Have you ever struggled with getting a fire going in your fireplace? There are a few things you need to know in order to burn efficiently and to produce the kinds of fires you want. Here are some tips that will help you get a beautiful, warm fire quickly and easily:
Get the Fire Started
There is a simple model often used to teach about the three elements necessary for wood-burning fires, and it is called the “fire triangle” or the “combustion triangle.” The three necessary components to get a fire started are: heat, fuel, and oxygen; this is just a good thing to keep in mind if you have problems starting a fire.
There are various ways to start or rekindle a fire. A tried-and-true method is to set kindling on top of newspaper and use a match or lighter to burn the paper. Never use glossy magazine pages because they can release toxic fumes.
For the kindling fire to catch on, it must get plenty of oxygen. Be sure there are air inlets which can help to produce quick results; a fireplace grate helps with getting air to a fire. In a fireplace, opening the damper will ideally create all the draft that is needed for the fire.
Do not use any type of liquid, such as gasoline, to get a fire started because it is extremely dangerous to do so, in addition to being unnecessary.
Burn the Right Fuel
The type of wood you burn determines the type of fire you will have. Firewood that has not been properly dried out has too much moisture inside, is highly inefficient, creates a smoky fire, and creates very little heat. Wood that has been properly dried or seasoned, on the other hand, will burn cleanly, produce very little smoke, and provide warmth.
There are two basic types of wood you can burn, those being hardwoods and softwoods. Softwoods can also heat homes effectively, hardwoods however have more density and produce hotter, longer-burning fires. Olive wood for instance is naturally very hard and durable.
Burn Quickly or Slowly
If the firewood is stacked loosely and arranged in a crisscross pattern with at least three pieces, it will burn more quickly. For a quick, rapidly burning fire that takes the chill out of a house on a mild wintry day, stack small pieces of firewood loosely.
For a slow-burning fire that produces more heat, pack the firewood tightly and use larger pieces.
Responsible wood-burning means that while you are enjoying the heat from a fire in your home, you are contributing a very small amount of emissions to the atmosphere.
As recently as the 1980s, it was common for a wood-burning appliance to emit 42 grams of particulate matter per hour. Today’s approved wood burning stoves and fireplaces, on the other hand, emit a maximum of 7.5 grams per hour. Burning wood responsibly involves a bit more than buying the right kind of appliance, but it is an easy goal to reach.
Burn the Right Fuel
The type of firewood you burn has a lot to do with how efficient your fires are. There are many different types of trees that can be burned, each with their own unique attributes. When it comes to efficiency, the important thing to remember is the difference between seasoned wood and unseasoned wood.
No matter what type of wood you burn, it needs to be seasoned or properly dried. It typically takes about six to nine months for firewood to dry out when stacked properly. The wood should be off the ground, stacked neatly, and covered at the top, to keep the rain off. Wood that is properly seasoned is darker in color than green logs, has cracks in the end grain, and has a hollow sound when tossed against another log.
The goal in drying out wood is to achieve a moisture content of less than 20%. Wood moisture meters are available that you can use to test your wood’s moisture content before you burn it. The moisture content in our firewood is between 17 and 22 %.
Burn Efficient Fires
Another way to be responsible in your wood-burning practices is to burn efficient fires. Start fires with dry kindling and newspaper; never use a combustible liquid in your wood-burning appliance. An efficient fire is never slow and smouldering; instead it is hot and achieves complete combustion. Do not burn a fire that is larger than what is needed for the space ou intend to warm up. Routinely remove ashes from the appliance, to maintain proper airflow that gives fires the oxygen essential for efficient combustion. (Be sure to use safe practices for ash removal, storage, and disposal, to prevent hazardous fires.)
Practice Proper Chimney Maintenance
A well-maintained chimney is another component necessary to achieve efficient wood-burning. If the chimney is obstructed by an excess buildup of creosote or by debris caused by lack of maintenance, fires will not have an adequate draft to burn efficiently. If you schedule an annual chimney cleaning and inspection and address needed repairs, the chimney will help to achieve responsible wood-burning.