My fireplace is quite deep, and I always struggle to light the back of it with a normal length match - I don't like getting sooty hands, and I worry about burning myself.
The longer matches are quite expensive - I'd rather not have to use them. Is there anything I can do to make this easier?

Even quite a convoluted method may work better - for example, could focusing the heat from a candle with a magnifying glass light the back?

3 Answers 3


Spaghetti is a cheap food, and is flammable before it is cooked.

Spaghetti used as a spill


It can be used to reach the back of the fire quite well.


I'm assuming you're building your fires in the more "traditional" way, something like this:

Paper firelighters amongst wood

This method has a few drawbacks... I'm guessing that you're looking to light your fire from the front and back in the hopes of getting it to burn evenly to prevent it from collapsing in on itself and smothering right?

Rather than changing the way you light the fire, consider changing the way you build it to begin with. There are a couple of fire building methods that should light easily without requiring you to light it from the back.

  1. Try the Top Down Fire:

Fire laid with paper lighters above the wood

In this arrangement you should be able to light the paper at the top-front and the flame should quickly spread all the way back and then slowly burn downward. The whole stack should light in about ten minutes.

  1. Try the Box Fire or Log Cabin Fire:

Fire laid with paper lighters under a frame of wood

In this arrangement you light the paper at the bottom-front and the flame should spread down the middle to the back pretty quickly.

Both of these methods should give you a nice fire without too much babysitting. Adding more wood to these fires will also be easier because you're working with a flat top, so there's no need to carefully place and balance new logs.


Assuming you're lighting something like paper or another easily burned material under the wood, you can try lighting rolled up newspaper or some similar material. Use one or two pages at a time, rolling them diagonally so that it reaches further than rolling it horizontally or vertically would. Keep the roll relatively tight so that there's not a big hole and make sure to light the bottom of the roll so that the top catches fire as well. Smaller pieces of paper work as well, but the longer the roll the more time you'll have to light the material for the fire.

As for the convoluted method you mentioned, magnifying glasses focus light not heat, so that wouldn't work :)

  • How do magnifying glasses start fires etc then...? :/
    – Tim
    Dec 14, 2014 at 15:23
  • 3
    @Tim Magnifying glasses focus the photons found in light to produce heat. There are some good online resources that can explain it better than I, like this one Dec 14, 2014 at 15:26

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