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You have 10 minutes to build a fire.....

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by cmonSTART, Dec 29, 2007.

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  1. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    Ok folks, based on recent events on our end, here's the scenario:

    The house is cold, you just got home, and you need to get right to bed. You want to make the most of this fire to keep the house warm (and keep the furnace from coming on). What kind of fire do you build and how do you build it?

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  2. mtcox

    mtcox Member

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    I've come to realize that it will take me and the Isle Royale most of an afternoon to bring the house from 60 degrees to 70 degrees when the house has been sitting and the stove is cold. The thermal mass we have to heat is just too much for the stove to handle in the few short hours, or minutes, before going to bed. It takes a good hour for me to get the stove where I want it and producing the heat it should. I can then load it up, set the air control and walk away.

    Having said all of that I'm not sure I would change my routine if I were in the situation you described. It may require getting up once or twice in the first hours of sleep to tend the fire.

    I've also experimented with the heat pump in the late hours of the day. I can heat the house faster than the stove but it comes at a price. It also does not heat the mass of the house as well as the stove does. I suspect this is because the stove produces a 'hot' heat and the heat pump can struggle with a 'cool' heat on the colder days. However, it will make it more comfortable for sleeping.

    It's impossible on some days but try not to let the house get below that magic temperature unique to your home. Newer homes may be able to recover from 60 degrees a lot faster than older homes. If the temperature falls below 60 in our house I know I'm in for a day of fire tending. If I keep it at or above 65 I can retrieve the 5-7 degrees we need to make it very comfortable (read: boxer shorts and a t-shirt) in a matter of an hour. Obviously outside temperatures play a major role in the process as well. Recovering the degrees in the middle of the day is easier than after sunset.
  3. JohnnyBravo

    JohnnyBravo New Member

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    start a fire as usual only add a bit more small stuff. after you light the pile prop the door (of the stove that is) open about a quater of an inch. it will get so much draft that it fans the flames. mine sounds like a jet. now stick in some big logs and keep the door proped while pick away at the left over chinese food and bursh your teeth and whatnot.
  4. They Call Me Pete

    They Call Me Pete Member

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    I'd build a log cabin style fire. In my book it burns the hottest/fastest due to the amount of oxygen it's able to pull in. This is one of my main styles I use. It allows you to put larger logs across the top without smothering fire. If I'm making a campfire I'll do the old tee pee fire but if I plan on cooking on the campfire it's back to the log cabin. I can put a grate on the fire and still add logs in the log cabin fashion as needed.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    With the 30-NC if you want a hot fire fast do this. Start a kindling fire in the middle of the firebox. When it is burning pretty good lay a large split on each side of it North/South Then lay one on top of them making a tunnel but leaving a couple of inches between the back of the firebox and the end of the top split. This creates a tunnel right in front of the primary air booster in the front of the stove. Turn up the primary air all the way up and all hell will break loose but will settle down when the stove is up to temp and you back down the primary air.
  6. Jake

    Jake Member

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    had a cold stove trhis morning, loaded it, left it and now its blazin....

    load it 3/4 the way full with 5"x5" x 18" oak sleeper cutoffs
    lon top of that some KD 3/4" white oak flooring cutoffs
    on top of that 2 pieces of fatwood
  7. Jahfre

    Jahfre New Member

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    Most of the time even if the house is cold I have coals in the stove so my normal routine is to rake the ashes, pulling the coals towards on front corner air inlet. I open that inlet and close the other one so all the air is coming in over the coals. Then I toss a handful of kindling, usually fir chips from around my splitting block. Then I go check to see if any of my water pipes are frozen. (usually they're not) Then I go stack some smaller diameter splits on the kindling and load up the other side of the stove with big, thick splits. In case this is confusing, I load the logs perpendicular to the doors rather than parallel...the size just works better based on what was delivered this year. This is why I can load one side differently than the other.

    I keep loading the stove from the cold side towards the kindling side until the entire stove is full, including the kindling side. Then I let it roar for 15-20 minutes. At that point I can open the cold side air intake a tad, close the kindling side intake down till it is open just a tad, add as much more wood as I can on top of the kindling side and go to bed. 8 hours later I'll repeat the same thing when I wake up.

