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Tips for a Beautiful and Safe Fire

Tips for a Beautiful and Safe Fire

By Leroy Hite, Founder and CEO, Cutting Edge Firewood
Photograph courtesy of Cutting Edge Firewood

We are entering prime fire season, with cool, crisp evenings and holiday celebrations making it the perfect time to enjoy a warm, glowing fire with family and friends. For a beautiful and safe fire, Cutting Edge Firewood CEO Leroy Hite offers the following tips.

What to Burn for a Roaring Fire

Use only dry and dense hardwood. Wet or moist wood always creates a smokier fire. As it heats, moisture in wood burns off and turns into steam, and when mixed with smoke, it makes smoke thick. Wet wood also doesn’t burn as hot.

Use kiln-dried wood if possible. Kiln-drying wood kills all mold, fungus and pests. Seasoned firewood, or wood that has sat outside, often grows mold or fungus. When mold and fungus burn, it creates a lot of smoke, so inspect your firewood for both and don’t burn it if it isn’t clean.

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Use all-natural fire starters and quality kindling. Don’t use pinecones, leaves or trash (i.e. crumpled newspaper or magazine pages) to start a fire. While they can create a quick flame, they also create lots of smoke and ash. Bits of burning paper can float away from your fire putting nearby structures at risk. Never use gasoline or petroleum-based products as these products can produce toxic fumes and cause explosions near an open flame. Instead, seek fire starters with all-natural, kiln-dried components, such as a small piece of dried heart pine – it lights quickly, keeps kindling lit and smells nice. A few small pieces won’t create a lot of smoke.

Choose hardwoods over softwoods for the fire. Evergreens are softwoods and include a lot of resin. Instead, choose hardwoods such as oak, hickory or cherry. Hardwoods – especially when kiln-dried – create less particulate emissions than other woods, making them safer for people and the environment. They burn bright and hot with pleasant aromas.

Let your fire breathe. A good fire needs three things: heat, a fuel source, and oxygen. Logs stacked too tightly together reduce the oxygen flow and can snuff out flames or can cause the wood to smolder instead of burn, creating smoke instead of flame. Try stacking your wood in “log cabin” or “teepee” arrangements to allow for optimal oxygen flow and a glowing fire. If you want to learn how to stack, start and maintain a fire, this video will be helpful.

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