How To Build That Perfect Cozy Fire


new_house5.jpgIt’s about 60 degrees here in the mid-Atlantic States and, if you ask me, the perfect time to get a good fire going in your fireplace!  The reason I like to make fires when it’s between, say, 55 – 60 degrees is that, in most cases, you don’t need your central heating system to be on and you can enjoy a fire without it sucking all of the warm air from your home.


Contrary to what most people think, fireplaces don’t provide much
heat outside the area immediately in front of the hearth and a roaring
fire actually robes the rest of your home of warm air (basically, the
fire is looking for oxygen and grabs it from every room in your
house).  There are some exceptions; for example, a wood stove is an
excellent, and highly efficient, wood burning machine! 

So, when the outdoor temperature is right and you don’t have your
heat running, here are some tips on creating that perfect roaring fire:

Open your damper (this is straightforward but you would be surprised how many people actually forget).

– Use good firewood.  According to the US Forest Product Lab, Locus, Ash, and Beech are the best varities.  However, the most important attribute of firewood is that it is seasoned or dried for at least a year (this will allow the wood to burn cleanly and without any smoke; seasoned wood also burns hotter).

– Get a hold of some fatwood via LL BeanFatwood catches fires very quickly and stays lit long enough for your starter wood to get going.

– Get a hold of some starter wood (I usually walk
around my yard and try to find some old, small, branches that have
fallen and have become naturally seasoned).  You can also ask your
local wood delivery guy to supply some starter pieces for your stove or

– You’ll need some old newspaper and matches, I like burning Ed-Ops I disagree with…

– Once you have the “ingredients” it’s time to build the fire.  Start by crumpling 5-6 pieces of newspapers and placing it under your grate (don’t crumble the pieces to small or tight as they will not burn right).  Next, place 6-7 pieces of firewood on top of your metal grate.  Your smaller starter wood goes on top of the fatwood (don’t skimp here, try to include 8-10 good pieces), followed by 1-2 pieces of your regular firewood (look for the smallest pieces in your pile).  Light the newspaper and watch the magic happen!

– The key to maintaining a fire is to produce red, glowing, embers
that pile up underneath your grate.  As soon as you have a good pile of
embers you’ll be able to add new firewood and it will catch

Poking the fire every 30 minutes or so will also feed new air into the wood pile and you’ll notice the flame picking up, as well.

– Whenever I plan to light a fire I make sure that we do not have any major plans for the day, so we do not need to, unexpectedly, leave the house for long periods of time.

– About 2-3 hours before you plan to leave the fire unattended, make sure you stop adding wood to the fire.  This will ensure that the fire has some time to die down (NOTE:
the fire and embers will still be extremely hot).  You should make sure
that your fireplace screen is on securely and at all times (except for
when you are adding would of course), I’ve seen sparking embers fly 3-4

Enjoy the fire and make sure you have a good book, glass of wine, or wife/husband with you!


  1. I think fireplaces are not only a good way to heat your home, but they also add a ton of style to any room that they are placed in.

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