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Monday, December 15, 2008

tips on how to start a really great fire in your fire place

Anyone have any?! 'Cause, let's just say, if I was a Girl Scout, I would have failed miserably at getting my fire badge!

When we moved into this house 9+ years ago, my kids were young. We set up a play table and chairs right in front of the fire place and made the choice not to use it until they were older to avoid any possible accidents. This past summer, I told the kids that this was the year.

I was going to do this right. I called a chimney company to have them inspect my chimney. One part has to be replaced but doesn't effect having fires so I went ahead, got the wood stand, the tools and bought some firewood. I still had those long fire place matches from the last house we lived in back in Atlanta.

I bought the wood from our supermarket. It was convenient, the wood appeared to be fine and I didn't expect there to be a problem. We didn't need a lot because I only intended on having fires here on weekends I have the kids.

This past weekend I had the kids. They were excited Saturday night because we were going to have a fire. My first mistake was using newspaper as kindling. Bad idea. With the flue open, the room still started filling with smoke! Luckily, the wood hadn't yet ignited, so I put out the fire and aired out the room.

A little while later, we tried again without the newspaper. Match after match, and nothing happened. Nothing. It seemed this wood was flame retardant! I used the entire box of matches and still the wood wouldn't catch fire! I stuck matches in every crevice possible and we thought we had fire a few times but it turned out it was just the match sticks burning! I noticed some parts of the wood were charred but never actually caught fire!

My kids told me about the Duraflame pine cones that their dad uses. I had seen those while shopping in Target the other day but thought, "How hard could starting a fire possibly be that I need these pine cones?!". Now it seems that I do, in fact, need those pine cones, or some other fire starting product, if I ever want to see any actual wood-burning fire in my fire place!

Any suggestions? Does anyone out there take pity on a poor, pathetic fire starter-challenged woman?!

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Anonymous sista #2 said...

I would love to help you but I too am fire challenged.

I feel your pain.


December 15, 2008 at 8:10 AM  
Anonymous Philly said...

Duraflame is the way to go !!!


December 15, 2008 at 10:05 AM  
Anonymous Giggle Pixie said...

I have an electric fireplace. One flip of the switch and you're good to go.


December 15, 2008 at 7:41 PM  
Blogger Tug said...

In the firewood/match/duraflame department, there should be some things called Strike-A-Fire - they work WONDERS. Don't freak over smoke coming in the house - open the nearest window/door for a minute, that gives the chimney the kick in the ass it needs to suction the smoke up - just watch it, doesn't have to be open long.

Let me know how it works or if you have any questions...I have fires almost every night here in Hell. 22 below zero this morning...

December 15, 2008 at 7:49 PM  
Blogger Leave It To Cleavage said...

I grow up in EBF NH. And we used the wood stove to heat the whole house. We twisted up pieces of newspaper and laid those as the bases, then we used little pieces of kindling scattered among all of the logs, on top of the logs for burning, then we lit the newspaper and made sure to light the kindling too and voila! A roaring fire!

December 15, 2008 at 7:54 PM  
Blogger derfina said...

This is a project in itself, but what else do you have to do? *laughs hysterically, then bitch slaps self* Get a candle and some pencil shavings and an egg carton. Put the pencil shavings in the egg holders and then light the candle and let the melted wax fill up the cups, mixing in the shavings. Let them cool, then cut to separate cups. Place under logs in strategic places and light from beneath.

Plain old pinecones work really well as tinder, too.

December 15, 2008 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger WavyDavy said...

Get a fire starting log - Duraflame or one of those fire starter brick things and put it on the bottom. Build a teepee-type structure of kindling over it. Stack a couple larger logs over it, but make sure they are piled in tightly. You want the fire to be able to breathe. Loosely roll a page or two of newspaper into a cone and light one end. When it is burning hold it in the fireplace near the flue. You need to warm the flue and create a draft that goes up the chimney before you light the fire. If you don't, you'll wind up with a smokey house every time. After you warm the flue, then light your starter log. As long as you keep it well ventilated you should be able to have a good fire with that store-bought wood. Usually that stuff is kiln dried and burns pretty well.If it doesn't work, burn children's toys. They usually go up like Roman candles. Good luck.

December 16, 2008 at 8:04 AM  
Blogger WavyDavy said...

Sorry, it should read "Make sure they are NOT piled in tightly." Guess my editing skills could use some work.

December 16, 2008 at 6:02 PM  

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