How To Start The Longest Fire In A Fireplace [5 Steps]

Dominic Mitton
By Dominic  • Reviewed by Ben  • Updated:   October 19, 2023
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It doesn’t matter if you just bought the fireplace or you have had it for a while – you should always want to have the best fire possible.

A lot of people think that quality fire depends only on the wood we use, but that couldn’t be further from the real truth.

There are a couple of different factors and methods that cause the fire to be quality and long.

I’ll reveal two main fire starting methods you should use, but first, I want you to take safety precautions and do the following:

  • Check the chimney – Take some time and inspect your chimney and check if everything works flawlessly. You should even hire a professional once a year to make sure everything is alright.
  • Check the air – Check the room if it’s ventilated and that it doesn’t have any gases inside the room where your fireplace is located.
  • Add the grate – If you have a fireplace that doesn’t have a grate, make sure to add one for safety reasons. If you don’t have one yet, check out this grate on Amazon.

5 Steps to Start a Fire in a Fireplace

Step 1: Prepare the wood

Use an ax to prepare the softwood into long strips perfect for kindling. Ideally, the wood should still be large.

You should only use dry wood as it has better burning longevity and it will heat your home better.

Step 2: Clean the fireplace

If you want it to perform at its best, you need to take time to clean it and maintain it.

The most important thing here is to remove all the ashes and you can pretty much do it with any ash vacuum cleaner.

Also, don’t forget to clean the glass, so you can enjoy a nice spark while reading a book or watching TV.

Step 3: Place the goods

In this step, you should first place a newspaper and then lay out the kindling in a “pyramid” pattern. You can even place it in a cross pattern.

If you want to fasten up the fire, make sure to place additional newspaper between the kindling.

This approach is often seen with wood burning fireplace inserts.

Step 4: Light it up

Roll a newspaper like a torch and light it up. 

Grab it by the end and hold it in the chimney for a minute as it will create an upward draft.

This is important because of the airflow which will improve the quality of the fire later on.

Now, grab a lighter or a match and light up the newspaper you positioned previously below and between the kindling.

Step 5: Maintain the fire

After you’ve set up the fire, you should maintain it at a slow and constant temperature.

You can use the metal stick that comes with a fireplace to move the kindling if needed.

Also, don’t forget to add more wood if you see the fire slowly disappearing.

You can check out all these steps in action in this step-by-step video.

This is the most common method to start a fire and it works like magic.

However… I want to reveal another method that might fit you even better.

Fireplace Illustration

The Up-Down Fire Starting Method

The process has a couple of different approaches than the previous method, so I’ll keep it straight to the point.

Step 1: Place the wood by the size large-medium-small and make sure that the largest logs are placed across the fireplace grate.

Step 2: Place smaller logs across the larger logs you laid in the previous step.

Step 3: Add another layer of medium logs in the opposite direction of the layer below.

Step 4: On the top layer, use kindling, and don’t let the stack take up more than 50% of the height of your fireplace. It could damage it.

Step 5: Light the fire starting from the top and maintain it for a couple of minutes before moving away from the fireplace.

You should check the method in-depth in this Chimney Safety Institute Of America article.

Which Method Should You Use?

Most people are saying great things about the up-down method and how it’s better than the first one.

Personally, I think it all depends on your needs and goals.

My goal is to start the fire as quickly as possible without too much effort, so I’m a fan of the first so-called “log cabin” method.

If you’re someone who wants a clearer burn and less smoke, then you might go with the up-down method.

Also, I believe a lot of it depends on the fireplace and the burner size.

You should try out both and see which one fits you better.

If you found this article helpful, you should learn untold things about fireplaces and how to choose the right one.

Hey there! I am Benas, the founder and content editor at Home Caprice. Thanks for reading the article. I hope you were able to find what you were looking for. I and my team are here to simplify heating and cooling for everyone. Please have a look at the About page for more details about our website and feel free to check out our editorial process.