Like many Sydney-siders, I tend to deny that our winters can are cold. My home, shaded by large trees and built in Victorian times, is pleasantly cool in summer and icy cold in winter. I’ve passed a decade of winters trying to be warmed by a gas heater and an electric blanket.
This year, time for a change. (Apologies to my kids that it’s taken so long!)
I had a slow combustion wood fire installed. These are described as an “air-tight” firebox and you control the burning rate & intensity of the fire with an air-control. My environmental concerns about burning wood were alleviated by a bit of research: wood heaters are environmentally friendly because, unlike other fuels, burning wood generates no more carbon dioxide than if it were left in the forest to rot. Wood is a renewable resource, and good forest management (let’s hope we have that) ensures both a ready supply of timber and enough greenery to wash carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
Even the basic science of what happens when wood burns was new to me. Technically wood does not burn. As kindling and paper evaporate the moisture in the wood , the wood absorbs heat. At a certain point gases are given off and when these reach ‘flash point’ they burst into flame.
A load of well seasoned red gum firewood was delivered. I had to work for my warmth by learning to light a decent fire. My Girl-Guide training was too long ago to be of much help. It took a few smoky tries before voila! A roaring fire followed with glowing coals and warmth at last. I was mighty impressed when I ran out of kindling one night and Annette eagerly created a blazing fire using only a lot of wadded newspaper.
To poke a wood fire is more solid enjoyment than almost anything else in the world. ~Charles Dudley Warner
I have honed my fire lighting skills: burn only dry seasoned hardwood, stack a number of small logs loosely in the fire box to ensure plenty of air circulation, keep the flame lively and bright, and open the air controls fully for 5 minutes before and 15 to 20 minutes after loading the heater
A wood fire is a hearty pick-me-up for winter chills. I love the rustic feel of setting and lighting a fire. Burning wood for warmth is satisfying. True, it takes a little extra effort but, like tending a garden or cooking a meal, I’m always rewarded.
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