Wood wool firelighters, also referred to as wood wool fire starters, can be a great addition to the starting of a fire in any fireplace or stove.
We keep a bag of wood wool firelighters near our wood burning stove and they can be very useful when we’re struggling to get a fire going.
Other types of fire starters such as newspaper can burn out very quickly and the wood may not have had enough time to catch alight. Wood wool firelighters are extremely easy to light and can burn for an extended period of time. However, they can be relatively expensive to buy.
In this article we explain what wood wool firelighters are and how to use them.
What Are Wood Wool Firelighters?
Wood wool firelighters are a type of fire starter used for any form of fire such as in fireplaces and wood burning stoves, and are typically made from pieces of wood wool and wax.
Wood wool firelighters can be used to help start a fire.
It can be very hard to get pieces of wood, such as kindling (and especially logs), to light using a simple naked flame from a lighting source such as a match.
A fire starter provides a medium in which flames can be transferred to smaller bits of wood, such as kindling, and then to progressively larger sized logs as the fire continues.
Wood wool firelighters are very easy to light from a flame and the fire spreads across them effectively. They can also last for a reasonable amount of time, providing sufficient time for the bits of wood to catch fire.
Example of the bags of wood wool firelighters that we had at the time of writing this article are shown below.
The packaging explains that these wood wool firelighters are:
- Quick lighting
- 100% natural
- Responsibly sources from sustainable forests
- Ideal for lighting any fire
- A convenient size
There are many upsides to using wood wool firelighters such as making the lighting process of a fire more effective and efficient.
However, one of the main downsides is that they can be quite expensive.
For example, a bag of wood wool firelighters typically costs us around $5.50 (£4.50) if we’re not buying in bulk, and if you’re having regular fires they can be used up quite quickly.
We therefore only typically use them as a backup when we’re struggling to get a fire going using our usual method of newspaper and kindling.
For example, we can add some wood wool firelighters to a struggling fire and will help provide a much better start.
However, when we’re using kindling that is hardwood rather than softwood and isn’t quite as small as the kindling we typically buy, our go to firelighters are the wood wool ones as they burn for long enough for the hardwood kindling to catch.
How To Use Wood Wool Firelighters
Use wood wool firelighters in line with manufacturer guidelines, such as placing at the bed of the fire and covering with kindling and/or logs, or placing on top of firewood and adding a smaller amounts of firewood over the top. Light the wood wool firelighters directly using a fire starter, such as a match, and leave them to burn through.
Wood wool firelighters should always be used in line with the instructions as set out on the packaging. The instructions can vary been manufacturers.
For example, one of our bags of firelighters explains to:
‘Place 2 of the firelighters on the fire bed and cover with logs. Light the firelighters and wait until the kindling or logs begin to burn.’
Another bag from a different manufacturer explains to:
‘Lay 3 or 4 pieces of wood wool on your fuel/kindling.
Lightly cover with more fuel, wood etc. Ensure good air flow and do not smother wood wool.
Light the wood wool.
Add more fuel as necessary.’
When we use wood wool firelighters to start our fires, we place one or two at the bed of our wood stove as shown below, depending on how many we think we may need.
Wood wool firelighters will typically work whether you’ve left an ash bed at the base of the fire or not.
We cover the firelighters over with kindling in a criss-cross pattern to allow air to circulate.
Larger bits of wood or small logs can be placed on top of the kindling.
The wood wool firelighters can be lit directly using a match or lighter and should catch fire with ease.
The fire should get going quickly, with the flames spreading to all bits of wood.
With our wood stove we like to close the door but leave it slightly ajar at the start of the fire for the first couple of minutes to provide plenty of oxygen. The air vent on our stove is also always wide open at the start.
Wood wool firelighters are very effective and there should be no issues with a fire starting well.
Wood wool firelighters may not be as effective when the size of any kindling or logs is too large.
Smaller bits of wood should be used when starting a fire and progressively larger bits of wood should be added to the fire over time as an ember bed forms and the temperature increases. Larger pieces of wood with greater surface area can be much harder to burn.
Testing Wood Wool Firelighters
Wood wool firelighters can be very good fire starters and can help transfer the flames to kindling. In most situations there will be no issues starting a fire using wood wool firelighters and kindling.
However, we wanted to test how good wood wool firelighters can really be.
We tested our wood wool firelighters to see what would happen when:
- The firelighters are left to burn on their own
- Large logs are placed on top
- The firelighters are placed on top of wood
To test how long wood wool firelighters can typically burn for, we placed one firelighter at the base of our stove but didn’t place any firewood on top. The door to the stove was closed.[Image] burning at base of stove nothing on top
These wood wool firelighters burn for approximately 11 minutes each.
These are the typical burning times for the type of wood wool firelighters that we’re using and may differ for products from different manufacturers, but can give a good idea of the burn time you can expect.
The next test was to cover two wood wool firelighters with a relatively large hardwood log, that would typically need the help of smaller bits of wood such as kindling to help catch fire.
The wood wool firelighters couldn’t get this log to catch fire in the time that they were burning but simply charred the wood.
The final test was to see whether you could use wood wool firelighters to light larger sized hardwood kindling from above.
Placing any form of fire starter at the base of a built fire, with kindling and then smaller logs on top, can be the most traditional way of starting a fire.
However, the top-down method of starting a fire can offer an alternative and potentially more effective way of starting a fire.
We placed a wood wool firelighter on top of larger sized bits of hardwood kindling and they also struggled to get the firewood to catch fire.
In summary, wood wool firelighters should be used in line with instructions on the packaging for the best experience.
- Wood wool firelighters work best with helping to light small bits of wood (kindling), that is preferably softwood to aid in catching fire as easily as possible.
- More wood wool firelighters may be required than stated when using hardwood kindling.
- Wood wool firelighters are unlikely to be able to get larger bits of wood to catch fire on their own.
- Using more wood wool firelighters can help increase the likelihood of a fire starting well but at increased cost.