In this article I’ll be providing you with some valuable tips on how you can light fires inside your cabin, whether it be at your wood stove or your fireplace. Some tips will be more obvious than others, you may already be doing some of these things however I hope to provide you with some information which will make your fire making more effective.
Use Dry Wood
Whenever possible, use dry wood as it is significantly more flammable than damp wood. Trying to light wet wood is never a good idea unless it’s the only wood you have. Always give it time to dry, let the moisture dry up.
The reason wet wood takes longer to catch fire is because the heat from the fire is used to boil and evaporate the moisture in the wood. This means that the heat that should be used heating up your cabin is being used to boil water.
Wet wood will result in a lot of smoke. None wants a cabin looking like someone has thrown a smoke grenade through their window. Therefore, not only will dry wood catch fire easier but it won’t flood your cabin with smoke.
Create a gap below the logs
Most fireplaces will have a grate, in which the fire is elevated, allowing for airflow below the logs. If you don’t have a grate in your fireplace, I’d recommend purchasing one or create gaps user self at the bottom of the logs.
Top up your fire with more wood
This is probably one of the more obvious things to do to keep your fire burning. Maintaining your fire is important and can be done easily by just adding some wood every so often. Don’t add too much wood to your fire at once, just add a few extra logs when needed. Before you go to bed feel free to add a bit extra, so it’s lasts the night.
Check the Draft Before Lighting
It’s a good idea to check the draft before lighting your fire. This can be done by lighting a match and holding it up inside the fireplace. You then want to identify which direction the flame goes. If the flame is going up the chimney, then the draft is going up your chimney which is exactly what you want. If the flame is not going up the chimney, then the draft is coming down the chimney. This is not what you want, and you’ll have to reverse the draft, you cannot light a fire with a downwards draft. In my next points I’ll be explaining how you can reverse the draft and light your fire easier.
Open your window
When you light up your fireplace, you’ll want airflow up your chimney. If you’re having trouble, opening a window would be a good idea. Opening a window should allow air in from outside which will then assist the air from the room to move up through your chimney.
Open your Door a few minutes before lighting the fire
Before your light your fire you should open the door on your fireplace/wood burning stove. You should do this to warm your fireplace to room temperature. This will allow the air to flow up the chimney.
Open the Flue or Damper
Like you’ve probably noticed, there’s quite a few things you should open before lighting a fire. When you’ve opened the door to your fireplace you should also ensure that you open the flue or damper. This will allow for airflow up your chimney.
Light the Fire
I use a lighter to light a small kindling, you can use a match or blow torch, whatever you got. Alternatively, you could use newspaper however I find that newspaper burns to quickly, whereas a piece of wood kindling burns for longer and hotter. Overall, you’re more likely to have a successful fire when using kindling’s as oppose to a newspaper however you’re free to use what you like.
I often use a small kindling to begins with against a log, once the kindling has lit up – add a slightly larger kindling to the small fire. Once this kindling catches fire, keep adding slightly larger ones each time until you’ve got a strong fire going.
By lighting this small fire you’re allowing the chimney to heat up. This allows for good airflow going upwards through the chimney. Whilst you’re still developing your fire, leave the door of the stove/fireplace open to prevent from smothering itself.
Spread the fire a few minutes before you take it out
When your finishing off with your fire, you should spread it and let it die out slowly, more naturally. This can be done by using a poker to spread out all the material in your fire. This wont work if you still have large logs on the fire, you’ll have to wait it out. You can allow more oxygen into the fire by opening your fireplace door or vent on your wood burning stove to make the wood burn faster.
Give yourself around 20 minutes time for the fire to die down, and once it’s completely dead you can begin cleaning it out.
Clean it out before leaving
When you’re done with your fireplace or wood burning stove and you’re heading out, you should clean it out. I use a shovel and a broom to make cleaning the debris and junk out a lot easier and more effective. Cleaning out your fire ashes will save you the job of cleaning it next time you want to use it.
There are several reasons why you should Keep your fireplace or wood burning stove free of ash, one being to improve air intake for a good burn. Removing ash also helps to reduce allergens and odors associated with smoke and burnt wood fibers.
Remember that you should not use a regular vacuum to clean up your ashes, this will damage your vacuum and is a dangerous fire hazard. Part of the cleaning process also involves closing the chimney damper/flue.
My name is Eugene Thornhill. I'm an outdoor enthusiast who loves nothing more than being one with nature. I've lived in numerous outdoor homes and even constructed my own. Living off-grid is something I'm very familiar with, more so than living in the city. For many years I've dealt with the many problems of living off-grid. It's time to pass on my knowledge through Cabinguides.