The Art of Building a Great Fire in Your Fireplace
My father-in-law Serge takes great pride in his technique for building a fire and rightly so. He taught me a thing or two on how to get a beautiful fire going quickly and evenly, without a lot of excess smoke. I learned too that there are several techniques for making a fire. This post features just one of them – a method that Serge has perfected over the years.
Before he came over the other night, I swept out the ashes from the last few fires we made and made sure the flue was open. Serge says you need to remove ashes when they get about 3 inches deep.
I also gathered some newspaper and brought in some kindling from our front porch.
My contribution to the effort was to make some fire starters using lint from the dryer, toilet paper rolls, and a birthday candle.
You stuff the lint inside the toilet paper roll and place a candle in the middle. When you light the roll, the candle burns inside to give the lint more time to ignite.
When Serge came over, a bundle of wood from our front porch in his arms, we were all ready to go. (Note that we used a dry wood and kindling delivered from a Culpeper, VA tree company whose ad appeared on Craiglist. A dry wood – one with cracks on the ends – will burn better with less smoke.)
He crumpled up some of the newspaper loosely and placed the rolls next to each other under the grate. Serge layered the kindling side by side on top of the grate and criss-crossed a couple of logs on top. He insists that putting the starters (newspaper and roll) under the grate, as well as making sure to leave enough space for oxygen to circulate around, is key to getting the fire going quickly and burning evenly.
He lit the starters and newspaper…
And then he held a large piece of newspaper over the fireplace opening to allow the air to flow under the grate and wood and fuel the fire. The paper doesn’t burn, it just helps the fire to get going without a lot of excess smoke.
With the fire burning good and strong, you can put the fire gate back in place, find a comfy spot on the sofa, and enjoy the warmth and woodsy aromas of your well-made home fire.