9 Firewood Burning Tips : The Beginner Guide

Do you have to start a fire burning, but just don’t know where and how to start?

You most probably wonder what fuel you have to use to start a fire, and which firewood to use.

Well, the first thing you need to know about burning firewood is that you should NEVER use any flammable liquids to start a fire. These nine firewood burning tips will teach you how to start wood burning.

Instead, a fire should be started using kindling or a commercial firelighter. Regarding the type of wood to use, read on to find out which firewood is the best, along with some additional tips that should help you get a good fire burning.

Use Newspaper Pieces And Kindling

Now to start a fire, you need about 3-4 newspaper pieces and lots of kindling, which can be anything like bark, splinters or even wood that’s split into 1 or 2” pieces. Then place another section of crumpled newspaper atop the kindling before lighting.

the fire needs sufficient air and wind

It’s important that all the fireplace dampers are opened so that there is sufficient draft in the firebox and chimney flue. Dampers should never be closed down completely when a fire is burning.

This is because the fireplace needs the air not only for combustion purposes but also to help cool the unit’s outer shell. Besides, the wind also reduces the tendency of formation of smoke and creosote deposits on the glass doors once the glass goes cold.

Set the fresh air fan on low and if the fireplace has glass doors, leave them open lest it develops cracks because of the fire’s heat. However, make sure you don’t leave the fire unattended if the doors are kept open. While the fire needs wind and air to burn, too much wind can lead to amber and ashes reaching flammable areas.

Hot Coals

It helps if the fireplace has a bed of hot coals as it facilitates the easy burning of any sized log. Start by burning small pieces of wood for at least 15-20 minutes. Then once the fire gets going, you can start adding larger logs.

While adding wood to the fire, don’t be stingy and add only one log at a time. You need to add 3-4 logs so that there’s a larger surface area for the fire to burn. Instead of just placing logs onto the fire, placing them in a criss-cross manner provides for better combustion.

Placing and handling fire logs

It’s essential that logs are cut to only 16-18 inches in length so that they fit properly into the stove, and will also burn easily. Always place your firewood or fire logs at the back of the fireplace, preferably on a supporting grate. Stroking the fire every 15-20 minutes also helps as it instigates a brisk burn.

Best types of firewood for burning 

You have to be particular about the type of firewood you burn as you can’t expect poor quality wood to produce the best of fires! To do this, you need to know how to choose firewood amongst the different types of wood available.

First and foremost, don’t burn too much of pine as it’s a resinous softwood that will only create more smog and smoke but not produce much heat. Instead, all the broadleaf species like red or white oak, hickory, sugar maple, ironwood or ash are the best options as they burn the best longest and of course, produce maximum heat.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with using softer woods like redwood, white pine, red alder, hemlock, and cedar. The only problem is that these woods tend to burn rather fast and produce minimal heat. Besides, they have the most sap, which is bad for a fire as sap produces sparks and smoke.

Use properly seasoned wood

No matter what type of wood you choose for your fire, it has to be seasoned properly before it is used for burning in the stove or fireplace. Seasoning of wood is an extensive procedure, which cannot be rushed and done overnight. The best-seasoned wood is wood that has been cut, split and stacked for a minimum of six months.

You will know the wood isn’t seasoned well if you notice steam bubbling and hissing out of the end grain as the firewood heats up. Do not use freshly cut wood as it contains about 50% of moisture. Wood has to be seasoned, and reduced to 20-25% moisture content before it’s used for burning. Never use wood with more moisture for burning in fireplace or wood stoves.

It’s only after six months that the wood loses its green color and it’s sap and grows very dry. The well-seasoned wood develops visible cracks and splits, and has darkened ends. Besides, seasoned wood is relatively lightweight. The wood also makes a sharp and distinctive clinking noise whenever it comes in contact with another piece of seasoned wood.

wood has to be split before seasoning and not after

It is always better if you split wet wood into ideal length pieces for burning. However as it is easier to split wet wood than dry wood, you should first split the wood into desired pieces. Only then should you stack them in the sun for about six months so that it has sufficient time to season.

add more logs before hitting the sack

You can keep the stove warm through the night by adding a few more logs to the fire before retiring. It’s better to use the thicker and bigger logs so that you have a warm stove, and coal ready for easier and faster fire stoking in the morning

a well-maintained stove serves you well

Last, but not least, you have to maintain your wood stove well if you want it to serve you well by burning a good fire. You can’t expect a good fire from a poorly maintained stove, which isn’t periodically cleaned. Remove as much of the debris once cool so that the stove is relatively clean and ready for the next fire you need to get going.

These 9 tips should help you start a good fire, and keep it going for as long as you need it!

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