Help me light the bloody open fire!!

(26 Posts)
CuddyMum Tue 03-Dec-13 15:05:27

Had the chimneys swept today - one was not too bad and the other had an enormous nest and twigs down it. Anyway, I've got kindling, firelighters, scrunched up newspapers, seasoned logs and long matches. I thought I'd start with the lounge fire but can't seem to get the thing going. Initially, it is alight thanks to the firelighters and the newspaper but then after that it just doesn't seem to get going. I had one of those magic log things and that is currently burning away quite professionally in the dining room along with some kindling. What am I doing wrong? Any tips welcome.

VivaLeBeaver Tue 03-Dec-13 15:11:53

You need to build a teepee out of the kindling and have knotted up newspaper underneath/inside the teepee. Light the paper.

FlightofFancy Tue 03-Dec-13 15:19:18

Make sure there's a draft - a window open a crack - it feels counterproductive when you're trying to warm up the room, but is needed to get the chimmney to draw properly.

Is this in a grate or a firebasket type thing? If the latter, try raising it on a couple of bricks or similar, again, getting air in from beneath will help it draw - can blow gently at the bottom of the fire (or use belows if you have some).

Layer of scrunched up newspaper, firelighters amongst it, kindling strategically placed around firelighters, just a bit of coal/logs until it's going, then add more.

(Having recently moved, I miss my open fire!)

JudgyOldBag Tue 03-Dec-13 15:35:05

I always imagine you have to give the fire something to 'reach up to'

So yes, a teepee out of kindling, then other more sturdy wood above and around that, and when the kindling collapses, but a few more bits on top of the wood...

Don't bury it, and don't put coal on unless you have a sturdy 'frame' for it to stand on. Coal won't light if it's sitting directly on top of burning paper.

Damnautocorrect Tue 03-Dec-13 15:37:48

Good advice above.
Sometimes despite the best building of a fire it just doesn't want to go and that's why they invented firelighters

noddyholder Tue 03-Dec-13 15:39:40

99p shop has those paper bag logs I bought about 60

Takver Tue 03-Dec-13 15:40:22

Good advice here - also, you need to have increasingly big bits of wood, if that makes sense, not go from firelighters to full sized logs.

In my rayburn I do a couple of sheets of newspaper, small kindling interspersed with bits of cardboard, then bigger kindling say thickness of 2 fingers together, then when that lot is caught add small split logs (say thickness of my wrist) then when they are going well add full sized split logs.

Personally for a wood fire I wouldn't bother with firelighters - newspaper and a wee bit of cardboard are free!

enormouse Tue 03-Dec-13 15:41:54

Like viva and judgy have said, a little pyramid/teepee works best.
Firelighter, then spills or kindling/sticks on top and then a little pile of coal on top of that.

MoreThanChristmasCrackers Tue 03-Dec-13 15:43:58

Hello,

I used to find rolling the newspaper rather thinly then sort of knotting it or making rings out of them helped.
Whatever kindling you use needs to be burning underneath your main source, so coal/ wood.

CuddyMum Tue 03-Dec-13 16:13:06

Noddy's suggestion of the Pound Shop logs is sounding tempting right now. I wonder whether the logs I have ought to be halved again. I'm not sure I would have any sort of flame without the firelighters and I've used loads - so not cost effective really. I've stuck a log and more kindling on the paper bag log in the dining room and that is still burning nicely. I had rather hoped for a romantic roaring flame in the living room but seem to have ended up with a warm pile of ash and a singed log smile

I will of course try again tomorrow with the teepee of kindling, rolled up paper and firelighter. Thank you for your suggestions everyone.

Takver Tue 03-Dec-13 17:47:11

I'd just try splitting your logs smaller, or at least some of them.

CuddyMum Tue 03-Dec-13 18:35:14

Well, I managed to get and keep the thing going - I feel quite pleased with myself. It was mainly down to blowing, poking adding more kindling and paper! It eats logs - I think I've used about 5 since 3:00pm. I have realised that I may need to get a fire guard as some of the burning bits jumped onto the rug! I will split some of the bigger logs though.

CuddyMum Mon 09-Dec-13 17:14:37

OK - I am officially crap at keeping a fire going! Is there such a thing as a high output gas stove?

mistlethrush Mon 09-Dec-13 17:16:45

A log burner is a whole lot easier than a normal open fire and throws out a lot more warmth for the wood you put on.

CallMeNancy Mon 09-Dec-13 17:18:27

Pop a Hoover dishwasher in the grate & stand back

see thread about Hoover's response to their burning dishwasher

mineofuselessinformation Mon 09-Dec-13 17:21:14

A fire guard is a must. Any wood can 'spit', potentially causing a fire in your room, not the grate! Unless you want to continually feed the fire with wood (as you've found), burning a mix of wood and coal is a good option.