    If the stove is cold, out. I do basically the same thing except that the coals I rake toward the front intake are just cold charcoal and I have to use a kitchen match on the kindling. I'm kind of fanatical about only using one match but I wouldn't go cold on account of having to use a whole stack of matches. ;-)

    Early in the season, before I've created much kindling, I'll use a fatwood stick but I split those 4 ways usually before I light them.

    Jahfre Fire Eater
  8. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    That would be my thought, except I would use as much small stuff as possible (ie ~2" dia or 2x2 block), let that burn hard and fast for 5 minutes. Then knock it down into coals, throw in your big overnight chunks, let that burn hard for another 5 minutes, then damper down. If everything is dry, it should take.
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    If you are serious about only 10 minutes before bed then forget it. Start a fire in the morning. 10 minutes isn't long enough to get a fire going well enough to damper down to zero for your safe and clean overnight burn. With these modern stoves, if you leave the intake air bove zero then you will have an overfire on a full load. If you damper to zero too soon then you will either snuff your fire or you will smoke out the neighborhood.

    From scratch I can be ready to light the fire in about 5 minutes. 10 minutes, no way. Go to bed.

    Now if you are just wanting to be in bed in the shortest amount of time as possible then the fire needs to be built of small splits since the large splits that are more desirable won't have a bed of coals to start from. Your fire won't be ideal in terms of length of burn. Light it and get it ripping. As soon as you can damper to zero without snuffing the fire then shut her down and get to bed. By this time your wife (if you have one of course) will have the bed warmed up and you will have done the best you can do.
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Given the constraints, I would consider getting a pellet stove. It will do the job best in 10 minutes.
  11. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    1.)
    Is the bed empty ?

    2.)
    Can I have ten minutes in bed and then tend the fire ?
  12. They Call Me Pete

    They Call Me Pete Member

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    I forgot to mention that I start a fire once a week. Like other I just kick coal around and throw a small piece of wood on with door cracked go make some coffee and come back to a roaring fire.

    billb3, I would assume the is NOT empty and in that case the hell with the fire. LOL
  13. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    well, I would start it as normal, let it get some kind of coal bed because thats where it will sustain the heat. starting a fire, dampering down and going right to bed isnt an option..For me, it will take about an hour at first startup before I am ready to damper down and hit the sack
  14. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    While I would defer to Brother Bart's advice since he burns an Englander, I might also suggest a top down fire since you can basically build the whole thing, light it and walk away, (after adjusting air controls of course, and you'd probably need a bit more than 10 minutes for final air control setting)
  15. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    I have been starting all of my fires with that top down method on that video, it works extremely well!
  16. swestall

    swestall Minister of Fire

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    I didn't have to start a fire from scratch since Thanksgiving, but the other day we got into the 40's and I let it die to clean the glass, etc.
    I used that top down method too. I should have put a few more papers into the mix, but it actually worked great. And, the fire that got going was
    HOT pretty fast. So, I'd do it that way.
    Then go up to get ready for bed and come back down for the final settings when you are actually ready.
    If you are in such condition that you have to fall into bed right away, just throw an extra comforter on the bed because you won't notice much anyway.
  17. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    I actually read about the top down thing on Gulland's web site earlier this season and tried it in our old stove. It works amazingly well.

    Thanks for the input folks.
  18. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    10 Min aint gonna happen with a cat stove. Not properly anyways. But if ya give your self 25 min in Sept you wont have to restart a fire all winter. %-P
  19. glassmanjpf

    glassmanjpf Member

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    I now have my wife building and lighting top down, very easy. Not familiar with the cat stoves though.
  20. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    If building on some coals, which is what I thought you meant, I would just criss-cross a bunch of small stuff and get it tripping. That itself will take 10 minutes. Then some larger and hopefully you can get it ripiing in another 10 and then damper down.

    I am not unrealistic about this, in that I will occasionally damper down my stove before it gets hot enough for a cleaner burn. Ther are just times, like when I get home at 2 AM (last night) and need to bridge it til the morning. A little creosote can be cleaned now and again...
  21. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    And at 2am no neighbors will complain. I too have gone ahead and shut down the primary air too early knowing that the fire has "caught" enough to eventually clean up the burn. In the morning the wood is consumed.
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