How To Care For Your Fireplace This Winter

WORDS:: Chyka Keebaugh

 PHOTOS:: Lisa Atkinson

There is nothing nicer than walking into a room with an open fire blazing, but keep in mind some simple considerations to ensure your fireplace is safe too.

I can't help but gravitate towards the heat and stare into the flames, so one thing I do as the weather turns is get my fireplace winter ready! As our fireplace is in our formal living room, we don’t use it as often as we should. It is a feature when we have guests over but throughout the year, I like to style up the hearth with candles and decorative wood.

When lighting your fire after a long break, there are a few things to look out for. Chimney walls and their surrounds collect a substance called creosote, which is the by-product of charred wood and other items you burn. Some things you should avoid burning are - wrapping paper, packaging, green wood and rubbish as they create more creosote. This substance can be dangerous so it is important to get it cleaned away regularly. It can also build up in the crack of bricks so it’s important to get the inside of your chimney swell as the outside of your chimney checked.

Caring for your fireplace::

  • Clear your mantle and surrounds of any decorations. Move furniture a little further away and give the fire some space.
  • Only burn old wood, six months to a year old logs.
  • Make sure there are no branches hanging outside near your chimney.
  • Make sure your chimney is covered with a wire mesh to keep out birds, rain and other animals.
  • To avoid excess smoke in the house, burn your wood on a grate close to the back of the fireplace.
  • Always out your fire out before you go to bed, just in case!
  • A mesh or glass fire cover will stop sparking or embers escaping. 

Who knew that not all firewood was not the same? Not me! I knew the basics; don’t burn green wood, use kindling to light a fire not liquids but I didn’t know that you could choose your wood depending on the amount of heat you want it to give out. It’s simple - softwood are light and they burn faster, cleaner and catch fire easier. Hardwood is heavier, burns twice as long and generates double the amount of heat. Stocking your woodpile with a combination of both will give you a choice, perfect for those nights it’s not too cold but all you want to do is snuggle by the glow of the fire.

Once everything is packed and ready to go, you need to get some great smells coming from your fire. Whether you like it sweet or earthy, this is a lovely alternative to burning candles around the fireplace.

Gorgeous scents for your fireplace::


This aromatic herb can be dried out and burnt as kindling emitting a glorious smell.  You can even place bundles around the fire, once warmed smell gorgeous.


Burning peel is a great way to get rid of odours, the oil in the peels give out a lovely and clean smell.


This creates a sweet smell and because it comes from a tree in the first place - it burns very well.


A favourite to burn for its pine smell. Just make sure they are dried old cones as they burn best.


Choose your favourite aroma and put a few drops of the wood then let it dry before burning. A subtle fragrant fire, how fab!