Im pretty sure everyone needs to mention safety measures when discussing fires inside a house, so I will say- be careful! Bad things happen if you aren’t safe and sure of what you are doing. Unsure? Find out how to be safe before starting a fire inside your house, and even safer when cleaning out the fireplace of ashes. With that out of the way, here is my technique of starting a roaring fire in under five minutes. This technique is time tested, foolproof, and easy... NO KINDLING NEEDED, no duraflame logs, no huffing and puffing!
I cleaned out my stove tonight to make picture taking easy- ashes were cold yet went into a steel container anyway, placed upon the stone hearth. Being safe!
I ALWAYS build a house around the initial source of heat. Flat floor goes in first, thin flat pieces with NO BARK! Shredded if possible.
After the floor, I build walls with all bark facing outwards (bark does not burn easily- a tree’s defense against forest fires). The walls are larger pieces tilted inwards at the top to squeeze the flames together as they ascend. Again- shredded is desirable.
Next comes the ceiling of my house. It pretty much covers the top opening between the walls. Not finished yet!!!
Biggest mistake is to put an insufficient amount of wood on the top. Beginner’s mistake. You need a bunch of wood on the top to intercept the flames as they snake their way upwards through the small spaces between the pieces of wood. Smallish pieces allow for more snaking to occur. More snaking=faster fire.
Pizza cardboard works great. Milk cartons, gas station coffee cups (paraffin lining) is my favorite though because the wax is easy to burn. Whatever. If you are using cardboard, put a “cardboard floor” down first.
Once the floor is placed inside our house, rip off one more piece of cardboard and bend it to cup it. Gather up the COLD chunks of unburned black charcoally-like
pieces from the previous fire.
I don’t know what this stuff is called, but it’s the SOLUTION to starting fires easily (see story at bottom).
Place the black chunky thingys on the cupped second piece of cardboard and slide it into our house on top of the first piece of cardboard. The reason for two pieces of cardboard is obvious. Two pieces allows for air to get in and under the black stuff. The more air, the easier fire starting. The faster the black stuff gets red, the faster your fire is burning.
This is what my fires look like before I start them.
The start of our fire tonight!!! The fun part.
7:02.30pm, thirty seconds later
One minute later...
Chunky things turning orange. Cardboard burning well. Flames a-snaking through crevices. Moisture steaming it’s way to the ends of the wood. A little moisture in the wood creates a LOT MORE HEAT when burning than totally dried out wood. This wood was spilt in July and august. Do not buy wood that has been cut for a year or more. It gets pulpy, buggy, fungusy, and Yicchy, counter to EVERYTHING you’ve ever read about well-seasoned wood. I digress.
Three minutes later, my fire is ROARING! I’ll try to put up a video later.
I’ll take this opportunity to be blunt about burning wood in your house.
People die and houses burn down when people who don’t know what they are doing build fires in their house. There are a LOT of ways to make mistakes.
One guy in Greenwich a few years ago cleaned out the ashes and put them not outside, but in a breezeway in some container that either burned through with the heat from the still-orange coals or whatever... but the huge house burned to the ground and killed the step kids and the in-laws. It’s got to be a horrible unending misery for the survivors of a deadly house fire.
My house burned down on July 3rd, 1972 when it got struck by lightning. Nobody died, but we lost everything. We got lucky because it was in the daytime.
This tragic example is just one of many that happens all the time in our country. When I think of this story, I am mad and sad at the same time. To have a fire in a fireplace then clean it out that night is extremely poor judgement. Idiotic, actually. To put the ashes into a non- steel container (not sure about this) is another mistake- but even the heat can come right through a steel container... and to put whatever container in a breezeway and not outside is the third strike that four or five people paid for with their lives.
Im hoping that there might be at least one person who reads this and looks into fire safety before starting a fire. If so, it was worth the time writing this.
Moral of the story- learn as much as you can about EVERYTHING having to do with fireplaces. Your family’s long lives will be a reward for your diligence.