The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Fall 2012's first fire

Cold, rainy October

I'm officially a heating wimp this year.  I like to play fire chicken, seeing how long in the fall I can go without any source of heat.  The idea is that my body acclimates to the cold, so if I can bear with chilly weather in October, the same temperatures will feel warm in January.

Burning scrap lumberBut a cold, rainy day that never broke 50 broke me.  Monday was a very unusual day since we had to wake up in the dark, pounding rain to get to the big city for our dental checkups at 9 am.  (No cavities for either of us!)  Honestly, I think I needed the mental boost of the fire even more than the warmth when we straggled home that afternoon.

I did get the fire started with a couple of pieces of boxelder and half of a walnut round, but then I just burned scrap lumber.  Do you burn odds and ends of two by fours that are too small to use otherwise even though they're pine?

Our chicken waterer is easy to convert to a heated waterer for easy, cold weather hydration in the coop.

Anna Hess's books
Want more in-depth information? Browse through our books.

Or explore more posts by date or by subject.

About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

Want to be notified when new comments are posted on this page? Click on the RSS button after you add a comment to subscribe to the comment feed, or simply check the box beside "email replies to me" while writing your comment.

Had a bit of this discussion on facebook the past few days:) When I was very small(3 or 4)we lived in a house where the only cooking and heating came from a pot belly wood stove. The next house we lived in had a larger wood/coal furnace. Dad used to get coal, but many many times he used to bring scrap kitchen counter/kitchen cabinet bits home from work. From what my mom told me, nothing heated the house faster than the kitchen counter bits. (Although she now concedes that it most likely wasnt the best idea)
Comment by MamaHomesteader Tue Oct 9 09:10:34 2012
All we burn is pine! Well, the occassional aspen log or juniper, but living in a pine forest... That's what we cut!
Comment by Deb Tue Oct 9 09:31:18 2012

MamaHomesteader --- That sounds like a definite maybe. :-)

Deb --- Do you have trouble with creosote buildup in your chimney? That's supposed to be the danger with pine (with the resulting danger of chimney fires due to the buildup).

Comment by anna Tue Oct 9 10:54:07 2012

Pine is all that's available here- and is what everyone burns....and here, pine is free in the forest if you want to go get it. (well, a $20 permit for "dead and down" wood from the forest service is required). We spend late summer weekends going out and gathering, and now we are cutting, splitting, and stacking. We do not have a furnace of any kind, only the woodstove, so that 23 degree night is a good motivator to get busy! We re a bit behind schedule this year...:-0 As long as we clean the chimney each season, there is no problem. We do keep a chimney fire " putter-outer" next to the stove, though. some kind of chemical log that snuffs out the fire.

Comment by Deb Tue Oct 9 11:12:34 2012
We do burn odds and ends, but do not have many of them. Our main woods are juniper and pine. Hubby just climbs up and cleans the chimney ever year (which is just a good safety measure anyhow). The chimney brushes are rather inexpensive at the home improvement stores, just make sure to get a brush that fits the diameter of your pipe (the first one we bought was a little too snug and was an adventure getting out). Our biggest problem with chimney sweeping is we always seem to forget to do it when it is nice and it is a two ladder job, first climbing on top of the garage and then putting the ladder on the garage to get to the 2nd story and I end up sitting in a cold wind holding the ladder. My oldest is 14 though so he may inherit that job.
Comment by Tisha Tue Oct 9 13:07:27 2012

We burn a lot of scrap lumber and softwoods. As long as you clean the chimney, there should be no problem. The type of chimney and the type of fire you build is also a factor- A single walled sheet metal chimney will build up creosote much faster than an insulated double wall, and a slow choked fire will build more creosote than a hot quick fire. And wow, pine puts out a lot of heat fast.

Lots of people wax lyrical about burning perfectly dried oak, but really, wood is wood. The only difference is the density. Two cedar splits have about the same BTU value as one oak split. It is just that the oak will burn longer since it is so dense.

Comment by Eric in Japan Tue Oct 9 18:09:42 2012

Deb --- It's hard to turn down free!

Tisha --- We got one of those kits and have swept once a year in the spring when we finish burning. (I've read that leaving creosote in the pipes during humid summers causes them to degrade faster.) There never seems to be much buildup so far, but then, we haven't been burning pine.

Eric --- I know you're serious about your wood, so I'm glad you chimed in! I've been trying to burn the scrap lumber fast for that very reason --- I figure there's no reason to risk anything.

Comment by anna Tue Oct 9 18:59:09 2012

I second what Eric said. As long as you clean once a year or if you burn a bit check on the build up. If you fully season pine then you don't have to much to worry about. The creosote only builds up with moist from the wood. An uninsulated flue can have moisture which adds to it.

Started our first burn of the year last monday.

Comment by Marco Wed Oct 10 19:29:18 2012

Marco --- We have uninsulated pipe inside the house and insulated pipe through the ceiling and outside. Hopefully the moderate warmth inside is enough to make the uninsulated section not too bad.

Since writing this post, I've discovered that the chunks of storebought lumber are great for getting fires started. I suspect I may save them for that....

Comment by anna Thu Oct 11 07:22:04 2012

profile counter myspace

Powered by Branchable Wiki Hosting.

Required disclosures:

As an Amazon Associate, I earn a few pennies every time you buy something using one of my affiliate links. Don't worry, though --- I only recommend products I thoroughly stand behind!

Also, this site has Google ads on it. Third party vendors, including Google, use cookies to serve ads based on a user's prior visits to a website. Google's use of advertising cookies enables it and its partners to serve ads to users based on their visit to various sites. You can opt out of personalized advertising by visiting this site.