Iris445 Mon 09-Dec-13 17:22:05

Taker..that's how I do it :-)
Easy and always susseful.
You need a small axe to chop a few logs down, soft wood breaks easy for this.

Oddsocksrus Mon 09-Dec-13 18:11:01

Lighting onto a cold hearth with a cold clean chimney is really hard, don't despair.
See above for drafts etc

When I was a child we had no central heating and I had to lay/light the fire when I got home from school....
For a cold chimney and heart hand no ashes..
I put two quarter split logs in a v with the narrow bit to the back, these stand on a platform of kindling (.this has to be super dry)
So you get a waffle with a v laid on top

Fill the gap in the V with balls of paper with a firefighter in the middle. Single sheets of paper balled not rolled.
Make a wigwam of kindling over the top

Light the paper and blow through the waffle of kindling until the firefighter catches
Wait until the flames are through the kindling and then lay thin, light split logs over the gaps in the kindling.

Cold fireplaces with clean chimneys need lots of forced air through the bottom of the stack to encourage the flames

Good luck, you will get there

CuddyMum Mon 09-Dec-13 18:17:29

Thank you Oddsocks - I will try again! smile

I resorted to those easy log things on Saturday as we had people over. They looked very impressive but didn't last long enough.

littleredsquirrel Mon 09-Dec-13 18:21:56

Once you're going with the easy logs though you should be able to top the fire up with normal wood so you're effectively just using the easylog to start the fire (not that Ive ever used them).

Top tip is to keep the lint from your tumble dryer. it makes a good firelighter and is free,

Lucylouby Mon 09-Dec-13 21:51:25

I am a bit weird apparently in the way I do the fire. 10 bits of newspaper, in single sheets, rolled up in to balls. There is no science to the way I do this, I often get the three year old to do this for me. Then I chuck on some sticks, we use pallet wood sticker up if we have any or we chopped down a tree in the garden earlier in the year and I chopped all the smaller twigs and dried them out, we still have bags of this stuff for fires in the shed. Next I put on a few bits of coal, smaller bits are best, but I tend to just shake the coal scuttle over the top. I then get a couple of washed pampers baby wipes and stick them under the sticks. (I don't even know how I found out these were fab as fire lighters, but I don't have an endless supply now dc is out of nappies. I have been saving them all summer. Just chucked them in the machine after use, then put them in the stick basket ready for use). Light the baby wipes, which seem to burn for long enough to get the sticks going, then once the little sticks are going, put on bigger sticks, then a log once it's going nicely. My DH can not follow my instructions though. He is far more methodical about fire lighting making circles out of coal and making perfect pyramids. Keep the embers going by adding coal every now and then, it's the coal that keeps the logs going I've found. It took me a fair while to become a fire lighting expert, but now I know, it takes so little time to get it going but far longer to collect the sticks/logs/coal etc.

CuddyMum Tue 10-Dec-13 08:43:21

More useful tips - thank you. Had the most successful fire yet last night thanks to the addition of coal and cardboard (and tumble fluff!). smile

Lurkymclurker Tue 10-Dec-13 08:57:51

I love our fire - however I am rubbish at lighting it - I can get it going with time but no matter how I stack it doesn't go straight away, Dp on the other hand has it sorted.

We keep the fire going by adding a mix of quick burning stuff and slow burning so the quick burn (kindling, twigs, envelopes) keeps the flame for the proper chunks of wood (and coal) to catch - quite often it looks as if the fire has gone out with big logs, if you turn them over (safely) then the air will draw some more flame smile

Dp always reminds me to leave air gaps and to not put too much heavy stuff on top, also to "leave it alone" as apparently I poke it too much.

Good luck smile also, get the word out you have a fire, no end of people will save wood for you and you can burn the most random things, this year we have had chopping boards, front doors, trees, roof slats and fence panels smile all freeeeeeeee

Lucylouby Tue 10-Dec-13 12:17:46

Yes, in the early days I was always poking the fire. The novelty has worn off now and I leave it alone as i now don't have time, so tend to leave it alone a lot more. We are careful burning stuff that has been painted or varnished as we were told it gives of fumes that can be really harmful. It wouldn't bother me so much if we didn't have three young children, but there lungs wouldn't be able to take so much of the fumes without damaging them, so we try to stick to untreated stuff and logs. I find loads of wood in the park by us though, and regularly walk home dragging a branch behind me!

BrownSauceSandwich Tue 10-Dec-13 19:21:46

I'm pretty good at getting the fire going. DH is crap, but he thinks he's great, and that the smoke is just a sign that it's all going according to plan. Sigh.

Remember that wood fires prefer a bed of ash, so don't be too fastidious about cleaning it out.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now