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How to build the perfect fire in your wood burning fireplace or stove

If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove in your house, you’ve probably been there: You think you’ve started the perfect fire only to turn back to the fire a few minutes later and find that it has completely flamed out. While each person has their own secret methods for building the perfect fire that will start easily and burn for hours, there are a few best practices you can follow to burn wood most efficiently.

Pay close attention to the wood you burn

You can build the perfect fire, but it’s all for naught if the wood you burn is wet, green or rotted. If you purchase wood from a dealer, make sure it’s dry and properly seasoned. If you split your own wood, dry and season it by stacking it off the ground and covering it for at least six months. Regardless of whether it’s wood you gather yourself or wood you purchase from a dealer, proper storage is important. More storage tips can be found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

Fire building tips

When you’re using dry wood, stacking your logs in layers, in opposite directions is your best bet – also known by many as the “log cabin” method. When compared with the “tepee” method of leaning logs against one another over a smaller fire made of kindling in the middle, the log cabin method promotes a more evenly distributed burn. It also gives you a better base for adding more logs.
Conventional wisdom might dictate starting your fire underneath your logs – heat travels up, right? But there’s good evidence that suggests you should actually build your fires from the top down, layering smaller pieces on top of a base made of larger logs. This way, the fire grows hotter and hotter and it gradually works its way down to consuming the larger pieces of wood, and you’re left with a hot base of large logs on which you can stack new wood. When you start your kindling, simple fire starters like clustered wax shavings or pine cones can make things even easier than using old newspaper.

Type of fireplace matters

Fireplace design also plays a large role in how efficiently your fires burn. Today, many wood burning stoves and fireplaces are designed with efficiency in mind. And energy-efficient fireplace and wood stove inserts can be used to maximize efficiency in existing units. For example, our Country Flame wood stoves and fireplace inserts all have ventilation features that maximize burn efficiency, as well as catalytic systems that allow you to get the most heat from your logs.
By combining adequately dried and properly stored wood with good fire-building techniques and an energy efficient wood stove or fireplace, you’ll ensure that you’re saving time and money, as well as minimizing the amount of air pollution you generate from your fires
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