But The Fire Is So Delightful

'Tis the season for long evenings in front of a roaring fire. Think of the romance, the warmth, the relaxing sounds of crackling wood and the thoughts of reduced energy bills dancing in your head.

If you've never started a fire yourself before, or have never had much luck building one, this is the time of year to learn how. It's not as difficult as you think it might be.

What do you need to start?
* Dry wood - a must!
* A clear, level spot - clear away all ashes and debris.
* A starter - crumpled up paper or our favorite, fatwood. (Do a search for local suppliers)
* Fire - matches or an insta-lighter.

1. Light your starter material and place it in the back of your fireplace. Go as far back as you can and begin to layer small pieces of kindling on top. This will create a nice bed of coals on which to build your fire.

2. After you have a bed of hot coals, you can place larger pieces on top to feed the fire. Set your largest logs on the andirons (the metal stands that keep the wood from rolling out) so they will catch as the fire gets larger. Your bed of hot coals ensures that you don't have to repeatedly light more kindling.

3. Practice, practice, practice! The fun part is trying this again and again. If something didn't go well today, build another one tomorrow and try something different. Always start with small pieces of wood and work your way up.

* My personal disclaimer: Just because I want you to have fun building fires in the fireplace doesn't mean you should play around until the house burns down. Be smart! Please be careful and use as many safety precautions as possible. That means keeping a fire extinguisher handy.

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