How to light a fire

This is a question we get asked a lot, so here is how it’s done.

Before you start here is some safety information. Please read as fire can be dangerous:

1. Never let minors play with matches or lighters

2. Ensure your chimney has been recently swept.

3. Ensure your fireplace is in good condition, and if you have a wood burner that it’s seals are intact and in good condition.

4. If you are unsure about anything to do with the safely of you, your family or your household with regards to any fireplace/chimney/wood burner get a HETA registered expert in to assess the situation. This is also a good idea when moving into a new property. Fire, smoke and carbon monoxide are all lethal when not controlled and vented in the right way, so if unsure get it checked out by an expert.

5. Assess outside hazards as well – for example a thatched roof. 


Lets Begin

1. Ensure the vents on your woodburner are open.

2. Place a fire lighter or a little scrunched up newspaper in your woodburner. Place a handful or 2 of kindling on top, leaving plenty of air gaps.

3. Light the newspaper using a long match, taking care to keep fingers clear.

4. As the fire gets going add more kindling and some small bits of wood, taking care not to smother the fire or to burn yourself.

5. Continue adding larger bits of wood. After  5 – 10 minutes you should begin to have some embers. Add more small wood , then one or 2 logs. 


Some woodburners allow you to close the door on the handle so that a small air gap remains. This accelerates the burning as the air rushes in, and is useful at the beginning to get things going.

Most woodburners take 20 – 30 minutes to get really hot. Once they are, they are much better at dealing with slightly damp logs, and are much more efficient in general. The vents should be left open or partially open until this point.

Most wood burners allow themselves to be shut right down so that they burn very slowly, but many newer burner have a tertiary air inlet which stays open all the time – this means they burn quicker but burn cleaner with less smoke and produce less pollution.

If you live in a smokeless zone – e.g. in a city – you can still use a wood burner provided you get a ‘smokeless’ type which has been approved by DEFRA. although these still produce some smoke, they burn far cleaner and more efficient. An example would be the ‘Yorkshire’ made by Dunsley, which is approved for smokeless zones in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Always keep your woodburner well maintained and empty the ash draw and ash from the firebox regularly (although it is a good idea to leave a thin bed of as on the bottom of the firebox. 

Above all exercise caution when using fires indoors, and if you are at all unsure about anything get a registered HETA expert in to access the situation.

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