Charlie's Secrets for Having an Easy to Light and Lively Wood Fire.

Personally I don’t want my wood fires to command a lot of effort to light and to keep going. 

Wood preparation on the front end will be like money in the bank when you are ready to make a withdrawal.


  1. The most important factor is how you prepare the wood, not “from where do you get it?”.  This is because seasoned wood (% moisture content) is more important to a good fire than the whether it is hickory, oak, pine, etc.
  2. Have it cut to the right length for your appliance.  My fireplace is rather small, I like 14’’
  3. Split it to the right sizes
    1. Different stages of fire may need different diameters i.e. small to start a fire, larger diameter to extend the reload rate.
    2. Round log sections don’t light as easily.  You may want an ax handy to split some of the round logs in half
  4. Stack it off the ground
    1. You don’t want ground moisture to be wicked up into you wood pipe
    2. Use pallets, landscape timber, etc to create a space for air to get underneath your wood
  5. Cover it
    1. I recommend a permanent roof to protect the wood from rain and snow.
    2. Porch, shed, car port.  
    3. A tarp is okay but usually, fails to protect at just the time you want to use it
    4. I have a main wood pile well away from my house and restock a secondary container close to my fireplace.

Starting the Fire (Charlie’s technique.  We can get pretty snobby about this):

  1. Have you seasoned it enough?  A moisture meter really helps take the guess work out.
  2. I personally don’t like grates.  I like to burn wood right on the firebox floor.  There is plenty of air available to sustain a good fire.  Low moisture content makes fire starting easy.  
  3. My start up fire looks something like a log cabin-  wood going this way on one level and that way on the next level  
  4. Charlie uses pine kindling (fat wood from my brother in Georgia), pipe cones are good too
  5. Instead of paper Charlie uses gelled fuel
  6. Make sure the damper is open and touch the match. ENJOY!!!!

CAUTION: Always shovel ashes into a metal container.  Ashes can stay alive for two or three days.