Yes off course, it’s easy when you know how but for some people, this might be the first time they have had to light a coal fire and whilst not exactly rocket science, creating the perfect fire can be tricky so follow these simple steps and soon you should be enjoying the warmth of a natural fire in your fireplace, or stove.
Getting the Prep Right
As many of us have discovered, that perfect fire doesn’t come about by simply just setting a match to some wood. You need to do a little prep work to ensure you achieve that warm, long-lasting fire.
The Clean Up
Whilst the urge is there to clear everything out from the previous fire, do not completely remove all of the leftover ash from your grate or wood stove. Instead, leave about ½ inch of ash at the base.
Wipe down the hearth before you start another fire. If it is a closed fire, first clean off the glass doors on your fireplace or stove. A good tip is to take a damp paper towel, dab it in the ash on the ground and then wipe it on the glass to take any soot off.
Daily de-ashing will help with fuel economy and will also reduce the risk of carbon monoxide escaping into the room. Never let ash build up in the ash pan to the point that it is touching the underside of the grate. Ensure that the ash is disposed of properly and never place the ash in a bin whilst still warm.
Get some air flow by making sure the damper is open. This will help fuel the fire once lit.
If you feel a downdraft of air from the chimney or when you open the fireplace doors, it may help to open a window on the windward side of the house (the one where the wind is hitting) about 1 inch to try and get a proper circulation of air flow in the room.
Lighting the Fire
Now it’s time to set up the wood and get the fire started.
You will need some kindling to get started. There is little point in trying to start the fire with logs as they are too big and therefore too difficult to light. Instead, start out with small pieces of dry kindling— Kingsberry Fuels large sticks are perfect for the job! The kindling should be smaller in diameter than your wrist.
Place the pieces of kindling in one direction, either front to back in the fireplace or side to side. If lighting a wood stove, make sure the kindling is aligned from front to back, since that is the direction of internal air flow.
Once you have the first layer down, add four or five more layers of kindling in alternating directions. This allows air to flow through the kindling helping the flames to spread.
Insert a fire starter such as a fire lighter or balled up newspaper under the bottom layer of kindling. Put some additional fire starters around the bottom centre of the kindling.
Carefully strike a match and light the fire starters. If lighting a wood burner or multi fuel stove, ensure all air controls are fully open. If an open fire, open the draught regulator.
Feeding the Flame
If you’re not vigilant, the fire you’ve just started will die out once it burns through all the kindling. Give it a few minutes to let the flames build and then, once nearly all the kindling is burning, it is time to add some fuel to your fire. Kingsberry Fuels recommend our heat logs or our traditional logs. Stack the logs around the kindling, allowing some room between each to let the air circulate.
As the fire may spark, a close mesh spark guard should now be used with your open fire to prevent sparks from hitting the floor in front of the fireplace. If it is a closed fire or multi-fuel stove, close the appliance doors.
If you had to open a window in the room earlier, you can now close it and retain the heat in the room.
Maintaining the life of the Fire
With the fire burning brightly, you can add more logs or for a longer lasting fire, add some coal when the fire starts to die out.
Remember, when refuelling your fire or appliance, the best results will be achieved by ensuring there is the correct level of draught (you will have turned down the draught previously once the fire got established. You should now increase it again).
Once the fire has caught the new fuel, reduce the draught again to achieve the desired burning rate.
Why not check out our fuel guide for some guidance on the best solid fuel for you and your appliance.