How to start a good fire

A hot burn = A clean burn

The key to lighting a good fire is not having to frequently open the door while the fire is heating up. Once the door is closed the flue temperature will rise and the fire will establish more quickly with fewer emissions. A red hot ember bed will establish sooner without constant interference.

The wood you burn must be dry and well seasoned because it will burn cleanly and provide the most heat to your home. Unseasoned or green wood contains a great amount of moisture which reduces the burning temperature of the fire and creates a raft of issues during operation. It will cause your door glass to turn black, produce corrosive elements which can be detrimental to the firebox and flue system, and provide minimal heat to your home.

When you have an efficient fire burning you will have bright swirling flames and red glowing embers with little to no smoke exiting the flue. Your home will also be warmed with the maximum amount of heat from the fuel being burnt.

How to start a good fire

The key to a smokefree fire is a hot firebox and flue. Get them both hot as quickly as possible to promote the best draw and cleanest burn.

Place a generous quantity of loosely crumpled newspaper on the base of the firebox until it is approximately 50% full of paper. Add dry kindling and move the air control knob as far to the right as possible, being the fully open ‘high’ position.

Light the newspaper at two or three locations across the front of the door opening and leave the door slightly ajar resting on the latch pin for a few minutes while the fire establishes. Once the kindling is burning well, close the door and allow the fire to establish. After 20 minutes the fire should be well established and smaller pieces of wood should now be added. Don’t turn your fire down (limit air supply) at this stage. Continue loading smaller pieces of wood until the fire is well established with a good base of glowing red embers. Once you have this good base, you can then start to add larger pieces of wood.

Keep the air control on high until the larger wood you’ve just added is burning well. You can then regulate the air control to achieve the desired burn rate and heat output. It is best to regulate heat output by adding more or less wood rather than running your wood fire on low for extended periods. Creosote is produced and accumulates in the firebox and flue system when fires are operated on low for extended periods. This can be damaging to the firebox and the flue system.

Re-kindle the fire quickly if the wood load has burnt down to only a few glowing embers.

  • Knock two pieces of wood together. If it 'rings' rather than 'thuds' it is likely to be dry
  • Look for radial splits at the end of a piece of wood. These are a sure way to identify dry wood
  • Place a piece of wood on a good fire base. If three sides are burning within 15 mins, the fuel can be considered 'dry'
  • Use a moisture meter, dry fuel is considered from 15-20% moisture content

Always open the air control fully prior to opening the door. Unlatch the door and then open it slowly to load your wood. When loading wood, place it end-on, 'front to back'. Air spaces should be left between the wood to enable oxygen to get to as much of the surface of the wood as possible.

Every time you refuel, leave the air control on 'high' for a minimum of 20 minutes.

  • Do not use wood until it is fully seasoned
  • Do not use rotten wood - it has very little useful heat in it and rot = moisture!
  • Do not use salt borne drift wood. The salt will cause damage to the wood fire and flue system.
  • Do not burn chemically treated timbers. The chemicals may be noxious and pose a health risk
  • Old painted timber can also pose a threat if it has been painted with lead based paint.
  • Don't burn domestic rubbish, glossy paper or magazines as they produce harmful chemicals and creosote
  • Coal must not be used as a fuel Burning incorrect fuel can produce harmful chemicals that can damage the firebox and flue system.
  • Don't skimp on newspaper and kindling as the firebox and flue won't get hot enough quickly to draw well and the fire will struggle to start.
  • Don't smother your fire by using wood that is too big or by cramming too much wood into your burner. Allow air to flow around the wood.
  • Don't add too many big logs at once or add a big log to a dying fire and turn the air control down. This makes it hard for the new fuel to ignite.