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How To: Light a Fire - -

How To: Light a Fire

By Sian Pickles December 18, 2014

We’re about to turn everything you knew about lighting a fire on its head. Get ready.

Log pile in a forest

So the conventional method of lighting a fire – the way we’re all taught to do it – is fairly simple. Scrunched-up paper and kindling. Light the paper, add logs. This method is generally pretty foolproof and if done correctly will result in a fire that takes and burns well.

But here at Anevay we like to turn things on their head, take everything we knew before and chuck it out the window, and go swimming in the sea in December. So we’re going to tell you about a different way of lighting a fire: TURN IT UPSIDE DOWN.

The top-down fire is a time-tested method of firelighting that will result in almost no smoke, fewer shifting embers, and a much better burn. It takes a minimal amount of getting used to, but once you’ve got it down you will build perfect, awesome fires every time. One of the disadvantages of the conventional method of firelighting is that adding heavy logs on top of an unstable pile of paper and kindling will usually result in some sort of collapse, and this isn’t great for firelighting. You want a sturdy, secure firestack that will remain stable long enough for all the parts to catch fire, especially the bigger logs which often take a little while (and a lot of newspaper) to really get going.

That’s where the top-down fire comes in. Here’s how you do it

1. Lay your logs (two or three largish logs, depending on the size of your firebox or fire pit) down in the bottom of the firebox lengthways. As always, dry seasoned timber works best.

2. Lay some pieces of timber split to around half the size of the first logs cross-ways across the first layer.

3. Follow with another layer of even smaller pieces of kindling, again going the other way, so you’re creating a sort of cross-hatch with each layer (see diagram below).

4. Continue adding layers, making the pieces of wood smaller each time, until you’re cross-hatching thin, pencil-width pieces of kindling. It’s important to make sure you get a good gradient on your fire to allow it to catch.

5. For this next step we’ve taken a tip from the wonderful website woodheat.org, who suggest another revolutionary change to the firelighting game: tie your newspaper in knots. While crumpling newspaper sheets into a ball for tinder seems the obvious thing to do, rolling a sheet of newspaper into a loose tube corner-to-corner and tying this into a quick knot will prevent your ball from uncrumpling and rolling around as it catches. Try it – you’ll be amazed.

6. Light your paper and if you’re using a woodburner shut the door, leaving the air vents open. Watch in amazement as the fire catches layer by layer, finishing with the big logs. No smoke! No collapsing firestack!

Without the heavy logs to weigh down the crumpled paper or dry grasses you’re using as tinder, the initial fire that you lay will be a little taller than a conventional fire. In small fireboxes this can be tricky, but with a little sleight of hand you can hold down the kindling and stuff your paper into the space between the top of the firebox and the kindling, and the tight squeeze will hold everything in place.

Have you tried this before? If not, give it a go and let us know what you think – we reckon it’s a bit of a game changer.

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