I was researching wood stove burning info on the web, and came across a new (to me anyway) method of starting a fire. Instead of putting the kindling on the bottom, and bigger stuff on top, you start with a row of large split logs along the bottom, medium sized pieces on top of that, and kindling on top. You light the kindling and it proceeds to ignite the stuff below it. It gets the fire to the safe burn temperature a lot quicker, you don't have to keep adding to the little kindling fire to get it going, and you get a nice hot bed of coals fairly quickly. I was able to get my soapstone up to 300 degrees within 30 minutes with this method. For anyone who is paranoid about creosote buildup as I am, and worries about that first hour when the fire just isn't that hot, give it a try. It's a trip.