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As life continues to get more and more complicated with the birth of new technologies and other advancements, it’s nice to remember simpler times. And what better way to honor years gone by than building the perfect wood-fueled fire? Not only is the result a cozy and rewarding experience that brings people together, but the process itself serves as a reminder of what two human hands are capable of – gratifying in and of itself.

But, how do you build a roaring, long-lasting fire? Is there a right and wrong way to do it? What are the steps to take to ensure a hassle-free experience? Keep reading to find out! 

Have specific questions in the meantime? Don’t hesitate to get in touch with someone from the Ashbusters team! You can reach us over the phone at 615-459-2546, or through our website by filling out this appointment request form.

Priming Your Flue: How Do You Prepare a Wood-Burning Fireplace?

Before getting into the nitty gritty of things – like stacking techniques or what kind of wood to look for – it’s important to understand how best to prepare your appliance for hosting a fire. Contrary to what many might believe, getting a nice fire going is not as simple as gathering wood, piling it in the firebox, opening the damper, and tossing a lighted match. If you want to create a sustainable, even-burning flame, you have to prime your flue accordingly.

Just like you wouldn’t throw food in an oven that hasn’t been preheated and expect it to cook quickly and evenly, the same is true for your fireplace. A smooth and enjoyable experience requires just a bit of system preparation. Because chimneys are built on the principle of hot air rising to replace cold air, preheating your chimney’s flue ensures that it is kickstarted and ready to handle the heat that comes with a full-fledged flame. 

To do so, simply roll up a few pieces of newspaper and light one end on fire. With the damper open, hold your mini torch inside the top of your firebox – as close to the smoke chamber as your appliance will allow. Continue this process until you see the smoke travel up and out of your chimney or you notice a change in airflow or pressure. After a few minutes, your chimney should be ready for a fire!

What Wood Should I Burn?

When it comes to what wood to burn, there are two important factors to look for: the type of wood (hardwood vs. softwood) and whether or not it’s been properly seasoned.

  • Hardwood Vs. Softwood: All wood can be categorized into these two distinct categories. However, this distinction is not necessarily an indicator of wood density but instead refers to the growing conditions of the tree it is sourced from. When looking for firewood, hardwoods like oak, ash, beech, and many fruit-bearing trees are excellent choices because they have a decent heat value and contain lower levels of sap (which can cause a smoky burn).
  • Importance of Seasoning: Another way of saying “drying,” ensuring that your wood has been properly seasoned before you plan to use it is crucial. Cut wood holds a surprising amount of moisture that can drastically impact the quality of its burn. To set yourself up for success, be sure to only use firewood that has been adequately dried (and protected against the elements, bugs, and other animals) for at least six months.

Are There Different Fire Building Techniques? Which One Is Best?

Absolutely! Like just about everything else in life, there is no one “right” way to build a fire. Play around and try out different formations to see which fire-building techniques work best in your fireplace. Refer to the infographic for a better idea of what the different formations should look like.

  • Teepee Method: this is the formation most commonly depicted in the media – a triangular arrangement of several logs leaning to form a point, supported by newspaper and kindling. This structure allows for air to pass between the timber and feed the growing fire that started in the center of those logs. Using a poker, you can shift the pieces of wood to ensure each one catches flame. Be careful to maintain this triangular shape as you add timber to keep the fire burning.
  • Top-Down Method: in this method, you create a sort of multidimensional tee-pee. Starting with the biggest, sturdiest logs, layer your firewood according to size. When you reach the desired height, top off the stack with some newspaper and watch as the flame works its way down the formation. After about 15-20 minutes, you’ll enjoy a full-bodied, roaring fire that requires minimal effort from you. 
  • Log Cabin Method: named as such because of the way it resembles a traditional log cabin, this method alternates stacking timber horizontally and vertically. To start, place two similar-sized logs about six inches apart at the front and back of your firebox. Create a square by laying the next two pieces of firewood perpendicular and close to the edges of the first logs. Create a small tee-pee of kindling in the center of this open structure and enjoy the benefits of a long-lasting flame.
original infographic explaining different wood fireplace-building techniques

And in terms of which one is best…it’s really just a matter of personal preference. Play around and see which way works best for you and your appliance.

For High-Quality Hearth Care Near Nashville & Beyond, Trust Ashbusters Chimney Service

Are you a Nashville homeowner looking for a trustworthy and reliable fireplace and chimney services provider? Look no further than Ashbusters Chimney Service. No matter if you’re looking for tips on how best to care for your heating appliance or it’s about that time to schedule your annual chimney sweep, our team is here for you.

Contact us by calling 615-459-2546 or get in touch by filling out this appointment request form right here on our website. Happy fire building!