How to: Safely Light a Fire

Learn how to safely start a fire in your home.

When temperatures drop, there’s nothing cozier than sitting before a roaring fire.  However, lighting a fire inside your home does have some obvious risks.  To avoid any fire damage, it’s important that you know how to safely start a fire in your home.  Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll have a toasty fire to enjoy in no time.


  • Matches- Other fire starters, such as a lighter, will work as well.
  • Tinder- This is what will initially starts your fire. For an indoor fire, crumbled newspaper will work just fine.
  • Kindling- This is wood that is slightly larger and more substantial than tinder. Usually, these wood pieces are about 1 inch in diameter and will keep your fire going.  Just make sure your tinder is completely dry or it will not burn.
  • Logs- These are pieces of wood that are much larger that kindling, usually several inches in diameter. Logs will burn the longest so long as they are adequately dry.
  • Baking soda- This will be necessary if you want to put your fire out before it completely burns out.
  • Fire extinguisher- Though you probably won’t need to use it, you should keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.


  1. Before you do anything, make sure that your chimney is safe to use. You should have your chimney cleaned and maintained annually.  So, if you’re due for a check-up, do not use your fireplace until you have been cleared to do so.  Additionally, make sure your fireplace has a good grate (screen that prevents sparks from flying out) to protect your home.
  2. Before you start your fire, make sure to open your chimney’s flue. Opening up your flue will allow smoke to escape up and out of your chimney rather than accumulating inside your home.  Once you open it, you should be able to feel cold air filtering in from outside.
  3. Place your tinder (crumpled newspaper) in the back of the fireplace. This will create an easy-to-light surface and will be the starting point for your fire.
  4. Stack kindling on top of your tinder, making sure to leave enough room for oxygen to circulate and feed your fire.
  5. Use the matches or another fire starter to light the tinder. You should light the tinder in a couple of different places to get things burning more quickly.  The kindling should light up pretty easily and you can add more kindling as you go to create a nice base for your fire.
  6. Once you have this small fire going, carefully start adding in your larger logs. You can lay these across the grate lengthwise and stack more on top in a diagonal pattern.  Just be sure to leave enough space between the logs to allow the oxygen to circulate.
  7. After that, you are free to sit back and enjoy your fire! Just be sure to put up your screen to prevent sparks from flying out of your fireplace.


Remember, you should never leave a fire unattended.  If you would like to extinguish a fire before its completely burned out, then spread the remaining wood and embers into a flat pile.  Then, scoop the ashes from the bottom of the fireplace onto the pile until the flame is completely out.  Finally, sprinkle some baking soda over all the wood and embers to ensure that the flame is completely extinguished.

Use this guide to learn how to safely start fires in your home all winter long.  While practicing indoor fire safety will help protect your home, having the right home insurance will also keep your home and loved ones safe.  To find the right insurance, contact Mike Leonard Insurance Agency in North Texas.  Our dedicated team is ready to find you the right coverage from one of our many carriers including: Kemper, MetLife, Travelers, The Hartford, Safeco Insurance, Progressive, and American Strategic Insurance.  Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.