Have you ever struggled with getting a fire going in your fireplace? There are a few things you need to know in order to burn efficiently and to produce the kinds of fires you want. Here are some tips that will help you get a beautiful, warm fire quickly and easily:
Get the Fire Started
There is a simple model often used to teach about the three elements necessary for wood-burning fires, and it is called the “fire triangle” or the “combustion triangle.” The three necessary components to get a fire started are: heat, fuel, and oxygen; this is just a good thing to keep in mind if you have problems starting a fire.
There are various ways to start or rekindle a fire. A tried-and-true method is to set kindling on top of newspaper and use a match or lighter to burn the paper. Never use glossy magazine pages because they can release toxic fumes.
For the kindling fire to catch on, it must get plenty of oxygen. Be sure there are air inlets which can help to produce quick results; a fireplace grate helps with getting air to a fire. In a fireplace, opening the damper will ideally create all the draft that is needed for the fire.
Do not use any type of liquid, such as gasoline, to get a fire started because it is extremely dangerous to do so, in addition to being unnecessary.
Burn the Right Fuel
The type of wood you burn determines the type of fire you will have. Firewood that has not been properly dried out has too much moisture inside, is highly inefficient, creates a smoky fire, and creates very little heat. Wood that has been properly dried or seasoned, on the other hand, will burn cleanly, produce very little smoke, and provide warmth.
There are two basic types of wood you can burn, those being hardwoods and softwoods. Softwoods can also heat homes effectively, hardwoods however have more density and produce hotter, longer-burning fires. Olive wood for instance is naturally very hard and durable.
Burn Quickly or Slowly
If the firewood is stacked loosely and arranged in a crisscross pattern with at least three pieces, it will burn more quickly. For a quick, rapidly burning fire that takes the chill out of a house on a mild wintry day, stack small pieces of firewood loosely.
For a slow-burning fire that produces more heat, pack the firewood tightly and use larger pieces.
Responsible wood-burning means that while you are enjoying the heat from a fire in your home, you are contributing a very small amount of emissions to the atmosphere.
As recently as the 1980s, it was common for a wood-burning appliance to emit 42 grams of particulate matter per hour. Today’s approved wood burning stoves and fireplaces, on the other hand, emit a maximum of 7.5 grams per hour. Burning wood responsibly involves a bit more than buying the right kind of appliance, but it is an easy goal to reach.
Burn the Right Fuel
The type of firewood you burn has a lot to do with how efficient your fires are. There are many different types of trees that can be burned, each with their own unique attributes. When it comes to efficiency, the important thing to remember is the difference between seasoned wood and unseasoned wood.
No matter what type of wood you burn, it needs to be seasoned or properly dried. It typically takes about six to nine months for firewood to dry out when stacked properly. The wood should be off the ground, stacked neatly, and covered at the top, to keep the rain off. Wood that is properly seasoned is darker in color than green logs, has cracks in the end grain, and has a hollow sound when tossed against another log.
The goal in drying out wood is to achieve a moisture content of less than 20%. Wood moisture meters are available that you can use to test your wood’s moisture content before you burn it. The moisture content in our firewood is between 17 and 22 %.
Burn Efficient Fires
Another way to be responsible in your wood-burning practices is to burn efficient fires. Start fires with dry kindling and newspaper; never use a combustible liquid in your wood-burning appliance. An efficient fire is never slow and smouldering; instead it is hot and achieves complete combustion. Do not burn a fire that is larger than what is needed for the space ou intend to warm up. Routinely remove ashes from the appliance, to maintain proper airflow that gives fires the oxygen essential for efficient combustion. (Be sure to use safe practices for ash removal, storage, and disposal, to prevent hazardous fires.)
Practice Proper Chimney Maintenance
A well-maintained chimney is another component necessary to achieve efficient wood-burning. If the chimney is obstructed by an excess buildup of creosote or by debris caused by lack of maintenance, fires will not have an adequate draft to burn efficiently. If you schedule an annual chimney cleaning and inspection and address needed repairs, the chimney will help to achieve responsible wood-burning.
How can you help save the environment, save money and still heat your home completely all winter long? Wood burning stoves use a replenishable and inexpensive fuel that is extremely efficient especially when modern appliances are used. Wood burning stoves may seem old fashioned, but the rustic, old fashioned look and feel comes with modern efficiency and capabilities these days. You do not have to choose one over the other, the romantic blaze from a wood burning stove or fireplace insert can also heat your home and save you money.
Is burning wood really a “greener” way to heat or supplement the heating of your home? Well, to begin with
- burning wood for heat does not add to your individual carbon footprint.
- wood gives off the same amount of carbon whether it is burned up or decays naturally and is considered Carbon Neutral
- wood is a “renewable” resource; unlike oil, coal, or gas – when we run out of those fuel sources, they’ll be gone for good. Wood harvesting techniques are based on a sustainable model, so wood will be there for us in the future.
