How to Use a Wood Burning Fireplace

When using a wood burning fireplace, the most important thing to consider is safety. There are a number of steps that can be taken to ensure that using your wood burning fireplace is a fun, safe and enjoyable experience.

You will need

  • Seasoned wood
  • Carbon monoxide alarm
  • General fire starting tools
  • Clean newspapers


  1. When starting a fire, check to be sure the damper is open and only use clean newspaper and dry kindling to get the flame going. Don’t overload the firebox with wood–start gradually, and add wood as the fire gains strength.
  2. Used seasoned wood, as it is the cleanest burning wood, and most efficient fuel for your fireplace. Seasoned wood is wood that has been allowed to dry outdoors for at least one year. It will appear dark grey or brown and will have loose bark and cracked ends and sides.
  3. Install a carbon monoxide alarm in the area near your fireplace. Never leave an open fire unattended and ensure to keep the fire screen in place when you are not actively tending the fire.
  4. During the fireplace season, clean out the firebox of your fireplace once a week, ensuring to wait until everything has had a chance to cool down. Open the damper to allow flying ash to go up, not out into the room.
  5. Remove unburned wood and excess ash, but leave a layer of ash to act as insulation.


  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected once a year by a professional chimney sweep. A professional can advice you on everything from creosote build-up to animals nesting in your chimney.
  • Keep all flammable materials away from the fireplace and hearth areas.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher on hand.


  • Use a vacuum to clean up ash: the air pressure from the vacuum could re-ignite smouldering embers.
  • Start more fire than you can finish. Do not start a big roaring fire during mild winter, when you’ll be leaving soon or going to bed. If you’re looking for atmosphere and not heat, a manufactured log or a few pieces of wood are all that’s needed.

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