How to light a real fire with wood

I never stuck it at brownies or guides, therefore I never did learn hot to light a fire. I have a clean fireplace and a load of wood in the shed but I've no idea how to light a fire. Also, the fireplace was used 2 years ago for fires, would that be ok to use or would it need sweeping?



  • Matches is the best way!!! :rotfl: Sorry!!
  • shannishanni Forumite
    353 Posts
    Okay...hadn't thought of that
  • First thing is definitely to get it swept. In two years, a bird could easily have built a nest in the chimney head. It is worth bearing in mind that if you are burning wood it will need swept a minimum of every six months as wood gives off more sparks than coal. If you want to save money you could do this yourself but I won’t go into detail unless you feel confident so let me know if you’re keen and I’ll give you step by step instructions.

    As for lighting the fire, get newspaper (at least 3 or 4 full sheets and not glossy colour supplements but newsprint) and scrumple it up before putting it in the grate. Place kindling on top of the newspaper, small split pieces of wood no more than quarter of an inch thick, and light the newspaper in several places. Once the kindling has begun burning on its own then put on successively larger pieces of wood until the fire can burn unaided. It is a bit of a case of trial and error. Your fire WILL go out, it still happens to me, but persevere and before long you will have the knack.
  • It would probably be a good idea to get the chimney swept (mental note to self to find sweep).

    Start with a firelighter, put a few bits of kindling on top... small bits of wood. On top of that add the larger bits of wood. Light the firelighter and off it should pop. You might have a lever on the front of the fireplace to adjust the amount of air going through - you need lots of air to start with and then shut it down a bit once the fire is going. If you don't have a firelighter you could try screwing up bits of newspaper and using the iddiest bits of kindling you can, but I don't often get success that way.

  • Just noticed I'm too slow at typing!
  • LOl lovinlife, you did mention something I forgot, plenty of air. Open the bottom of the grate where the ash box is and that should keep the air flowing until the fire has caught
  • I'd get the chimney swept etc and make sure that there are no blockages, birds nests etc otherwise you'd have one heck of a smokey house/chimney fire etc.

    Try and ensure that the wood that you have is well dried; green wood takes a long time to burn and smokes a lot. Some good, dry kindling and some newspaper scrunched into balls helps too. Here is a link with a bit more info on how to build an efficient, low emissions fire.

    How nice to have a fireplace in your home, get the chimney swept pronto. It's so nice to have a fire burning, especially at this time of year, makes it so cosy. I live in a flat and only have storage heating. :-(


    or this...

    “Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot. In your soul are infinitely precious things that cannot be taken from you.” - Oscar Wilde
  • First class advice from Firstclass there :T

    I would add though to take your time building the fire and it will save an awful lot of time rebuilding and relighting a hastily thrown together one.
    Firelighters have their merit but I think are unnecessary and they stink anyway. Newspaper is always ideal build a little wigmam of kindling 1/2" to 3/4" in the centre of a bed of scrumpled up newspapers and build thicker sticks around it, light the paper in two or three locations and it will burn like a !!!!!!, just add the bigger logs or sticks once your grate is full of flames.

    HOWEVER this advice is of no use to you tonight as the intelligence factor involved in lighting a fire in a fireplace unused and unswept in two years is around zero.
    Four guns yet only one trigger prepare for a volley.

    Together we can make a difference.
  • Another little tip.

    Whilst the chimney is being swept instead of popping to the kitchen to make the nice but dirty man a cup of tea for his obvously dry throat! Go outside and watch your chimney stack closely for little puffs of soot creeping through the pointing or any render applied this will alert you to any problems there might be in this area and avoid costs later on and possible expensive roof inspections if you have a leak.

    A common reason given for repudiations/declining of claims for ingress of water is "porous brickwork to chimney stack" carrying out this process can alert you to the problem or make you aware that a claim has been unfairly repudiated!
    Four guns yet only one trigger prepare for a volley.

    Together we can make a difference.
  • If you are short of kindling my grandmother always used to make paper sticks. These are newspaper rolled into a tube then tied into a knot. Use paper scrunched up then paper sticks then kindling, lay 2 layers one going horizontally and one vertically on top, to allow the fire to draw. Place the wood on top of this. Make sure if you have a lever to enable the fire to pull ie draw more air that it is out whilst you light the fire. Also make sure your chimney is swept by a reputable firm, not one that will dislodge soot and leave it in the chimney to caught fire. Never had a fire not start for me obviously my grandmother taught me well!!!
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