How to Build a Fire in Your Living Room
Previously on the Gentleman’s Guide we explained how to build a fire in the great outdoors. With the mercury so low, it’s now time to turn our sights inside. Indoor fire-crafting requires some skills and techniques from the outdoor practices, but it also comes with its own intricacies. This article will teach you the ins, outs, ups, downs, and otherworldy motions in dimensions unfathomable of building a roaring fire in your home’s fireplace to match the love for the holidays burning in your chest. You know the feeling, the one you get after eating your weight worth of the Swedish meatballs that John always brings to parties.
Have an Indoor Fireplace
Do NOT proceed to build a fire if you do not have an indoor fireplace. If you have one, read on.
Clean Your Fireplace and Chimney
When was the last time you cleaned your fireplace? I thought so… Soot and creosote (sticky tar made by fires that is great at making even more fires) can build up in your chimney over time and cause chimney fires. Now a chimney doesn’t sound like the worst place to have a fire, but trust me, they can and WILL spread to the rest of your house and ruin your Christmas. Without a roof, Santa will be forced to land in your bedroom, and it takes forever to get reindeer stink out of the carpet. Trust us.
If you have not cleaned your fireplace and chimney recently, you are running out of time. Not only are you missing out on opportunities to have toasty fires each evening that you have not cleaned them, but you are wasting the last few days of the year that you’d be willing to expose your fingers to the elements long enough to brush and shovel any gunk outta there.
Chimney cleaning logs may help, but there are only three safe ways to clean out your chimney that ensure peace of mind while enjoying your cozy abode. You can 1) meet someone, hit it off, date, get married, have a kid, cover said kid in bristle pads, tie a rope around their waist and lower them down and hoist them up the chimney repeatedly; 2) pay for a $50 chimney cleaning kit or; 3) hire a professional.
Or ignore the problem like you usually do.
Stack Your Wood
I trust that you have stockpiled a hefty pile of wood for the winter season by now. If you have not, best chop to it! You see that? You see what I did there? Word play. It is wise to keep a stack of wood close to your door or, better yet, inside your garage. The whole point of the fire is to keep your home warm cozy. You can’t keep warm if you are taking a bunch of trips out of the house, opening and closing the door, and tracking in snow. When you do need to brave the elements, do so efficiently with a box or canvas carrier.
Next, log cabin it up! Teepees require more tending and have weaker structural integrity. Not only will you have to spend more time to keep a teepee burning, you will also run a greater risk of a collapse that sends embers out onto your carpet, even with a screen.
Here’s a basic run-down of the pros and cons of each of these stacking methods from cottagelife.com:
Open and Preheat Your Flue
Unless you want your living room to looking like a pre-2010 northern-Wisconsin dive bar, you’re going to want to give your fire’s smoke somewhere to go. Turn the twisty dial above the fireplace and woola, it’s got an escape! But an open flue does not equal an effective flue. For reasons only beknownst to the scienciest of scientists, cold air weighs down on smoke, creating a plug in your chimney that prevents it from drawing smoke up and out of your house, giving it that look that makes weary travellers show up to your door for a bowl of stew and a bed.
What you need to do is siphon the heat up the chimney by rolling up a big sheet of newspaper or a handful of discarded pages from the first draft of your screenplay for Jingle All the Way 2 into a (snow)cone shape, lighting that puppy up (on the snowy side), and holding it up the chimney until it burns down dangerously close to your hand. And then for a few more seconds…. OUCH! Now drop it into the fireplace as you withdraw your hand and suck on your fingers.
Light Your Fire
Your logs are stacked, your flue is good to go, now all you need to do is get this sucker roarin’! Grab a lighter (extended lighter recommended), flick it on, turn on your gas sloooowly until it catches, and then crank that baby up to get that wood cracklin’! Time to get cozy. But not TOO cozy. You’ll have to get up to turn off the gas in a few minutes. When it looks like the flames coming off the wood are sufficient to survive without the gas supplement, turn it off and get back under those blankets.
If you do not have a gas fireplace because your home is too old or because you think you are too good for natural gas mined by hard-working Americans, you’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way. Here is where our guide to building a campfire DOES come in handy. Once your fire is burning sufficiently on its own, kick back and enjoy your warm mug of peppermint schnapps and endless Christmas movies.
PSA (Public Santa Announcement): Do NOT build a fire on Christmas Eve. We don’t need an even more morbid remake of The Santa Clause trilogy.