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  • Writer's pictureIgnite Chimney and Fireplace

How do I safely start and put out a fire in my wood burning fireplace?

A crackling fire in a wood-burning fireplace creates a cozy ambiance during colder months. However, it is crucial to prioritize safety when starting and extinguishing a fire to prevent accidents and ensure the well-being of your home and loved ones. One of the main questions we get on our visits to customers homes is "How do I safely start / put out my wood burning fire. In this blog post, we will provide a step-by-step guide on how to safely start and put out a fire in your wood-burning fireplace. Please note, this is general advice. There are many variables on safely using your wood burning fireplace. It is up to you to use your best judgement when starting and putting put your wood burning fireplace.

Safely Starting a Fire:

  1. Prepare the Fireplace:

    • Clear the area: Remove any flammable items from the vicinity of the fireplace, including furniture, rugs, and decorations.

    • Open the damper: Ensure the damper is fully open to allow for proper ventilation and the release of smoke.


  1. Use the Right Materials:

    • Dry firewood: Use seasoned hardwood that has been properly dried for at least six months. Avoid using wet or green wood, as it produces excessive smoke and creosote buildup.

    • Kindling and newspaper: Place a layer of crumpled newspaper and small pieces of dry kindling in the fireplace grate.


  1. Build the Fire:

    • Arrange the logs: Position two or three larger logs on the grate, leaving space between them for air circulation.

    • Add kindling: Place additional kindling on top of the logs in a crisscross pattern to ensure proper airflow.

    • Ignite the fire: Carefully light the newspaper or kindling at the base of the stack. It is important to create a lot of heat quickly so use as much newspaper or kindling to help with that. Use long matches or a fireplace lighter for safety.


  1. Monitor the Fire:

    • Keep a safe distance: Once the fire is lit, avoid standing too close to the flames and maintain a safe distance to prevent accidental burns.

    • Gradually add logs: As the fire builds, add larger logs one at a time to maintain a steady and controlled burn.


Safely Extinguishing a Fire:

  1. Allow Sufficient Burning Time:

    • Let it burn down: Allow the fire to burn down naturally until only glowing embers and ashes remain. This process may take a few hours, so plan accordingly. Do not ever leave a wood burning fireplace unattended.


  1. Follow Safety Measures:

    • Wear protective gloves: Before handling the fireplace tools, put on heat-resistant gloves to protect your hands from burns.

    • Use fireplace tools: Use a fireplace shovel or tongs to carefully spread out the remaining embers and ashes within the fireplace.


  1. Extinguish the Fire:

    • Apply water or sand: Gently pour water or sand onto the remaining embers and ashes to completely extinguish the fire. Be cautious not to flood the fireplace.

    • Double-check for hot spots: After applying water or sand, visually inspect the fireplace for any lingering hot spots or embers that may still be smoldering.


  1. Dispose of the Ashes:

    • Use a metal container: Transfer the cooled ashes into a metal container specifically designed for ash disposal.

    • Store the container safely: Place the container outside, away from combustible materials, until the ashes have cooled completely. Never dispose of ashes in a combustible trash bin.

Starting and extinguishing a fire in your wood-burning fireplace can be a safe and enjoyable experience when following the necessary precautions. By properly preparing the fireplace, using the right materials, and adhering to safety guidelines, you can create a warm and inviting atmosphere while minimizing the risk of accidents. Remember to exercise caution and prioritize safety at all times. Stay vigilant and enjoy the cozy comforts of a well-maintained wood-burning fireplace.


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