Top Tips on Lighting a Coal Fire

Having a fire burning at home is the ultimate in Hygge comfort. But getting that fire lit can be a real pain. You may think that getting wood and coal to burn would be a simple process, but in actual fact, it’s never simple.

As it is not so much of a common task in modern life, not many people know the best way to light a fire. Taking some tips from fire lighting experts can make lighting a fire much easier:

  1. Clean Grate

First things first, you want a clean fireplace in which to start building your fire. Old ash and cinders will restrict air flow and make it difficult to get a fire going. Rake out the remains of your last fire, making sure to pick out cinder for re-use. The cinders are the lightweight dark lumps, not the powdery pieces of roasted shale.

  1. The Fires Base

Start your fire off with dry newspaper. Don’t use pages from a glossy magazine, as they will produce a lot of smoke. Screw the paper into rough balls (not too tight) so they still retain a good internal surface area to promote burning.

The paper balls should cover your grate, yet have plenty of space for air flow between them. You will only need one layer to ignite the wood on top; too much paper will clog up the fire-bars and cause stack-collapse problems.

  1. Wooden Layer

You can’t light coal with paper, so you will need to start with wood. Layer smaller pieces of kindling alternately in layers, so it looks like a game of Jenga. Leave plenty of spaces between the wood for air flow.

Choose a mixture of thick and thin wood so that you have a balance of heat-giving easy burners, and thicker pieces that will sustain the fire long enough to light the coal.

  1. Coal layer

Place a pile of coal on top of your wooden stack. Keep the pile central so pieces don’t fall away down the sides. Golf sized pieces of coal will start burning best, then once the fire is burning, you can include the bigger and smaller pieces.

  1. Light Your Fire

Ignite the paper from underneath, in multiple places, to get as much lit as possible. Getting the fire going as quickly as possible is important as the heat needs to reach a level where it will ignite the wood above.

The coal needs time to light, so leave the fire now for around thirty minutes.

Poke the fire at regular intervals to disperse any ash and to break-up the coals. This maintenance will keep the fire burning for as long as possible. If you are using a home fire,  smokeless coal is suggested to reduce the amount of smoke pollution in populated areas.

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