Wood, Warmth and For The Love of Things That Burn....
Laying In The Wood for Winter
Even though the days are still warm, the nights are beginning to hint that winter is around the corner so get prepared. Everything must be put to bed or put away before that first snowflake falls.
This week we lay in our wood for winter. Switching to woodstove heat over our oil burner is one of the biggest things we did in our homefront strategy. Heating with primarily the woodstove cut our heating bill almost in half. We typically go through four to five facecord of wood each season.
I grew up with a woodstove. My father was brilliant enough to actually run the water through it to heat water in the winter. When the woodstove was going, we could make tea from the tap! It was located in our basement and many a day after school my brother and I would discover that we had wood to stack. Don't tell anyone, but stacking wood is one of the chores I never disliked doing. I find the process a little like fitting a puzzle together and it affords a lot of meditative time.
Nothing like a quiet night in front of a warming woodstove!
A woodstove heat is different than many others you may have encountered. It's a lot warmer in many regards.
We actually began our journey with the woodstove by getting a fireplace insert (LOPI, Liberty) that not only provided heat during the winter, but actually juts out enough to be able to cook on the surface should the power or furnace go out. I chose a woodstove over a pellet stove for that very reason. A pellet stove, it was explained to me, requires an electronic start to get going. A woodstove is completely manual so should all electricty go out, you are still in good shape. The inital woodstove was supposed to heat the entire house, but we discovered it only heated about half way. So when some money came our way, we invested it in a second woodstove (Osburne) which is, admittedly, more decorative, but it's a focal point in a room we spend a lot of time in so it's justified. This is our primary stove and during the winter, we can get that thing up to 80 degrees! There is nothing better than turning out the lights after a long day of work and fighting the snow than to turn out all the lights and tv and simply watch the fire burn. The concept of keeping the homefire burning becomes instantaneously clear and comforting.
To lay a good fire, you need to start with firestarters. Firestarters can be bought but they can be expensive. If you have some basic ingredients though, you can make yours anytime you need them. Here is how I do it:
SIMPLE, HOMEMADE FIRESTARTERS
Old muffin tin
Paper cupcake liners
Woodshaving (pet supplies) or sawdust
(Opt) drier lint
Canning wax and/or the remains of old candles.
A wax pitcher (available in any craft store)
A medium size pot and water
Watch Your Wax!
Lay down several layers of newspaper to protect your work surface.
Put you muffin tin on the paper and fill each slot with a paper muffin tin liner.
Fill with woodshavings, saw dust and optional drier lint if desired.
Meanwhile, get your water boiling in the pot. Once boiling reduce heat to med or med-high. Put in your wax pitcher (I bought mine at AC Moore with a 40% off coupon available on their website most weeks) and put in your canning wax or the base of your cancel jar to melt the wax. Keep an eye on your wax and be very careful. Some candle wax, especially the cheap ones, can ignite quickly. If this happens. DO NOT THROW WATER ON IT! Rather, smother the flame with a pot lid. I haven't had this happen while making firestarters but I used to put old candle jars on the woodstove and did have one of the cheap ones ignite so I speak from experience.
As it melts, carefully pour the melted wax into your prepared firestarters. I don't wait for the entire thing to melt because it would simply take to long. Fill each muffin tin so that all the woodshavings/sawdust/drier lint has been captured or imbedded in the wax. It's ok if it's not completely covered but it needs to be held in place by the wax. Let harden a couple of hours and pop out. Place in a convenient place.