Starting a wood fire
Operating a wood burning system effectively requires learned skills and practice. Ideally you want quick ignition when lighting your wood fire, rather than fussing around or waiting for it to catch.
A good starting point is understanding exactly how wood burns. Please read our advice on understanding how logs burn here.
Before starting your fire make sure you have the following key materials:
1. Newspaper twisted into strips (don't use coloured or coated paper)
2. Dry Kindling
3. Seasoned or Kiln Dried firewood (range of sizes)
4. Matches or Fire Lighting tool
Identify where the combustion air enters the firebox and open the vent: Most modern fireplaces and stoves with glass doors are designed with the air entering either through a narrow panel above or below the glass door(s). This air is called "air wash" and flows across the glass to the front of the fire because it is cooler, denser and heavier than combustible gases. If your stove doesn't have a glass air wash system it will have an inlet near the bottom of the firebox - usually near the loading door. If your firebox has a specialised air inlet system then double check the instructions that accompanied the unit.
Empty out most of the ash: Clear out most of the excess ash from the firebox, you can leave some in but make sure the remaining ash doesn't compromise the air flow. Logs burns best on a flat bed of ash, with air for combustion coming from above.
Lighting your fire:
You can build a conventional fire by starting with newspaper and putting kindling on it and then larger pieces, but this method can lead to fires that collapse on themselves and smolder. It also tends to be smoky and fussy because you have to keep adding wood until you have a full fire. Here are three methods we suggest:
1. Two Parallel Logs. Put down two split logs with a space between them and put some twisted newspaper in the space. Add some fine kindling - one inch across or less - on the newspaper and more kindling of various sizes across the two logs. This method works well because the two logs give some space for the newspaper and kindling to get a good start. Their burning is usually enough to ignite the two larger logs. After the kindling has almost burned out, more wood must be added to make a full fire. Manage the airflow to achieve the scale of fire that you want. More air will feed the flames while less air will reduce the scale of the flames. Be careful not to starve the fire of air as that may result in the fire going out.
2. Top-down. While this method takes a little getting used to, it is absolutely reliable, and when it is done properly there is almost no smoke right from the start. Just place three or four full-sized split logs on the firebox floor. Place several pieces of medium kindling across them. Then put 10 or so pieces of fine kindling on top. Now take four or five full sheets of newspaper and roll each one up corner-to-corner and tie a sloppy knot in it. Knotting the paper helps to keep it from rolling around as it burns. Place the knots on top of the fine kindling. Light the paper and watch as the fire burns down through the light kindling, the heavy kindling and into the bottom logs. Using the top-down method, you can light the paper and watch the fire burn on its own for up to two hours. Manage the airflow to achieve the scale of fire that you want. More air will feed the flames while less air will reduce the scale of the flames. Be careful not to starve the fire of air as that may result in the fire going out.
3. Using Fire Starters. Many people use fire starters to get there fire ... started. If the starters are placed among split pieces of dry wood, the fire will start reliably and burn well. It's a no fuss and very simple way to get your fire started. You can buy our Calor Firestarters here: Manage the airflow to achieve the scale of fire that you want. More air will feed the flames while less air will reduce the scale of the flames. Be careful not to starve the fire of air as that may result in the fire going out.