As winter strengthens its hold and the mercury drops, many households are turning to their fireplaces for a bit of warmth and nostalgia. There’s nothing quite like cosying up to the hearth with a good book or a warm beverage – especially in January when the weather is particularly chilly.
But there’s much more to properly enjoying your fireplaces than simply tossing a match on the firewood and sitting back to relax. With that in mind, we’re going to offer a few tips that you can follow in order to get the most out of your fireplace this season.
It’s important that all of the essential elements are in place before you light your first fire of the season. It’s easy to forget to open the flume if you don’t light a fire very often. Likewise, it’s also a good idea to check your chimney. If you search online, you’ll find high-quality Forterra chimney pots (as well as similar products from other reputable companies) that are useful in reducing fireplace draft. They also look fantastic on period or homes and restored fireplaces.
How to Prepare the Wood
A good fire begins long before you actually light the match. In fact, the way the wood is sourced and prepared is just as – if not more – important as your actual fire-lighting technique. Properly prepared wood will take all of the following into account:
- Split: Wood should be split into a variety of sizes to accommodate your specific fireplace; generally, anything more than 150 mm in diameter is not going to burn properly.
- Stacked: By stacking your wood split-side facing down, it will be exposed to more air, allowing it to dry out properly before the time comes to burn it.
- Covered: If your firewood is stored outside, it’s important to cover it so that it does not come in contact with rain or snow.
- Stored: Ideally, hardwood needs to be stored for about 12 months before it is burned; softwood can usually get by on half the time.
The Art of Starting a Fire
Once you have gone to the trouble of properly splitting and storing your firewood, it’s time to consider how exactly you are going to kindle that flame. Starting a fire sounds like a relatively easy task, but there are actually a few special steps you can take to improve your chances of getting it right the first time. You’ll find that a bit of practice goes a long way, so if this is your first fire of the year, don’t fret if it takes longer than you expected to light the flame.
Whenever you are trying to start a fire, it’s important to begin with some small kindling that you can use to get the fire going. Once this is done, you can then expand the flame to your actual fuel source (i.e. the wood).
Finally, remember the important role that airflow plays in keeping your fire burning. Leaving some space between your logs will allow for a bright and hot flame, while logs that are too close together are likely to smoulder. With a little care and attention, your fire is going to be absolutely perfect.