Tuesday, January 20, 2004



A lot of people ask what kind of kindling I use to start my wood stove fires. On the way to what has turned out to be the best I've used just about everything, from the standard stuff (old newspapers, shredded cardboard) to twigs, pine cones and cedar bark. I don't use paper anymore, and not just because the news is so depressing: some of the metallic inks aren't good for the catalytic combustor in the stove I have (Vermont Castings' DutchWest Federal). Now I use pinecones we pick up along the beach (Kaya loves to do this, and with the new twins there should be no shortage of pine cones in the coming years), when I have them. Cedar bark (plenty of that around here) papered between the hands can also work ok, but can be very messy, so that's a last resort. Right now I use a handful of chainsaw sawdust (always put a tarp down and save chainsaw sawdust, when you can; some of the old-timers around here mix in a little kerosene to give the sawdust some octane as a firestarter, and it works very well, but the odor just ruins it for me) piled between two pieces of starter wood, then stacked atop that some shavings and splinters I take from a piece of old easy-shaving, easy-splintering and very dry board leftover from building the house (only need a couple feet of it per winter, and I have quite a few board feet left). I touch that off and then just add splinters as needed till the fire is going well (if more oomph is required, I add a splinter off a big chunk of fragrant cedar sapwood I have); then I stack a couple more starter pieces crosswise atop that, and the morning has begun.

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