Burn Wise Fires this Winter

Date: 18 Dec 2014 Tags: , ,
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You know just what to do: You’ll throw another log on the fire, roast chestnuts and marshmallows, and head for the couch with a blanket, a good book, and your fuzziest fuzzy socks to while away the hours until — slowly but surely — the sun begins making its return trip north (T-minus 4.5 days). Now that’s a plan. And it’s a good one.

We just have two questions:

When can we come over? AND Are you familiar with best practices for burning wise?

Consider these practical tips for building a fire.

  • When a fireplace or woodstove is installed correctly, the only thing that smokes will be your chimney/exhaust. Remember, where there’s smoke there’s fire — and not necessarily the good kind. Wood stoves require at least 36 inches of clearance from combustible surfaces.
  • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned yearly.
  • Opt for firewood with a moisture content less than 20 percent. A wood moisture meter (available for purchase wherever wood moisture meters are sold) will help you test these levels before burning.
  • Opt for firewood that has been properly seasoned; this you’ll be able to tell because well-seasoned wood is darker, sounds hollow, and will have cracks in the end grain.
  • Start your fire with newspaper, dry kindling, or some other sort of organic fire starters, but never with gasoline, kerosene, or charcoal.
  • Do not burn garbage or cardboard.
  • Don’t burn plastics, foam, magazine pages, or wrapping paper, as these materials contain certain chemicals that produce harmful fumes when burned.
  • Likewise, it is always inadvisable to burn coated, painted, or pressure-treated wood; driftwood, plywood, particleboard, or any wood containing glue; and wet, diseased, or moldy wood.
  • Ensure at least two feet of clearance between your fireplace or woodstove and all flammable accouterments, including but not limited to drapes, furniture, rugs, and books.
  • Keep firewood outdoors (stacked and covered) and bring it inside as needed.
  • Build, and burn hot fires. A smoldering fire is not a safe fire, nor an efficient one.
  • Keep a glass or metal screen in front of your fireplace at all times, except when kindling, stoking, or extinguishing a fire. Doing so will keep embers and sparks inside the hearth, and away from your family.
  • Burn woodstoves twice a day to prevent excessive buildup of creosote, a wood preservative made from coal tar.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher nearby.

And hey, don’t forget the cocoa.

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