There's nothing quite like the relaxing feeling of putting your feet up next to a warm, crackling fire, especially during the cold winter months.

But if you've ever had to deal with firewood, you know how important your set-up is for an easy and safe evening next to the flames.

There are several basic steps to follow when stacking your firewood to make sure the logs last a long time and everything stays secure.

1. Keep firewood off the ground

If you're able to lay a base using more weather-resistant material, it can help prolong the life of the firewood you're stacking, especially the larger pieces that will sit at the bottom the longest. This will help keep the wood dry and burnable for a much longer time. In general, finding a dry and sunny spot for your stack will serve you well.

2. Expose the cut sides to the air and sun

A proper stack of firewood provides proper ventilation to help prevent mold and fungus. By making sure the cut sides are facing the sun and getting plenty of air, the life of your stack will be much longer.

3. Use bookends to stabilize stacked wood

When starting your stack, set aside a pile of similarly-sized logs to place in layers to make bookends. They serve as support towers to the overall structure of the pile, especially as pieces shift over time. Decide the length and height that you want your stack to be. On both sides of the stack area, build the towers by using two or three pieces of firewood per layer. In each layer, the pieces of wood should be parallel. As you build a new layer on top, make sure the new pieces run perpendicular to those in the layer beneath it. It should almost look like you have a stack of Lincoln Logs on each side.

4. Keep stacked wood away from your house to avoid termite infestation

This is an easy-to-do but also easy-to-forget tip until you learn the hard way. When deciding where to make your stack of firewood, make sure the location is far enough away from your house to make sure any termites or critters that like wood don't just wander into your house. This can save you a lot of time and money, and also prevent you from resenting firewood.

5. Stack wood parallel and as close to each other as possible

You've got a location, a base and bookends, so now it is time to stack! It's pretty simple but there are some key things to remember. First, make sure to put larger pieces on the bottom and build up from there. This will help with stability. Next, make sure the wood is stacked parallel and close to each other in each layer. And as you make each layer, the firewood should begin to naturally conform to the layer above it. Keep the pieces in each layer close, but avoid vertical lines of wood stacked directly on each other. This will help with ventilation and make the stack more stable.

6. Place bent and knobby pieces on top to keep the stack stable

In addition to building your pile up using the biggest pieces on the bottom, make sure you keep bent, oddly shaped and knobby logs at the top of the pile. This will help keep the integrity of your overall stack and help you burn through those less-convenient pieces first.

So just remember these basic stacking steps and you won't have to worry the next time you feel like grabbing some firewood to make delicious s'mores.

How to stack firewood
When you stack your firewood properly, you make it easier to get to — and safe to use all winter long.