We love our kiva fireplaces here in Santa Fe! There is nothing better to make your home feel cozy in the wintertime! But if you are new to New Mexico, you may not know the best way to stack wood in a kiva to get a nice roaring fire. So, here’s how you do it:
Step 1: Make sure the chimney flue draft is open, so you can get some airflow up the chimney (and not out into the room).
Step 2: Gather your tinder/kindling materials and make a loose pile in the center of the fireplace. I like using chunks of downed pine or spruce trees that is full of sap – carve shavings off of it and it lights right away, and it burns longer than a match or a bit of paper.
Step 3: Stack your firewood vertically around the kindling in a teepee shape. Don’t use wet logs, and don’t use big thick chunks of wood – you can put those on the fire later on, once it’s going strong. Use smaller sticks, ones that will catch from the kindling. Don’t cram too much in! (Because you want air flowing under and around the sticks, so they’ll ignite and stay lit.)
Step 4: Light the kindling, and (if needed) gently blow on the fire. You don’t have to huff and puff like the big bad wolf! Inhale, purse your lips, and exhale in a long slow breath.
Step 5: Enjoy your kiva fireplace! Tend it by adding more wood as the existing sticks collapse. If the fire is going too intensely, you can dampen (but not completely close) the chimney flue.