How to Build a Wood Fire

Burning wood has to be the most luxurious way to heat a room sustainably, and there's nothing more welcoming than the sight and smell of a real log fire.
Related To:
Building a Wood Fire

Building a Wood Fire

When creating a warming fire in a fireplace, it is more environmentally friendly to use wood rather than gas. Wood is a renewable, carbon-neutral resource of fuel and is preferable over fossil fuels which aren't environmentally friendly. Always use dry, seasoned wood and chemical-free fire starters like crumpled-up newspapers and kindling. Make sure to allow air to circulate around the wood and kindling so that it will start easily.

Photo by: DK - A Greener Christmas © 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - A Greener Christmas, 2008 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Wood is a carbon-neutral, renewable source of fuel. It releases the same amount of carbon dioxide when burned as if it were to rot naturally. So, it's a much better alternative to fossil fuels, which aren't environmentally friendly.

Recently cut wood tends to have a lot of water in it, so it can smolder and burn inefficiently. Use firewood that has been cut, split, stored and left to season for at least a year; the drier the wood, the more efficient the fire. Splitting logs and stacking them outside under a cover allows the air to circulate freely and dry the wood out sooner. Use hardwoods for firewood: They have a greater density of fibers and burn slower and longer. Good firewoods are beech, apple, pear, pine and oak. Ash is considered the best for both firewood and kindling, but whichever wood you choose, buy it from sustainably managed sources. Be sure to look out for a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) logo.

Starting a Wood Fire

The more small, dry kindling you have, the more easily your fire will start. There's no need to use toxic chemical firelighters if your kindling and wood are dry. Scrunch up some sheets of newspaper fairly tightly and put them in the fire grate. Pile the kindling on top, criss-crossing it loosely so there is plenty of air between each piece. Wood that is packed too tightly won't burn properly. Add two or three small pieces of firewood at the side and back of the kindling pile. Light the bottom of the newspaper at the front with a match, and the kindling should catch fire quite quickly. You need a good draft of air up the chimney to encourage the flames to pick up, so you may want to open a grate or window just to get the fire started. As the flames begin to subside, place a couple more pieces of wood on the kindling and allow the fire to become established.

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Build an Outdoor Stacked Stone Fireplace

Add fireside ambiance to your backyard with an outdoor fireplace made with stacked stone.

How to Build a Wood Pergola

Pergolas provide some much needed shade from the summer sun. Learn how to build a pergola with these step-by-step instructions.

How to Build a Fire Pit

Embrace one of the hottest outdoor living trends by building a fire pit. Learn what steps to take before getting all fired up.

How to Plan for Building an Outdoor Fireplace

Learn how to plan for building an outdoor fireplace, and get tips and tricks for creating a warm and welcoming focal point for your outdoor living space.

How to Build a Gas Fire Pit

A DIY gas fire pit gives you opportunities to express your creativity. Learn easy options for building your own gas fire pit.

How to Build a Concrete Fireplace Hearth

Carter builds a new concrete hearth to update an old 1950s fireplace.

How to Build a Home Theater

Want a movie-theater experience in your home? Learn how to build a home theater with step by step instructions from the pros at HGTV.com

How to Build a New Fireplace Surround and Mantel

A dated fireplace is given a British Colonial look with the addition of staircase posts, molding and a coat of fresh paint.

How to Plan for Building a Fire Pit

Make your backyard a hot spot with these helpful hints on how to plan for building a fire pit.

Kitchen Cabinet Components

Get the information you need on the different components and accessories available for custom kitchen cabinets.

On TV

Shop This Look

Found a living space you love in HGTV's Photo Library? Get the look in your own home with products from Wayfair.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.