firewoodWikihow has a very pretty and elaborate page on How to Build a Fire Edited by Michael, Jack Herrick, Lisa Radon, Ben Rubenstein and 121 others.  It reads” Lighting a fire is only half the battle. The way you build a fire – that is, how you arrange the wood – can affect how long the fire will last and the amount of heat it’ll give off during that time. This article will provide an overview of how to build a fire in any setting.”  It goes on for several pages, with illustrations and every possibility imaginable.

Having grown up in Minnesota, I learned how to build fires from an early age.  In fact, one of my chores was to bring in firewood and to build a fire (nearly every night from about October until April), so I have made a few fires in my lifetime.  My father, being an engineer, and my step-father, being a Marine Corps Sargeant always had a few things to say about it, to put it politely.

I can definitely say now, they were all wrong.  Ok, they weren’t wrong, but we were living in the cave man days.  It wasn’t until college that I discovered a Duraflame log.  They were great, except they cost $3.00 and they last about 15 minutes.  But they were great for starting fires.  Throw one in the fireplace, light the ends, and then throw some real fire wood on top of them.  Gone were the days of stuffing newspaper under the fireplace grate, gathering tinder, starting with small logs and building up to big ones, etc.  One Duraflame log and you could be assured that even the greenest wood would catch fire heaped on top of this $3.00 miracle.  I bought a lot of them.  Especially for dinner parties and other times when you didn’t want to spend 20 minutes getting a fire going.

L1100743But there is something better.  Emergency fuel sold by the television Evangelist Jim Bakker, who my religious grandmother watched religiously in the 1980’s.  After being a multi-millionaire selling salvation to souls to being sentenced to 45 years in prison and serving just 8, he probably knows something about fire, damnation, and salvation.  And, sure enough, he does.  This stuff rocks.  Put 2 cups of Jim Bakker fire starter in the bottom of your fire-place.  Throw some logs on top.  Light the fire starter (it looks like kitty litter but this stuff catches fire instantly and burns a long time, you can even cook on it, without any other fuel or logs) and viola!  You have fire, no papers, no kindling, no tinder, no nada.  Please don’t tell Jim we use his emergency fuel for starting fires every day, he sells this for when the world will end, but we aren’t waiting—we use it everyday.  Don’t ask how we discovered it, but suffice it to say his new church (he’s out of prison now and has a new TV ministry) is between a great fly fishing stream and a foxhunt in Arkansas and it’s a great stop  along the Sporting Road.  Who knows you may even find salvation and revelation there—we did, at least in starting fires.

Alternatively, we love fatwood sticks for fire starters.  Make sure your grate is all the way at the back of the fireplace, otherwise you will create excessive smoke as the fire alternatively draws through the house and/or flute.