Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Inner Pyromaniac

Call me crazy, but I enjoy sitting around the fireplace during these cold nights and watching the fire have its way. It has always been part of my family experience and have tried recreating it on a smaller scale in my apartment. I don't have the fireplace tools of my adolescent headquarters, nor the same sized-fireplace, but I get by. While my house has a poker for moving wood and a shovel to push around ashes, I merely have an old 3-iron with a cracked clubhead (part of my old apartment's memorabilia). It's sufficiently charred and does the trick when we have to poke a log or move one because of its hook design. I thought about buying a fireplace tool set, but I'll never use most of the pieces that come in a set, so you may cancel your gift orders. Anyway, using a golf club is cooler too.

When I began my firebuilding apprenticeship under my dad, I made the usual apprentice mistakes by being too aggressive by adding too much wood over the Duraflame log or firestarting bricket. I learned that you must strike a ying-yang balance between wood volume and oxygen passageways. I thought more wood meant more material for the fire to eat (and more heat). After enough fireplace theory classes, I understood that the real fuel for a fire is the oxygen. These days my fires usually reach the maximum heat production. I try to start slow with little wood on top and then add the big cuts once the foundation is going well. All that's left after that is a poke or too to stir things up.

Back in the day I used newspapers to start the fire. They're cheap and light quickly, but don't last long enough. The wood brickets do get the party started, but easily break apart with the slightest poke. The best is still a Duraflame log. Not only does it easily get the fire started, but it also lasts very long, can be poked and moved without losing its ability, and shows a touch of fireplace high class etiquette (or elitism). I might try the changing flamecolor model and see if I should believe the hype. I haven't tried any scented logs because nothing's better than what Mother Nature intended for burning (read: no gas fireplaces whenever possible).

I've always enjoyed the idea of watching a fireplace on TV. Living in a city apartment doesn't afford you the opportunity to have a fireplace because of logistics. Well, each ChanukRamaKwanMas (that's Chanukah, Ramadan, Kwanza, and Christmas) you can watch a professionally built buring fireplace. I wonder if someone's resume' actually lists, "built fire for televised fireplace" which would be changed into "Domestic Pyrotechnic Engineer". Can you go to school for that? I think it'd be really fun. You could go to fireplace building conventions, join a fireplace professional group, and eventually get a degree in fireplaceology. Ok, I took it too far.

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