Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Burning Desire

It's been a long, cold winter. The wood pile is almost gone.

At times like this, those of us who heat with wood start to rate everything around us on the basis of combustibility. Scrap lumber, dead stuff from the forest, and old, broken furniture are obvious candidates. But when every BTU counts you start to look at every possibility.

Dried cat barf? Wood stove.

Detached cat dingleberry discovered in the middle of the floor? Wood stove.

Swept-up wads of shed pet hair? Wood stove.

Bacon fat? Wood stove.

Chunks, chips and sawdust from the woodshed floor? Throw it in.

Chunk of cheese get away from you in the back of the refrigerator? Some good heat there. Dried-up leftover cake frosting works, too.

You can find many devices to turn old newspaper into fire logs. Paper and cardboard don't last long unless you increase their density by layering them tightly, but sometimes a brief, joyous flare is all you need.

The other day, my parents visited and brought a basket with some oranges in it. I looked at the basket and thought, "great, more crap in the house." Then I thought, "hey, that'll fit in the wood stove." I didn't burn it, but somehow I feel better knowing I could.

Don't burn pressure-treated lumber or particle board. Don't burn plastic or glossy paper. Don't burn glues, solvents or petroleum products, pesticides and other nasties.

I don't put anything too weird into the catalytic wood stove. Its updraft design does not have a solid floor in the fire box. But the old Jotul in the basement is a classic iron box with a door on the front and a pipe out the back. It will take anything that fits.

Those dried cat barfs under the bed? Leave them. That's April's fuel.

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