How to Build the Perfect Fire in Your Home This Winter

by Alex ThatcherDecember 19, 2016

Step-by-Step Instructions to Activate the Warmth of Your Hearth

With the leaves in perpetual free-fall, Old Man Winter on his way down from the Arctic to kick us into the dark season, and that Lucky Old Sun on his way to warmer southern climates, our thoughts naturally turn to the artificial warmth of our hearths. But before you reach for the matches and begin what may be an exercise in frustration, let’s take a moment and brush up on how to build the perfect indoor fire.

Before we get started, you’ll need to gather a few essentials: Some newspaper or junk mail, a couple of handfuls of kindling (smaller easier-to-start twigs and sticks), a couple of larger chunks of split, seasoned (dry) firewood, some matches or a lighter. Got everything together? Well, don’t jump ahead, first we need to have a little talk about fire…
tips on how to build an indoor fire


Safety can be boring, everyone knows that, but burning yourself is unpleasant, and burning your house down can be very expensive and get you in trouble with your spouse and other loved ones. First of all, before you even consider building a fire, make sure that your flue (inside the chimney) as been cleaned and inspected by a professional chimney sweep.

Flue fires generally occur when accumulated soot inside the flue catches a spark from the fire in the firebox and ignites the entire inside of your chimney. Also, make sure that your stove or fireplace isn’t full of ash, which is dangerous and inhibits air flow.
tips on how to build an indoor fire

Starting a Fire in an Open Fireplace

Wikihow says that to start a fire in an open fireplace, begin by opening the damper so smoke doesn’t fill your home. Light a match and hold it in the firebox to determine if air is flowing up the chimney and out of your home or not. If it isn’t, try cracking a window to get the air flowing in the correct direction. Never start a fire with air flowing down the chimney into your home. Once you have the air flowing up the chimney, you are free to begin building the fire.

Lay the larger pieces of wood directly on the fire grate or fire dogs. If you have no grate or fire dogs, place the larger pieces of wood directly on the floor of the firebox. Add crumpled up newspaper, then two to three layers of kindling, and then a couple of larger pieces on top. Ignite the newspaper and enjoy.

tips on how to build an indoor fire

The Woodstove

According to Mother Earth News, starting a fire in a woodstove is even easier. Follow all of the steps above until you get to placing the wood. With a woodstove, you start with copious amounts of balled-up newspaper, then add the wood on top, starting with kindling and going bigger as you go. Light the whole thing and wait for a good fire to get going before you attempt to close the doors.
tips on how to build an indoor fire

Enjoy Your Fire

Following these simple instructions should allow you to enjoy a safe, worry-free fire in the depth of winter. Stay safe, stay warm, and gather around the hearth to keep the winter at bay. is the place to dream and discover your ideal home! Are you starting to get the itch to look for your first or next home, but don’t know where to start? You’ve come to the right place! Browse our real estate and lifestyle blog for home buying tips, mortgage guides, DIY ideas, interior design, lifestyle topics, general home inspiration, or just some homes fun. We are sure you can scratch that itch and find all the information and tools you need to help in your home search. Want to start looking at available real estate right now? Head to our home page and check out homes for sale or rent listings all over the country. Happy house hunting!

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About The Author
Alex Thatcher
Alex is a home staging guru who moonlights as a writer. She loves everything about interior design and loves working in the industry. Alex is an expert in finding what makes people light up when they walk into a room, and has made a living by creating interiors that are unique, warm and inviting. When she isn't arranging flowers or making sure she's found the right loveseat for prospective buyers, she writes about her passion — home design.