How to safely light a fire in a fireplace or wood heater

If you’re lucky enough to have an open fireplace or wood heater at home, there’s nothing better than settling in on a cold winter's evening to enjoy the warmth and atmosphere it offers. But, before lighting your first fire for the season, we have a few safety tips for you.

Tools and materials

Firelighters

Firewood

Fire starters

Kindling

Poker

Shovel and hearth brush

1. Prepare your fireplace

Your fireplace may already be clean, but if it’s not, you’ll need to clean out any ash or coal before getting started. Make sure there’s a retainment grate or barrier on your fireplace, which acts to contain the fire and keep it in the fireplace. You should also open the flu, dampeners, or vents to ensure there’s good airflow when the fire is lit.

Tip: If you’re not sure when you last cleaned your fire flue, we recommend grabbing some chimney cleaners or a chimney sweep log. These help to prevent build-up of tar, soot and creosote in your chimney or flue, helping to avoid chimney flue fires and improving the safety of your fireplace.

sweeping clean fireplace

2. Stack and light the kindling

Take eight to ten pieces of kindling and stack them in a crosshatch style arrangement, by placing two pieces on the base of the fire vertically, and two pieces on top of those horizontally, repeating once.

Following product instructions, place firelighter bricks or gel amongst the kindling. Using a gas lighter or matches, light the kindling and wait for it to become well alight.

lighting kindling in a fireplace

3. Add the firewood

Once the burning kindling settles, it’s time to add the first pieces of firewood. Place a few pieces of smaller firewood onto the kindling, being sure to allow space between them so air can circulate.  Once these smaller pieces settle and are burning hot, it’s time to add larger logs. Again, be sure to allow good airflow between each log, to prevent smouldering and smoke.

Tip: Ensure your wood is dry so that it lights well and doesn't produce excessive smoke

kindling burning in a fireplace

4. Sit back and enjoy

Now that you've got the fire going, it’s time to relax and stay warm.

In need of a wood fire?

If you don't already own a wood fire heater, read our helpful guide to find the right wood fire heater for you.

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Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.
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