Tips for Wood-Fire Lovers
For a cleaner-burning fire, use a hardwood such as oak, hickory, or ash that has been seasoned for at least six months. Place logs at the rear of the fireplace, and don't overload it with too many logs at once. Never leave the fire unattended, and make sure it is completely extinguished before you leave the house or go to bed.
Store wood out-of-doors and away from the house. Place it off the ground, on a foundation of cinder blocks or on runners made of pressure-treated lumber. Fashion a mini tower of logs in a crisscross pattern at each end to allow air to circulate, and fill the space between the two towers with the rest of the logs. Cover the stack with a tarp without allowing the tarp to rest directly on the wood.
A handy alternative to wood is the manufactured fire log. However, it produces almost no heat, can be expensive, and can be hard to extinguish if necessary. If you do use one, follow the directions on the label.
Each year before building a fire, it's important to have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep to eliminate fire hazards such as creosote buildup. Also, remember to keep a fire extinguisher on hand.
- Whether you're thawing cold toes or just taking the chill off, heat from a fireplace can help loosen stiff muscles, improve flexibility, and impart a feeling of well-being. Doctors also recommend warm, comfortable temperatures as a way to brighten your mood.
- To combat dry skin from the winter cold and indoor heat, fill a stove-top steamer with water and place it near the fire to return moisture to the air.