You think that you have started the perfect fire. After a few minutes, you turn around and realize that your roaring fire has flamed or smoldered out. So frustrating. Since each wood burner has their own secret method for building the perfect fire, that will take right off and burn for hours, we'll share a few best practices that will help you learn to build the perfect fire in your fireplace every time.
First, make sure that you are using good wood. You can attempt to build the perfect fire all day long, but it is all wasted effort if the wood you burn is wet, green or rotted. The next thing is to make sure you have the right materials to build your perfect fire. You will need kindling, fire starters, newspaper, and various sizes of firewood.
Conventional wisdom might dictate starting your fire underneath your logs because heat travels up. But, there is good evidence that suggests you should actually build your fires from the top down by layering smaller pieces on top of a base made of larger logs. This way helps the fire grow hotter and hotter and gradually work its way down to the larger pieces of wood, leaving you with a hot base of large logs on which you can stack more firewood.
The basic method goes like this:
1. Stack the largest pieces of wood on your grate, parallel and close together
2. Stack smaller pieces in a second layer with close spacing, crossways to the first layer
3. Layer still smaller pieces crossways to the second layer, this time with some spaces between
4. Loosely layer various size kindling and twisted newspaper sheets and top off the pile
5. Take one more newspaper twist, light it and place it on top of the kindling
The rest of the newspaper and fine kindling will quickly ignite, turning the whole top layer into a hot, smokeless fire. As the fire spreads downward, each successive layer sends its gases streaming upward through flames that consume them before they can reach the flue. That is also helpful, when you think about creosote buildup from condensation of flue gasses.
Finally, sit back and enjoy your perfect fire.
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