How To Light Wood Fireplace Even On the Coldest Days

Wood-burning fireplace with burning bright with wood pile on both sides of stone hearth.

Lighting a wood fireplace during the coldest days can be a daunting task, even for those experienced with fireplaces.

In this guide, we’ll explore effective methods for overcoming common challenges and ensuring a warm, cozy environment in your home.

Understanding the Challenge

The key to mastering how to light a wood fireplace lies in understanding the underlying issues.

Sometimes, even the finest wood, the most efficient fireplace, and optimal venting configurations struggle against an unseen force: the pressure difference between the air outside your home and the inside of your chimney and firebox.

Here are three reliable tricks to light even the most stubborn fireplaces:

  1. Preheat the Chimney
  2. Crack a Nearby Door or Window
  3. Use Firebrick and Paper for Quick Heating

Detailed Methods

1. Preheating the Chimney

Preheating your chimney is essential. One simple method involves using a handheld propane torch.

Light the torch and hold it inside the fireplace, close to the flue, to preheat the chamber.

This action utilizes the principle that “heat rises,” thereby altering the airflow direction.

2. Crack a Nearby Door or Window

Adjusting the pressure inside your home is another crucial step.

By slightly opening a window or door, you can balance the internal and external pressures.

This might briefly cool your space, but it significantly aids in starting the fire, ultimately warming your home faster.

3. Using Firebrick and Newspaper


  • Start by breaking a store-bought firebrick into quarters, then break one of the quarters into even smaller pieces. These can be broken by hand or cut using work snips or shop scissors. Try to make them the size of sugar cubes or similar.
  • Prepare your newspaper by scrunching sheets into balls. They should be loose enough for air circulation but compact enough to fit many in the fireplace. Aim for the size of a softball.


  1. Place a flat sheet of paper (no bigger than 8″x8″) on the fireplace’s base to cover any existing ashes.
  2. Arrange two large firebrick chunks in a “V” shape on top of the paper. The open part of the V should be facing you. Place the smaller pieces you made earlier in between the legs of the V.
  3. Build a pyramid by placing the third large piece of firebrick on top of the pile.
  4. Surround this setup with the newspaper balls, ensuring they touch each other but not obstructing the lighting of the smallest firebrick pieces.


Light the smallest pieces of firebrick using a match or BBQ lighter. Gradually add more paper to the front of your stack.

The objective is to quickly light as much paper as you can to heat the air in the chimney, changing its direction.

As the fire lights up and starts to pick up, start adding small pieces of wood and kindling.

Once you can clearly see the smoke going up the chimney, you have effectively “established a draft,” which means the airflow is now flowing properly.

You can start adding more wood on top of the pile like usual.

If you are unsure how to stack them, learn How to Arrange Fireplace Logs here.


With these techniques, lighting a wood fireplace even on the coldest days becomes much simpler.

Each method is designed to address common issues related to air pressure and temperature, ensuring your fireplace lights efficiently and stays lit.

Related Article:

What to Do If You Get a Cold Draft From Your Fireplace



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