There are right and wrong ways to do many things. Washing your car with rocks? Probably not a good idea. Opening a window by throwing a rock through it? You might cool off pretty quickly, but closing it back up will take more time. Reading a book with the lights off? You won’t get too far in that book. You might not be aware that there are right and wrong ways to build a good fire in your fireplace as well!

Build it Right

Burning Firewood Correctly - Chicago IL - Jiminy Chimney MasonryIn the first place, let’s look at how to build the fire correctly. There are several methods, and one of those is the upside-down method. This may take a little getting used to, but it’s a clean burning fire that doesn’t take a lot of extra attention. You start out by putting the logs on the bottom, with larger logs on the bottom and topped by some smaller logs. After this, you add some kindling, which is just some smaller twigs that will get burned more quickly. Top this with some tinder – crumpled newspaper or some other material that will start quickly. All you have to do now is light a match and get that tinder going. You’ll soon have a good, clean fire burning and you’ll be able to sit back and enjoy it without much fuss.

If you want to stick with a more traditional method of fire building, you can use the log cabin method. Start with a couple of logs, and place them parallel with each other and with the back of the fireplace. After this, put some kindling in the middle of the logs. Then add two more logs, laid on top of the original logs but perpendicular. If you want, you can add one more layer. Then just light the kindling on fire. This is another tried and true method of getting a fire going.

Pick the Right Firewood

Before you build that fire, you’ll want to pick the right firewood. The most important thing to know is that your firewood needs to be seasoned properly. You’ll need to let your firewood sit for at least six months, and longer won’t hurt. If you don’t cut your own firewood, there are ways to tell if the wood you’re buying has been properly seasoned. First off, lighter weight wood is dryer wood, and that’s good. Another way to tell is if there are cracks in the wood, especially around the cut edges. You can try knocking two pieces together, also – it makes a higher pitched noise when it’s seasoned. Unseasoned wood will have a stronger smell to it, as well. Seasoned wood will burn more readily and will be less smoky than unseasoned wood, and it will also not add to creosote build-up as quickly.


It’s important to build a hot burning fire so that creosote doesn’t build up as quickly, but the only way to know for sure that your creosote level is low is to have a good chimney sweep company like Jiminy Chimney check it out. Call and schedule your inspection today!