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Mastering the Art of Fireplace Tongs: A Comprehensive Guide

Fireplace tongs are an essential tool for every fireplace owner. With the right pair of tongs, you can easily and safely tend to your fire by moving logs, stoking coals, and picking up fallen ash.

However, not all fireplace tongs are created equal. There is an art to selecting and using fireplace tongs to get the most out of your fireplace experience. This comprehensive guide will teach you everything you need to know about choosing, using, and maintaining fireplace tongs.

the spring of fireplace tongs

Choosing the Right Fireplace Tongs

When selecting a pair of fireplace tongs, there are a few key factors to consider:


Fireplace tongs come in a range of lengths, usually between 20 to 32 inches. The right length depends on the size and depth of your fireplace. Standard fireplaces do well with 24 to 30-inch tongs.

For larger or deeper fireplaces, longer tongs in the 30 to 32-inch range allow you to safely reach the back. Make sure to measure the depth and dimensions of your firebox before purchasing.

Consider your height as well – if you are shorter, you may be more comfortable with shorter tongs for easier handling.


Fireplace tongs are commonly made from cast iron, wrought iron, or steel. Cast iron is durable and heavy-duty but can be brittle if low quality.

High-quality cast iron has a smooth finish and heft that aids handling. Wrought iron is also extremely durable but lighter in weight, making it easy to maneuver. Steel is affordable but won’t last as long or feel as sturdy.

For high-quality strength and longevity, look for wrought iron or high-quality cast iron with finely finished joints.

Grip Style

There are a few common grip styles for fireplace tongs. Loop grips have a circular design, pivot grips have a scissor-like hinge, and spike grips have pointed clasps.

Loop and spike grips offer the best control and leverage for picking up logs and coals. The inward curve of loop grips provides a secure hold.

Spike grips are easy to wedge under logs. Pivot grips can work for light grasping but don’t allow you to pick up larger logs.

Make sure to test the grip for comfort, control, and strength before purchasing a pair.


A good pair of fireplace tongs should have some heft to them. Heavy tongs not only last longer but allow you to securely grip logs and rearrange heavy coals with control. Very light tongs made from thin steel may bend or break under the strain.

Solid iron or steel tongs with some weight behind them will stand the test of time. While heavy, high-quality tongs may cost a bit more, their durability is worth the investment.

Look for fireplace tongs that are solidly constructed and weigh at least a couple of pounds.


Some higher-end fireplace tongs come with added features like stands for conveniently resting the tongs against the fireplace. Stands to keep the hot tongs safely off the floor between uses.

Insulated handles constructed of wood or high-temp plastics help protect your hands from getting burned.

If you use tongs frequently, these types of extras can be worthwhile. Vintage Victorian-style tongs often have decorative embellishments if you want a more stylish look.


Stick to well-known, reputable fireplace accessory brands when buying tongs. Names like BonFire, Uniflame, Vestal, Liberty Foundry, and Woodstock Soapstone are leaders in fireplace gear. You’ll pay more for quality brands but it’s worth it for sturdy construction that endures.

fire tool

Proper Fireplace Tongs Technique

Once you’ve selected the right pair of fireplace tongs for your needs, it’s time to learn how to use them properly. Here are some key techniques for handling tongs like an expert:


Rest the tongs on their stand if they have one, or on a sturdy surface near the fireside when not actively being used.

Never lay them directly on the floor where they can get kicked or tripped over. Hang them on a hook or holder attached to the wall or side of the mantel when not needed.

Opening and Gripping

Use your less dominant hand to hold the barrel of the tongs for control. Then use your dominant hand to operate the grip lever, staying safely behind the pivot.

Open the tongs wide, place them around the wood firmly, and squeeze the grip closed. Center heavy logs in the middle of the tongs for balance.

Lifting and Moving

Lift gently and carefully to get a feel for the weight at first. Use your legs and knees for leverage when lifting larger logs.

Always have a firm grip before moving or stoking. Shift and turn the tongs rather than twisting your wrist to avoid strain. Keep elbows tucked in and wrists straight.

Setting Down

When setting logs or coals down, slowly loosen the grip to lower gently. Let go only when resting securely to avoid falling ash or rolling logs. Angle the tongs to help guide placement.


Approach the fire at an angle rather than straight on for best leverage and safer placement into the flames. Come from the side or corner rather than reaching over the logs.

Assessing Weight

Never lift more than you can handle safely and comfortably. It’s better to make multiple trips than to strain. If a log is too heavy, break it into smaller pieces before lifting it.

Avoid Overreaching

Make sure the logs you want to move or stoke are within comfortable reach. Move the tongs around the fireplace rather than straining your back and shoulders.

Resting Position

When not in active use, the tongs’ handles can rest on the floor, but avoid laying the entire tongs down. The grip end should stay elevated off the floor.

Grip Adjustment

Use the grip lever to adjust how tightly the tongs are holding the log. Loosen slightly if struggling to lift a heavy piece.

Protective Gear

Wearing insulated gloves and using the tongs’ grip sleeve can protect your hands from getting burned during handling.

Let Logs Burn Down

Avoid trying to move logs at the height of combustion – allow them to burn down for easier, safer handling.

Using Two Hands

For larger tongs and logs, use two hands on the barrel for added control and even weight distribution.

Fire Poking

In addition to moving logs, quality tongs can be used to poke and spread coals and embers around.

As a Poker Rest

The tapered barrel design lets tongs be used as a convenient rest for a separate fireplace poker tool.

using the tongs

Maintaining Fireplace Tongs

With regular use over an open fire, fireplace tongs will require occasional maintenance to stay in top condition. Here are some tips:


Hang tongs on a hook or stand when not in use. This protects the gripping end from damage. Never store directly on the floor.

Checking for Damage

Inspect for cracks, loosening joints or other defects periodically. Tighten any loose hinges or rivets immediately to avoid further damage.

Rust Removal

Use steel wool or fine sandpaper to gently rub off any light rust on the barrel or rivets. Avoid abrasives on the grip and finish. Wipe down with oil after scrubbing.

Oil Joints

Apply a light coating of machine oil to the joints every one to two years. This prevents rust and keeps hinges moving smoothly. Avoid over-oiling.


Wipe the ash off after each use with a soft cloth. For deep cleaning, use warm water and a stiff brush to remove built-up residue. Dry thoroughly after cleaning.

Replacing Grips

If the gripping pads become excessively worn or damaged, you can replace them with new adhesive pads. Remove the old grip with pliers and bend the replacement grips onto the ends.

Tightening Screws

Periodically check screws and tighten any that have loosened over time due to heat exposure.

Touch Up Paint

For decorative vintage tongs, use heat-resistant paint to freshen up any embellishment accents.

using the fireplace tongs

Following these guidelines, quality fireplace tongs should last for many years by the fireside. With the proper use and care, you’ll be able to safely and easily manage blazing hearth fires. Mastering the art of fireplace tongs takes some knowledge and practice, but is ultimately simple and extremely rewarding.

In summary, choosing the ideal length, material, grip, and weight makes for a good pair of fireplace tongs. Use proper techniques like avoiding overreach, gentle gripping, and diagonal placement.

Perform occasional maintenance like rust removal, oiling, and cleaning to ensure longevity. With the help of this comprehensive guide, you’ll be excelling at fireplace tongs handling in no time!

Invest in a quality set of tongs, learn proper handling, and with some simple upkeep you can enjoy your fireplace for years to come.



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