For the most part, taking care of your chimney and fireplace is simple, especially once you’ve lit a few fires. But in case this is your first time owning a home with a fireplace, we’ve cataloged some “best practices” that you can utilize to ensure that your fires are safe. Grab a cup of coffee or hot cocoa, pull your laptop over to the rocking chair by the fire, and follow these tips as you light a fire the right way, so that you get the most out of your fireplace.
First thing’s first, you should make sure that you have all of the tools that you’ll need within arm’s reach, so that you can manage your fire easily. Here are a few safety tools that you should invest in:
Fireplace tools and holder: You can find fireplace tool sets that have all of the basic tools that you’ll need to move wood and ash, without making a mess or a hazard. Find a set that has a shovel (for ash), a poker (to help move wood around), tongs (for the same purpose), and a broom (to clean up any remaining ash). Most sets come with a hanging rack that can be placed near the fireplace for convenience.
Mesh screen: Embers can be a hazard, which is why you want to keep them contained. For the most part, your fireplace will keep its embers from flying out into your home. However, a backdraft through the chimney or air moving through your home can send embers flying. A mesh screen helps to contain those embers, especially larger embers which may end up starting a fire. Get a mesh screen that fits the size and shape of your fireplace, and keep the screen in place when a fire is lit and you aren’t actively maintaining the fire.
Ash bucket: After every fire, you’ll be left with a pile of soot. Keep an ash bucket handy to scoop up all of the ash that remains after your fires. Be sure to let the embers, ash, and leftover wood cool to the touch before you dispose of any ash. Cool ash can be used in compost (be sure not to use too much!), and it can be used as an ice melt, among other things!
Andirons: Andirons (or firedogs) are fireplace brackets that hold up the wood of a fire. This simple device enables better air circulation, so that your fire burns hotter and with less smoke. In addition, andirons can help to keep the fire contained and in-place while wood rests on the brackets. You can find andirons of all sorts of designs.
Wood holder: If you don’t have a place to store wood near your fire, you can invest in a holder to keep dry wood handy. Just be sure to keep your wood holder well away from the fireplace itself, since a loose ember may ignite the wood in the holder. You can find fire boxes, fire carriers, and other furnishings to hold your firewood.
Fire gloves: Protect your hands with a pair of fire gloves. These gloves are designed to handle high heat, so you can adjust the logs in your fire without worrying about embers scalding your hands. We suggest extra long gloves, since they provide protection for your wrist and part of your arm, as well as your hand.
Hearth rug: If you have hardwood or carpet flooring near your fireplace, then it’s liable to ignite, or it may be damaged by hot embers that settle on the surface, leaving their mark. You can invest in a hearth rug that is designed to safely catch any flying embers. These rugs are flame-resistant, so they shouldn’t ignite thanks to those embers. Plus, you can find a variety of rugs in all sorts of designs, so you can match the aesthetic of your home.