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Some recent opinions as to what folks are using to start their fires. Feel free to add to or edit these entries.
There are many sources for kindling. Wind blown sticks one can pick up in the yard. Ends cuts from any building or remodeling job The best is oak flooring cutoffs. What about picking up the small splits that are a by product of any splitting process? Again dry bark another good source. One can also create mini splits from end logs that are cut offs. So many ways to build a decent fire with what is available and free. The only commercial product I have used is fatwood and IT does work rather well.
I do collect all the long splinters from processing and put them aside, and as needed I process my own kindling. This is where my Mean Green Splitting Machine really shines. It allows me to place the wedge exactly where it needs to be to create small kindling splits. The wood is held in place between the wedge and the base, so you don't have to hold or balance a small piece of wood, and then try to hit your spot (instead of your hand) with the ax.
I never had good luck with Fatwood. It was hard to lite and didn't seem to burn well after that. I use a small chunk of Pine Mountain fire starters under some kindling and it never fails me. $6 for a box of 24 will last me all season.
I use sticks from the trees, splitting material,etc stuffed into cereal boxes and stored in the shed to keep it bone dry, maybe 5 boxes worth. I tear the box lengthwise when loading it into the stove, stuff some paper in there too and voila.
I use twigs and the scraps from the processing area in my yard. If I ever run out of these items thereis a Truss manufacturer about 5 miles from me. Tons of end cuts from the manufacturer free for the taking. I use mostly in the chimnea for evenings ouside.
Packing empty cereal boxes with small sticks....
The cereal box, with the plastic liner removed, is nothing but a neat way to store all the twiggs and stuff. I stumble around the yard with beer in hand, and load the boxes up. I mix all sizes of sticks in the box. Keep them in the shed so they stay dry. I am doing something constructive.
The key is to make a lengthwise tear down the center of the box, and place it in the stove, tear side down with crumpled newspaper underneath. That cardboard is rather dense and really does not light easily. But once it does, it provides a nice boost to really get the draft and fire going.
Oak Flooring scraps and Tabacco Sticks
Oak flooring scraps, yeah! Like gold out here. I just visited a job site to look at an oak flooring install. There were two big boxes of scraps hanging out by the door. Oh boy did I want to get them. But the homeowner has a Scan stove and will put them to good use. Ah well, we should be generating flooring scraps ourselves soon.
I was given a bunch of old tobacco sticks. I think they are Oak. Plugged in the miter saw and started cutting them into small pcs. After a couple hours I had two 55 gal. drums full of kindling. This is the first time I used tobacco sticks for kindling. I don't see any reason why they would not work for kindling.
A little reminder. The best kindling in the world wont light unseasoned wood. In my pile i had some stuff that isn't full cured. I have been fighting my stove all morning trying to get it cranking, the entire time grimacing knowing that I'm filling my chimney full of creosote.
Shavings from the Shop
The small brown paper lunch sacks that I filled with wood shavings from my shop have turned out the be trememdous firestaters.Since I have another 10+ gallons to empty out of my DC, I'll sack up 10 or 20 more. You just put the bag in the stove, pile smaller splits ontop of it, and light the bag. the shavings burn and because they are so loose, as they burn, the ash falls away to expost more shavings. One small sack is enough get the firest started, The bags are standard size lunch bags that the wife picked up from Target.
Old Cedar Fenceposts
I use old cedar fenceposts that I have in a pile. Cut them to length and split them with the hachet. In our outdoor Chimnea it takes 3 narrow pieces, some newspaper and a little cardboard to get 2 or 3 four inch diameter maple logs going strong. I think this should work when I get the woodstove installed. I have tons of small branches in our woods that would work as well, but the cedar is really nice. The downside to the cedar is that it pops until it's consumed.\