How to Start the Perfect Fireplace Fire

Picture a real open fireplace, logs crackling away soothingly as the flames flicker around them. There's nothing quite like it to make you feel both physically and emotionally warm, especially on long winter evenings spent indoors.

Without the knowledge required to get a fire going properly, however, it can be a source of stress rather than a relaxing experience. Failing to understand fireplace care and use can be frustrating or even dangerous, so here's the right way to do it.

Get ready

Before you do anything else, you need to be sure your chimney is in a safe state. If you've never used the fireplace, haven't used it for a long time, or don't remember when the chimney was last cleaned, you should call a professional sweep. Tar and other substances can build up inside, and a blockage can cause dangerous fumes to fill your home.

Assuming your chimney is clean and free from obstructions, you need to open the damper before you can get started with the fire. If you don't do this, the flue is effectively closed off and your home will fill with smoke.

Gather your materials

In addition to your main firewood, which should be seasoned and of a good quality, you'll need tinder and kindling.

Tinder is what will be lit first and should be something that burns easily. Crumpled up newspaper is a popular choice and an alternative to throwing it away. For kindling, you'll want pieces of wood smaller than the logs. About an inch or less in thickness is perfect – larger twigs or smaller branches are good for this.

Finally, you'll need something to actually light the fire with. Long matches are useful because they burn for plenty of time, so there's no risk to your fingers as you're trying to get things going.

Build a long-lasting fire

There are plenty of ways to build a fire, but if you want a long, relaxing burn without the need for constant attention, the upside-down fire is the best choice.

Start with the largest logs, and line them up in the fireplace grate. Next, take some smaller ones and place them in a line on top, laying across the first logs. Add more layers of increasingly small logs in the same fashion until you have four or five levels in total.

Finally, put a layer of kindling on top of the logs, followed by some of your tinder. Light the tinder and watch your fire burn beautifully without any hassle.