Throughout December, Stylist is inviting you to revel in the simple joy of cosiness. From finding the perfect scarf (and effectively swathing yourself in it), to planning a weekend getaway at a rustic country pub, our content over the next month will endeavor to give you that warm, snuggly feeling inside. Here, learn how to create the perfect cosy fire. Welcome, dear friends, to the Institute of Cosiness.
Daniel Hume, wilderness expert and author of The Art Of Fire, shares his five steps to creating the perfect cosy flames.
1 . Use dead, dry wood
“Without dry wood, you’ll be battling eye-stinging smoke. If you’re collecting your own wood, look for branches that are dead – they’ll either have already snapped off in storms and be lying on the forest floor or hanging off the trees.”
2 . Use ash, oak or beech wood for fuel
“Ash, oak and beech are the three kings of firewood. Flames from oak and beech grow slowly, as the wood is dense. Ash wood [the most dense of all] is the pinnacle of European firewood.”
3. Always make a platform
“Lay down 12 pieces of dry wood, each about the thickness of your thumb, where you intend your fire to be. This allows a good flow of essential oxygen to get underneath, so that you get a strong flame early on.”
4 . Build your fire up in stages
“Start your fire by igniting tinder – at home, I use eight screwed-up newspaper pages – with thinly split kindling placed on top. Then, lay 15 small logs of split pine wood on top of the lit newspaper in a criss-cross fashion and the fire will grow.”
5 . Toast, roast and bake
“Handled skilfully, an open fire is an extremely good means of cooking. For a Christmassy treat, cut an ‘X’ on the skin of sweet chestnuts and roast them in a pan balanced on the criss-cross of logs. Peel them after 10 minutes of cooling, dip them in butter and sprinkle with cinnamon.”
The Art of Fire by Daniel Hume is out now in hardback (Century, £20)