rules and to keep children and pets away from the open flame and/or the hot glass doors at all times. An ashy log may look safe but be smoldering on the inside. Fire is one of nature’s most beautiful natural elements but if not properly maintained can be its most deadly.
Always start with a clean ash-free fireplace with an open flue. Make sure that the mantle and area completely surrounding your fireplace hearth are clear of debris, paper, or anything flammable or combustible. Carpet and rugs should also be kept away from the fireplace. The use of a metal fireplace grate inside the fireplace is highly recommended and should be placed toward the back of the opening.
When choosing wood for your fireplace, make sure that it has been split and cured (left to dry) for approximately two years before burning it. Freshly cut wood is too wet with sap inside and will not burn. The best types of wood for burning indoors are hardwoods such as oak or cherry.
Using some smaller pieces of wood ( two or three inches wide and about a foot long) pile several pieces on top of the grate, using a recurring X pattern to ensure enough airflow to support the fire once it’s been lit.
Next, take some old newspaper and ball it up loosely. Use a single piece of paper for each ball. Place several of these underneath the grate, leaving a bit of one or two of the balls sticking out slightly. Mingle a few small pieces of cardboard (approximately ten inches square and folded lengthwise) in between the balls of newspaper.
Using a lighter or a long match, light the newspaper balls that you left hanging out slightly. If your fireplace is equipped with screen doors, close them. Stand back being extra cautious of long hair, sleeves, or loose fitting clothing. Never, ever, leave the fire unattended and never leave children unsupervised around a burning fireplace.
After a few minutes, you will see the wood begin to turn red and burn. Now you need to add a couple of bigger pieces of wood (approximately four inches wide by two feet long). Carefully place these new pieces on top of the smaller ones using a pyramid-style formation to form a burning heart of fire in the middle.
As the wood burns down you may want to add additional pieces of wood to keep the fire burning longer. Carefully use a fireplace poker to arrange the already burning wood in a flat position and again place your new pieces of wood into a pyramid position on top.
When you want to shut down the fireplace, simply don’t add any more wood to the fire. When the fire is out all that should be left is a pile of gray ashes that are cool to the touch. It can take up to twenty-four hours for the ashes to completely cool down after using your fireplace.
You can then remove them from the hearth using a steel fireplace shovel and a metal bucket. Always dispose of the ashes properly by either placing them in the trash or using them for fertilizer in a compost container or heap.
Using a small fireplace broom, sweep out the hearth and it will then be ready for the next time the mood strikes you to reignite your fireplace.