Author Topic: fire in early morning  (Read 4185 times)

Offline azmarktb

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fire in early morning
« on: November 13, 2015, 09:17:39 AM »
I need help building a fire when first waking up. We keep our wood covered(LOL) at night do dew doesn't develop so that's not  the problem. Our wood is bought locally here in Phoenix and its usually pine, oak or juniper. Doesn't matter. We soak our wood in lighter fluid but still its very hard to keep an semblance of a fire in the early AM hours,but we have no problem at night.  please help!!

Offline keebler

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Re: fire in early morning
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2015, 09:56:51 AM »
Lint from the dryer, steel wool, wax, bacon grease, vasoline, few drops motor oil, tooth pics, popsicle sticks,

Offline Zef_66

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Re: fire in early morning
« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2015, 10:09:14 AM »
Keeping your wood dry is a good start. But it is even more important to keep your tinder dry. Really dry. This is where it all starts, literally. You need to make sure you have lots of fine tinder, lots of small tinder, and lots of medium wood. Get a good fire going with this fine, small, and medium stuff before even thinking about adding the larger stuff. In my opinion, you can never use too much small stuff.

Offline FreeLancer

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Re: fire in early morning
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2015, 12:49:30 PM »
Get a good fire going with this fine, small, and medium stuff before even thinking about adding the larger stuff. In my opinion, you can never use too much small stuff.

That's the secret, start small and move up as the fire heats up. Learn to split various thicknesses of kindling and make sure it's as dry as possible. I grew up in a house heated by wood, in the Pacific Northwest where the wood often has higher than optimal moisture, and it never took more than wadded up newspaper and kindling to get a fire going.  Cedar shingles are my favorite kindling, but probably not as cost effective these days, easy to break down by hand and light without paper.

Offline Cedar

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Re: fire in early morning
« Reply #4 on: November 13, 2015, 02:30:05 PM »
What are you building this fire in? Outside pit? Fireplace? Woodstove?

If outside, you are likely building it too large too fast. Fire likes three things: Air, fuel and heat. Miss any one of those and you will not have fire. With you soaking your wood in lighter fluid I am really thinking you are missing one of those elements. In this case I am thinking AIR. I am thinking inversion in the morning maybe, since you can get a fire going at night and not in the morning?

Fireplace. Is your flue open? Chimney clean and nothing obstructing it? Anyone living up there like Chimney Swifts or honeybees or ??

Woodstove. Are you getting draw? Each woodstove, even if it is the same make and model will act differently. If you have not run a fire for awhile, you might have to put a candle inside for a bit to get draw started. With some, it is not enough with the damper open. Sometimes you have to leave the door cracked a little, with the door damper shut until the fire gets going. I know it takes me a week to two weeks to get to be friends with a new woodstove, and I have been running woodstoves as my exclusive heat 16 years (not all in the same home, not consecutively) and many years as the food cooker and making coffee at 4 am.

Pine will leave way more creosote in your chimney than the oak, juniper is probably a rather greasy wood as the pine is. Those two I would chop up finer and start the fire with those (use newspaper which is not glossy or coloured -- just the black and white stuff), and then add the oak when the fire is going good. is a chart for the different woods and their BTU. Don't burn treated pallets, painted old wood someone pretty much paid for you to take it away, I think the Birch in northern BC Canada smells, so I avoid using it.

Make sure to clean your chimney often whether you do it, or you hire a sweep. Depending on what I am burning that could be every 3 months. Usually 2-3x a year. When the woodstove is cool, I whack the pipe with my hand to listen for any 'clinkers' which fall down. Stick a flashlight and your head up a cool fireplace to check out what is happening in that flue.

Like Freelancer said, I am in the Pacific NW and the wood/kindling can be damp and it is still rare I cannot get a fire going. I had gotten lazy last winter, and just swept up all the wood debris on the floor of the woodshed and used that to start my fire instead of chopping kindling (I had fractured 2 ribs, which is why I was being lazy).

I am curious to know why your fire is not still embers or something in the morning. Are you banking it at night? Also the rule is, whomever gets up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, feeds the fire.

« Last Edit: November 13, 2015, 02:37:03 PM by Cedar »

Offline xxdabroxx

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Re: fire in early morning
« Reply #5 on: November 13, 2015, 05:34:38 PM »
I'd be willing to bet you are rushing the process.  I'm hoping you're not using lighter fluid inside the house but it sounds like you are (probably not a big deal but who knows).  I've built a lot of fires in both fireplaces and wood stoves but never used lighter fluid (hell, I don't even use it in the BBQ but that is another topic).  I'd be willing to bet you need smaller kindling to get the fire started. 

My process for building a fire in a woodstove (fireplace is similar, maybe more paper):

Chop kindling, lots, it stores indefinitely and I enjoy the activity.  2x4's cut into about 8-14" lengths and split into pieces varying in size from a pencil to 1" sq works great for this. 

Store newspaper, not the colored glossy sheets, just the flat (not shiny) sheets.

Wad up some newspaper, you don't want rock hard balls, but you want a the newspaper to be condensed some.  I take a full size newspaper, single sheet at a time, and wad it into a ball the size of a baseball - softball.  It's going to open up as you put it in the stove but don't worry about that. 

I put about 3 sheets of paper in, then stack some pencil sized kindling on that (think tee-pee shape),  add a couple more sheets (loosely wadded up) then a layer of larger sticks, maybe 3/8"- 3/4".  Atop these Put some larger kindling, then maybe a few pieces of firewood, 2 or 3, that are no more than 2-4" around and preferably split as I find the bark doesn't burn as easy as exposed wood.  If I have split rounds I place the split side down to expose it more directly to the flame. 

(Hint:  if you pack your wood too tightly it wont get enough air flow and will smolder and go out.  If you pack it too loose there is not enough heat transfer and your paper will burn up without igniting your firewood.)

Next I light the paper and keep an eye on it.  I generally place the stove on about mid-level and leave the door cracked open.  If the fire looks like it is struggling I blow on the paper, blowing as low on the fire as I can.  Long steady breaths seem to work the best in my experience.  Before long you should be hearing the cracking of the kindling igniting, then shortly thereafter the larger firewood should ignite.  Don't leave the fire yet, you only have 15-20 minutes of firewood in there now.  Once the bigger firewood is lit, add a couple more full size pieces of firewood and close the door to the stove and adjust the damper to wherever you see fit. 

(Hint #2:  Don't take all the ashes out when you empty the stove, for some reason the ash helps insulate the fire and get it started better.  I always leave an inch or so in the stove for that reason.)

Also, stoking the fire pretty good before bed and turning it down real low should result in you having some coals left over in the morning.  Depending on how much glow there is you can decide what size wood to throw on, many times split oak will ignite with a cracked open door and a few minutes of sitting on a pile of coals. 

And finally, your mileage may vary.  haha, good luck!