Ponder Wood

Copyright LARRY PONDER. All rights reserved. 

Starting a Fire
I thought I’d spend a few minutes to briefly describe how I start fires in my own fireplace at home. I use only wood I cut and sell at my lot, and so I’m constantly trying out my own product. I wouldn’t sell you anything I don’t use myself.
There is a little more attention to detail required with a “real wood” fire though, and I’m happy to pass along what I know.
Fires are built, somewhat like a house is built. You have to have a good base and build up.
Take two medium sized pieces of firewood and place them in your fireplace on the grate, about a fist sized distance apart.
You can either use newspaper, advertisement & junk mail or commercially available fire starters (compressed wood shavings in wax) as your “lighter” (the thing you’ll put a match to). If you build it right, newspaper always works for me and it’s cheaper. Wad up a couple sheets of newspaper or a piece of fire starter and place that in your fireplace between the firewood.
Next is “kindling”. Kindling is easily combustible small sticks or twigs. I get mine while splitting wood at the lot, and you’re welcome to collect some for yourself while you’re there, just bring something to put it in. Place a double handful of kindling on top of the newspaper/fire starter, leaving someplace to put the match
Next you need small pieces of wood, no larger than 1 inch in diameter and as long as the wood you intend to burn. I split larger firewood pieces down into these, usually getting 6 pieces for every 1 larger piece I split up. Layer these in a “tee pee” fashion over the kindling and newspaper. This is the true base of your fire and will be the coals that start larger pieces of wood burning. Stack on a double hand full of these.
Make sure the flue on your chimney is open
Light the newspaper/fire starter
The flames from the newspaper will ignite the kindling, and the kindling will ignite the smaller pieces of wood.
As the smaller wood burns stack more pieces on, gradually increasing the size of the pieces you’re putting in.
Be patient and allow the fire to breathe. If you pile on too much too quick you’ll smother the fire. If you pile on too much wood and it does catch, you may end up with a bigger fire than you wanted.
Remember that as long as you have coals you can always put a little kindling on them and build up from there.
Note that if you have a gas starter type fireplace, you’ll still need to start small and work up to full sized logs. You can eliminate the newspaper/fire starter, but I still recommend kindling and smaller wood until you have a good bed of coals.

This is how I do it, whether I’m using the fireplace, our fire pit, or camping. I hope it’s helpful to you. 

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