Create the perfect log fire

Making the perfect log fire comes with practice

There’s no one way to create a perfect log fire as all fireplaces, fuels, wood burning appliances and stoves are so different. Lighting a fire should be simple and not subject to Health & Safety procedures – but it is always potentially dangerous so please take proper precautions.

The advice we give below is not exhaustive and is for guidance only.  Should you choose to act upon any of the information given you should do so at your own risk.  We will accept no liability from actions arising from the information set out in these web pages.

There are three steps to creating your fire

  1. Remove the leftovers of your last fire
  2. Prepare the fuel bed
  3. Prepare the fuel (kindling and fire wood) and light

Things you will need:

Small metal shovel
Soft brush
Fire tongs
Fire poker
A metal container for removing ash and cinder
Lighter or matches
Newspaper to use as tinder, or firelighters
Wood logs


Before you do anything, you must make sure that your fire appliance is in good order. Your chimney should really be cleaned twice a year by a qualified chimney sweep and the room where your fire is situated must have suitable ventilation.

If you have children or animals, please make arrangements to keep them away from the fire lighting area. Once the fire is lit, don’t leave the fire alone until it is safe to do so and a fireguard is in place.

If you have an open fire and it has been used before you will need to clear out the leftovers of the previous fire. For open fires it is best to assume that the previous fire remains contain hot ashes and cinders – you never know and it is always better to be safe.

Move your fireguard out of the way of the lighting area but leave it within easy reach.

Tidy the grate

Rake over the grate using your poker and push all the old ash down so that it falls into the ash pan underneath. Use your brush to sweep up so that your fireplace and the hearth are clean.  You may have some part-burnt pieces of logs or firewood left in the grate and these are ideal to help get your new fire off to a good start, so don’t clear these away, just get rid of the ash.

Empty the ash pan

Emptying the ash pan is important for two reasons – firstly to provide good ventilation below the fire grate to help with combustion, and secondly because a build up of ash beneath a hot fire can be dangerous.

Cinders that have fallen through the fire grate can remain hot for many hours, so be careful. A metal container placed onto the hearth is ideal – keep away from carpets as the heat will transfer and burn your carpet! Remove any decorative parts of the fire bed to gain access to the ash pan. Have your container close to hand and slowly (the slower the better) tip the ash into your container. Be careful how quickly you tip it as you may end up covered in a cloud of ash if you do it too fast.

Remove the ash from the room and replace the component parts of the fire bed so that you are in a position to lay your fire.

Lay the fire bed

Lighting the fire first time is easy to achieve, providing you don’t try and take shortcuts.

Firstly, lay some tinder in the firebed. A wide range of materials can be used for this purpose. Most people use scrunched up newspaper. On top of this place 2 or 3 firelighters and then on top of this 10-12 pieces of firewood kindling.

Some people don’t bother with the newspapers or use other tinder materials entirely but over time you will get an idea of which works best for you given your access to resources and materials.

TOP TIP! – It’s a good idea to bring kindling, firewood and tinder into the home a couple of days before you intend to use it – it helps them dry out that little bit more.

Light the fire

Light the newspaper or firelighters with a taper, match or lighter. Then…


Once the flames are established, add some small logs to the fire and once these are burning well add some larger logs, always looking to place logs where it can help the fire spread to fill the grate.  Most fires go out because people are too impatient and load the fire with fuel before the base of the fire has established itself.

It’s best to remember that the route to a successful first time lighting is A – get the fire started, then B – help the fire grow – slowly!

When you are happy that there is sufficient fuel on the fire, replace your fireguard and clear away any fire making materials.

Then sit back and enjoy! The above applies equally well to starting a coal fire, but in this instance you need to be especially aware of not putting too much fuel on too soon.