A real log fire is so much more satisfying than a gas or electric one. It's not just the warmth - it's the sight, sound and smell of a crackling fireplace that helps us to feel cosier and truly at home.
It can be tricky to get the logs burning right, and it's as much of an art as it is a science. Try a few different ways, and keep practising, and you'll find the perfect configuration for your home and for your wood burning appliance.
These tips should help you to get a fire burning that will heat up your home or garden firepit and keep you cosy.
Tips for Lighting the Perfect Log Fire
To light your fire, you will need:
- A hand shovel
- A soft brush
- A poker
- A pair of tongs
- A tray to remove hot cinder and ash (metallic, not plastic!)
- A lighter or a box of matches
- Some kindling
- Firelighters/fire bricks
Getting Ready to Light the Fire
Firstly make sure that the fire is clean and well ventilated. You should get your chimney cleaned every six months by a chimney sweep, and the area around the fire should be free from obstruction.
Rake Out The Grate
Use a poker to rake the grate, so that any ash from the previous fire falls into the tray underneath the grate. Sweep away any remaining debris, so that your hearth and fireplace is clean.
Empty out any ash and smaller cinders, from the pan, but keep any partially burnt logs or fuel, because this can be used to help get the new fire started.
The cinders from the previous fire may still be hot. They can retain their heat for several hours so do not empty the ash pan into a normal bun.
Keep the ash and cinders in a metal pan on the hearth and leave it there (away from kids or pets that may touch it by mistake) for several hours so that it can cool down properly. Once it is cool you can dispose of it in a standard bin.
When you empty the pan, do so slowly so that you don't end up tipping up a cloud of ash that could get tracked into your carpets or cover your counters/clothes.
Empty it slowly and carefully. The ash pan sits under the grate in the fire. Make sure that you have replaced it before you light the fire.
Making the Fire Bed
You should use two to three firefighters on the fire bed. Place one piece of your kindling against the back wall of the fire, then four to five extra pieces up against this first piece. Make sure that there is a clear view of the firefighters.
When you light the firefighters, they will start to burn quite vigorously, and should hopefully set fire to some of the kindling.
Once the kindling is burning and is producing its own flame, add some small logs. Once those logs have started to burn, you can add some larger ones. Your goal is to help the fire spread across the whole of the grate.
Add just a few logs at a time. Adding too many logs can make the fire go out. It is important to be patient.
When the fire is clearly established, you can put the fire guard back into place, refill the log basket so that you have something to stoke the fire with, and sit back and relax and enjoy the warmth and the soothing sounds of the fire.