How to Start a Fire in a Stove or Wood Insert

Properly starting a fire in a wood stove or insert is a science, and the average person doesn’t know that. Good fires start slow, and then becomes bigger as it sits. Don’t don’t just throw in a match with the logs, learn the correct way to do it!


The best type of wood to use in a wood burning fireplace is dry and seasoned wood. You want the fire to have a clean burn, with mostly heat and a little amount of smoke. Wood that is seasoned is usually used indoors, but some people use it outside for bonfires and fire pits. Seasoned wood is very light because it is stripped of moisture, and that’s the type you want to use. A dense log will be harder to light and will cause a bunch of smoke.

Before Lighting

Newspaper is the best material for kindling the fire because of how dry and thin it is, and flammable. You don’t want to use magazines or catalogs because they are made from thicker paper, and the chemicals used in the ink are not good to breathe in. Make sure the scrunch the newspaper up and make a layer of it at the bottom of the stove before laying down the wood. Use split logs, instead of round, when laying the fire. Split wood is easier to light, and you can add in round logs after the fire is lit.

Stacking the Wood

Try to lay the wood down in a jenga pattern and put the first layer of logs in a vertical pattern with some space in between each log. Alternate between vertical and horizontal until all of your desired wood is placed. This makes the flames rise at a steady pace, rather than all at once. A teepee-style wood structure goes up in flames right away, which is not what you want. Stacking them in a jenga-style way will ensure a longer lasting fire. Also, add wood chips to the top of your stack of wood and around the bottom.

Lighting Your Fire

Before lighting the fire, check to see that your stove is set to allow the maximum amount of air into its box. You want oxygen to enter because flames are attracted to it. Light the newspaper that you had put in the stove and leave the door to the stove open for about 5 minutes or less while everything settles. Closing the door too quickly after lighting might make the fire blow out. Do the same with a wood burning insert, and make sure the flue is open while allowing the fire to rise. Leave the screen or doors on your insert open for a little while before completely shutting it.

Contact Us

New England Hearth & Home can help you out with all your fireplace and stove needs. Give us a call at 781-562-0771 or fill out our contact form. We look forward to hearing from you!