- we cannot grow oil, but we can (and do) grow more trees
- the cost of production and transportation associated with the non-renewables.
- from a “green” perspective, wood comes out just great
As compared with fossil fuels and other energy sources, the benefits of wood far surpass its competition. New wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts are engineered with fuel economy in mind and health and environmental concerns kept as the highest priority. While fossil fuels contaminate the environment and then are used up and cannot be replaced, wood burning has made drastic improvements in burning efficiency and without emissions and can be easily used sustainably.
Still need more convincing?
Low Cost – Wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts are the most cost effective source of energy. Wood costs roughly a third the cost of natural gas, electricity or oil. Coal, gas and oil are fossil-based, non-renewable resources. And in the last year, costs for these commodities have soared along with the electricity prices. Don’t get caught in these traps. A wood burning stove is your way out.
Emissions – Today, high efficiency wood burning stoves and fireplace inserts can maximize the heat dispersed from a burning log and these stoves leave behind little evidence of the wood burning as it is almost completely burned besides minor amounts of ash. The new stoves produce only about 2-5 grams of smoke per hour of burning. And even less ash. For this reason, some modern stoves are so completely clean burning that they are approved for use in smokeless areas indoors. A wood burning stove is designed to burn at much higher temperatures. This means gases present in the smoke are fully burned and not released back into the atmosphere. This results in a thermal efficiency of around 80%. Which means that a log burnt in a modern wood stove can get around 4 times more heat than one log in an open fire.
Carbon Neutral – Again, the process of burning wood also does not emit any additional carbon dioxide than the natural biodegradation of the wood if it were left to rot on the forest floor. Over the course of a tree’s life it absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then releases this carbon dioxide when it either decomposes naturally or is burned. For this reason, no CO2 is added to the atmosphere, it simply releases the carbon dioxide that was previously accumulated back into the environment. Wood is a very environmentally friendly source of fuel because it is carbon neutral. Fossil fuels on the other hand, are not carbon neutral. Fossil fuels have stored and accumulated carbon over hundreds of years and then, all at once, this carbon is released in its entirety when the fossil fuels are burned. This process adds substantial amounts of carbon dioxide to the environment.
Sustainable – Wood is an abundant resource and unlike many of the alternatives, a renewable one too. Today we have more wooded acres than we did 100 years ago and the balance is carefully managed to preserve our wooded lands. The days where clear cutting was acceptable are over and the concept of planting more than you harvest is alive and well.
In the case of olive wood things get even better: since olive trees need to be pruned regularly, the offcuts make a perfect, eco- friendly material. And this is precisely how we work: we never cut down trees.
Fireplaces are favourite amenities that most buyers consider a plus when searching for a new home, for an extra touch of architectural vitality to a house, inside and out. There is a number of benefits of having a fireplace in your home, and here are some of them:
No other type of heating appliance offers the kind of cozy warmth that you can only get from a fire. Whether you have an open hearth, a fireplace insert, a wood stove, or a pellet stove, you can watch the fire dancing as the outside cold melts away. Fireplaces offer a cheerful place to gather around crackling flames with family and friends, to pull up in a favorite chair and read a good book, and enjoy countless other favorite indoor activities.
A Romantic Setting
Sitting in front of a fire with the person you love, perhaps sipping wine, can be very romantic. Few features in the home offer an instant potentially dreamy escape, like a fireplace.
Warmth when the Electricity is Out
When the worst kinds of winter storms hit, electricity is often knocked out. If you have a fireplace, you can still keep warm and have plenty of light. People without fireplaces are freezing cold and waiting for the utility company to restore power.
Fire for Cooking
If you have a wood burning stove, you have the added benefit of being able to cook on it. Save money on your utility bill by heating your soup or coffee on the stove as the fire warms your home. Whenever the electricity is out in any season, meals will not be a problem, since you can still cook. Even with an open hearth fireplace, you can roast marshmallows and hot dogs on sticks.
Today’s wood burning appliances are incredibly efficient, producing plenty of heat to warm your home, meaning you can use less of the fossil-fueled energy supply. Some of the latest models even make it possible to distribute the heat from the appliance throughout the home using existing ductwork. In addition, when you burn wood, you are using a source that has a zero carbon footprint. Some top-of-the-line wood burning appliances produce such a small amount of emissions, they qualify as smokeless heat sources. Wood is a sustainable energy source, unlike fossil fuels.
Cut Energy Costs
As electricity costs continue to climb, fireplaces are becoming a popular primary heating source. It costs less to purchase firewood for your efficient wood burning appliance than to heat your home using utilities that depend on fossil fuels.
Fireplaces provide an opportunity to be less dependent upon utility companies. You can take responsibility over your own fuel source, including how much you pay, due to various options as far as where and how to obtain firewood. If you own a lot of heavily wooded property, you may even have an endless supply of free firewood.