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Build a Fire: What to Do, Not to Do

Build a Fire in Your Fireplace: Do's and Don'ts
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A dozen tips on what to do and what to avoid doing to build a fire easily and safely in your fireplace:

  • Do have a chimney sweep inspect and clean your flue annually.
  • Do take the time to ‘stack’ your fire correctly to build a fire that will light easily and remain lit:
   3-4 balled-up sheets of newspaper under the grate, then
   a handful of tinder: slivers of pine or fatwood, then
   4-5 pieces of kindling : 1 inch square sticks of firewood.
   Add firewood only after the kindling is burning.

  • Do warm your flue before lighting the fire: Make a “torch” by twisting together 2-3 sheets of newspaper, lighting it, and holding it near the opening of the flue, near the top of your firebox.
To build a fire, use dry, split hardwood that has seasoned at least 6 months.
  • Don’t use salt-treated or painted wood in your fireplace.
    (Fumes from salt-treated or painted wood may be toxic.)Do not use painted wood to build a fire.
  • Don’t burn more pine or other softwood than necessary to get the fire started.
(Burning softwood deposits creosote in your flue, increasing the chance of a chimney fire.)


  • Don’t burn newspaper or magazine pages with colored print or gift wrapping paper.
(The fumes may be toxic.)


  • Don’t ever use gasoline or kerosene to start a fire in your fireplace.
(An explosion is a real possibility.)
When you build a fire in your fireplace, woodstove or fire pit, follow these tips to have a fire that will easily light and remain lit.

What to Do and What Not to Do to Build a Fireplace Fire
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Tom has been writing for the FireplaceMall.com blog since 2011 and has loved sitting in front of the fireplace since he was an itty-bitty boy.

Posted in Safety, Using Your Fireplace Tagged with:
17 comments on “Build a Fire: What to Do, Not to Do
  1. Thank you for the tips! I didn’t know that it was bad to burn wood with paint or salt-treatment on it was bad. I’ll make sure to follow all the do’s and don’ts of making a fire. Is it okay to use gasoline on an outside fire?

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