How to Light Wood in a Fireplace

A fire in the fireplace makes a cozy glow.
A fire in the fireplace makes a cozy glow. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

A fireplace provides warmth and adds cheer and even romance to a room. Getting a good fire going requires only the proper starting materials and a little patience. Whether you want to take the chill off a winter morning or set the stage for a romantic evening, if you lay the fire properly you'll have no trouble lighting the wood.

Things You'll Need

  • Kindling
  • Split firewood
  • Matches or butane lighter

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Open the damper. Locate the damper near the fireplace and pull or rotate the lever until it is all the way open. The damper controls how much air gets to the fire. If you haven't used your fireplace in a while, you may have closed the damper to keep heat from escaping from the house. To start your fire, you want the damper all the way open.

Pile kindling in the center of the fireplace. Choose small, dry sticks, wood chips and even pine needles. Place a couple of handfuls of this kind of material on the floor of the fireplace.

Arrange larger logs over the kindling. You can arrange the logs in a teepee pattern or, if your fireplace is equipped with a metal fire basket or andirons, arrange the logs over the kindling in the basket or across the andirons. Choose split logs that are dry and cured. Turn the side without the bark toward the kindling. Use at least three log pieces, stacked with space between them.

Light the kindling with a match or butane lighter. Hold the flame in the kindling until it catches fire. As the kindling burns, it should light the larger logs.

Tips & Warnings

  • Add air if necessary by blowing on the fire gently, or fanning it with a bellows.
  • Be sure to use dry, cured wood, and add more as necessary to keep the fire going.


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