After a chilly day, you go to the fireplace and notice the fire is out. You investigate a little and find no wood left on the grate. After throwing a few logs in, you still can’t get the flames back up.
This may lead you to wonder how to stack wood in your fireplace for optimum performance. Let’s look at log arrangements to help you get the most out of your hearth.
What to Consider for Wood Placement
Most people think starting a fire is as simple as stacking wood and creating a spark. However, there’s much more to it than that.
There are a few considerations you have to make when arranging wood. These include:
If you’ve ever tried piling wooden logs on top of each other, you know how tricky it can be. Even with straight edges, they tend to roll around and topple over.
This is fine while the logs are dormant, but it can get quite dangerous when you involve flames. The wooden pieces can fall out of the fireplace and leave a trail of destruction.
So, you have to ensure that there’s balance when you build a fire. That’s usually easier said than done.
Since fire consumes wood, you have to place them in a formation that won’t buckle. It must keep its shape for as long as possible to avoid runaway logs.
When you build a fire, you must remember that it doesn’t have set borders. So the flames are free to create whatever shape they like. Not only that, but they also tend to spread.
So, you need to know where the edges of the fire will be. If you think of a burning match, the flames create a droplet shape around the tip.
This is similar to what happens in your fireplace. The flames will go a little further out than your wood.
For this reason, you need to ensure your log stack is within the confines of the fireplace. It’s best to leave about a two-inch border around the pile for added safety.
Finally, you have to be aware of the airflow dynamics. To build any fire, you need three factors:
Wood provides the fuel, and the flames provide the heat. However, to keep the blaze going, you need a constant oxygen supply. The more oxygen you have, the hotter your fire will burn.
Luckily, the gas is all around us. Yet, if you pack wooden logs tightly on each other, some areas may not get enough oxygen. For this reason, it’s key to have open airflow channels so the fire can keep going.
Stacking the wood too far apart can also become an issue. The flames may have trouble jumping from one log to another, so they’ll go out.
Components of a Fireplace Fire
Before you attempt building a fire, it’s good practice to ensure you have all the components. As you already know, you need wood, but that’s not all.
Even though wood is flammable, it doesn’t catch fire easily. That means it could take hours for you to light it with a match.
For this reason, you’ll want a fire starter. This is a highly combustible material that can usually burn for about 30 minutes. It’ll give you a small controlled flame.
If you don’t want to buy a starter, you can use scrap newspapers. They won’t last as long, but they’ll give you the jolt you need.
Still, this spark isn’t enough to get your wood burning. So, you’ll need a middle medium like kindling to bridge the gap.
Stacking Wood for a Traditional Fire
There are multiple ways you can place wood in a fireplace. The most common by far is the traditional fire stack.
This involves building the flames from the bottom up. The flames start at the base of the fireplace and gradually travel up. To do that, you can follow these steps:
-Clean out your fireplace (remove ash and any other debris).
-Place the firestarter under your grate.
-Stack the kindling on top of the grate in a crisscross formation.
-Add the wood following the same pattern.
This process is simple enough, but there are a few tricks to getting it right. First, if you don’t have a fireplace grate, you can place the kindling directly on the starter.
However, make sure you spread out the starter in an even layer to avoid balance issues.
As for the crisscross formation, place your first log diagonally in your fireplace. Then, you can add a log facing the opposite way.
You can keep building up as long as the tower is stable. If you notice any wobbling, remove a log or two.
Before you add flames to the mix, look at the points of contact. Each log should be touching at least one other log. This can help the fire keep going for as long as possible.
Stacking Wood for a Top-Down Fire
As you can guess from the name, this fire burns from the top and works its way down. You use the same materials as a traditional fire, but you flip the order.
To do this, you can follow these steps:
-Stack two layers of logs in a crisscross formation.
-Add a layer of kindling following the same pattern.
-Place the firestarter on top of the center of your pile.
There are a couple of benefits to building a fire this way. The first is that you don’t have to worry about balance. Since the fire burns from the top down, your fire is less likely to topple over.
As for the second, this fire burns slower. It’ll take a while for the flames to reach the bottom.
However, there’s a clear disadvantage. With this method, you can only pile the logs so high. This means you’ll have to add more wood later on if you want the fire to last.
How to stack wood in your fireplace? When piling wood, there are a few factors you should be aware of. The logs need balance, safe borders, and good airflow.
With that in mind, you can stack wood the traditional way. This involves the fire starter on the bottom, then kindling and logs on top. There’s also the top-down fire where you reverse the order.