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Living Around a Real Fireplace

By: Corinna Underwood - Updated: 9 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Fireplace Fire Hearth Flames Fireplace

The open hearth has been a means of providing heat, and a place for the family to gather for centuries. There is possibly nothing more homely than an open fireplace. It's the most welcoming spot in the house when there's a roaring blaze. Here are some ideas on how to make the most of the heart of your home.

Fireplace Accessories

The first thing you're going to need for your fireplace is a set of andirons. These are the two metal supports that hold the wood or coals in the fireplace. Since they provide the foundation for your fire, sturdiness is the first thing to look for in a set of andirons - they're typically made of heavy gauge steel, cast iron, or brass. And although most andirons are utilitarian by nature, they usually feature a decorative front, some of which are quite ornate.

The second most important element is, of course, the fire guard. Although the fire screen is primarily used as a safety measure (keeping sparks from escaping the fireplace), it also acts as a frame for the fireplace. Fire guards come in a wide range of designs from basic utilitarian styles to more elaborate.

Then there are other accessories like fireplace tools set. Most fireplace tool sets contain the same four tools - a poker for stoking the fire, a set of tongs for grasping logs, and a broom and dustpan set for cleaning up ashes.

How to Make the Perfect Blaze

When the temperature outside begins to drop, it's time to light the first fire of the season. And if you take the time to learn the basics, you should be able to have a roaring blaze in no time.

  • Crumple paper and put it beneath the andirons. Your andirons should hold your logs or coals a few inches off the bottom of the fireplace, and the arms in front should be high enough to securely and safely hold everything in place.

  • Use dry twigs and kindling in a bundle or "tee-pee" formation on top of the paper.

  • Light the paper, which should in turn ignite the kindling. Make sure the chimney flue is open.

  • As the kindling begins to burn, add a few small pieces of wood on top of the andirons. Be patient. Add larger pieces of wood as the fire begins to take.

  • When you've worked your way up to medium-sized logs, it's time to add a big log. You'll know it's time when you've got the beginnings of a good, hot coal bed forming on the bottom of the fireplace.

Using Your Fireplace out of Season

If you still want to enjoy the romance of flickering flames even when it's hot outside then burn candles in your fireplace. Start by lining the bottom of your fireplace with paper (so spilled wax won't stick to the hearth). Next, stack bricks in steps and cover them with different sized candles. (Remember you still need to open the flue).

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