First burn (since about 1960s/70s coal fires) and a few questions. After having the chimney cleaned, L2 inspected, and finally re-capped and tested, finally got the first burn going. The insert project is going to have to wait for better fiscal times. So, it's old fashioned fireplace space-heater for now. Goes through wood quick and heat effect is minimal, but a valued back-up source, here in Sandy land. May not really help the oil situation a whole lot, but it's pleasant for sure. I think I could imagine how an insert would be a lot more wood-fuel efficient. Couple of observations, for a first timer: This was the closest feeling I've come to being in a ski lodge in Vermont, since, well the last time I was in a ski lodge in Vermont, which was a long time ago. Also, does anyone actually use a fireplace here? WHAT I DID BURN European White Birch — Smells very nice, seemed to burn hot and fast. But these were small 10" inch by 3"- 4" - 5" splits, so understandable? 10% MC reading in the face. Went through a bunch of them in a short time — maybe I needed to damp more? Thing was, by the end, the last two splits were left not completely burned — is that par for the course? If they are solid enough, I guess (?) I'll save the not-fully burned leftovers in a steel bucket outside. WHAT I AM NOT YET BURNING My own scrounged 4 month old split hardwood is still 15%-18% on the face and 29% inside a fresh split. I wonder how long this would take to get to an acceptable number if kept inside. I am tempted, however, to work one split of maple in with the fully dried wood, after I've kept it near the fireplace for a while and re-tested. EMBERS/COALS These are still crackling on the fireplace floor underneath the grate a few hours after the fire. Trust the ash pit? I will wait until all is good and done before using the ash pit. But I wonder -- how many fireplace users dispose of same day?