How to light a fire

Different manufacturers have varying lighting techniques to aid ease of use and reduce smoke emissions. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions when using your stove. In the absence of manufacturer instructions, contact an installer or chimney sweep who will be able to offer appropriate advice.

There are two popular methods of lighting a fire:

For both methods you will need a firelighter, kindling and your firewood. Use the appropriate safety gloves and equipment.

Traditional Method of Lighting a Fire

With the use of a firelighter and a small amount of kindling, a small amount of heat will be produced to warm the flue. Firelighters can be an easier method as they burn at a steady rate, unlike newspaper which can differ dependent on its state when burned.

When using paper that is too lax, the paper will burn too fast and may not ignite the kindling; this will mean restarting the lighting process. Paper that is too compact will not combust properly and smoulder causing excessive smoke: where the flue is not up to temperature this may emit from the apertures of the appliance.

Traditional Lighting Steps

  1. Use two tabloid-size pieces of newspaper crumpled into a loose ball about the size of a cricket ball or firelighters and place them in the combustion chamber.
  2. Place small pieces of dried kindling into a triangular shape over the newspaper, allowing for air gaps. On larger appliances place two smallish logs on either side of the kindling to allow for larger logs to be placed over the well alight kindling.
  3. Ensure that the air controls are set to the manufacturer’s guidelines to make lighting as easy as possible.




Upside Down or Top-Down Method of Lighting a Fire

The Traditional Method of lighting a fire has been used since the dawn of wood burners but due to technologies advancing the little black box has evolved. With appliances now being more efficient not as much heat is lost up the chimney and more radiated into the room.

The upside down method aids in the flue getting up to temperature more quickly and removes the need to open the appliance door to add fuel to the kindling which means there is less of a chance of the combustion chamber cooling.

Once the well ignited kindling has burnt through, the flue shall be warm and the logs which the kindling has sat upon should now be charred and ignite cleanly.

Upside Down Lighting Steps

  1. Place two small logs across the fire bed.
  2. Place 5 pieces of kindling across the two logs, then 4 pieces laid at a 90-degree angle across the bottom layer and place two firelighters in between the gaps.
  3. Add another five pieces of kindling laid in the same direction as the bottom layer.
  4. Set the controls of the appliance to the lighting position.
  5. Light the firelighters and close the door of the appliance. The fire will slowly increase, warming the flue gradually without producing copious amounts of smoke and pollutants to the atmosphere.
  6. Set the air controls to the manufacturer’s settings.
  7. Leave the kindling well alone until the top of the appliance is warm and then close the primary air control, the kindling will fall between the logs. Once these are burning well the burn rate of the appliance can be adjusted and more logs applied to the fire as required.

Choosing your firewood

Woodsure is the UK’s only woodfuel quality assurance scheme. Trust Woodsure certified suppliers for reliable, high-quality wood fuels.

The Woodsure website has a postcode search to help find your local firewood supplier. When purchasing firewood for immediate use always look for the Ready to Burn certification mark. This demonstrates that the moisture content of the firewood is no more than 20% and is ready to burn.

Further Information

The HETAS website has a range of advice leaflets and frequently asked questions for stove users. Follow the links below for more information or get in touch with the team on 01684 278170.


HETAS, Severn House, Unit 5 Newtown Trading Estate, Green Lane, Tewkesbury, GL20 8HD