I now have my first fireplace since I left home at the age of 17. When I picked my new home, the fact it had a fireplace didn’t play into my choice, but I was very pleased to have one all the same. I love having a fire on a cold day and I have great memories of sitting in front of a roaring fire as a child. On the other hand, my home is a condo, I don’t want to get a huge amount of firewood delivered, and it has been ages since I actually started a fire. So, of course, I turned to the web.
A lot of options
I was astounded at the number of options available for starting fires these days. I assume that these options did not exist when I was a child. We just used newspaper and firewood for our fires. Come to think of it, I am not even sure where my father got the logs. It could have been from our property, since we lived in the country. I also don’t remember if we used kindling, or just managed with paper. I know we didn’t use artificial logs or fire starters of any kind.
First I considered purchasing regular logs locally. I learned about cords of wood. I figured 1/4 of a cord would be the right amount. But then I read that you are supposed to store the wood reasonably far from your house because of insects. Ugh. This did not make me happy. I cannot store the wood far from my house, it would have to be pretty much right up against it. I also don’t want to deal with insects.
Real logs from a store
I found myself wondering if I could get real logs from a store that perhaps were managed in some way to prevent insects. Sure enough, Lowes sold logs. Also, Wegman’s sells logs. Compared to the price of having seasoned wood hauled to my house, the pricing was comparable. Since I knew I wouldn’t have access to kindling, I decided to get a fire starter to go with the logs. I managed pretty well with these, and got a nice fire going.
Easy light logs
Before I got the real logs I purchased two items at Home depot. One was called Stax. The other I will get into in a moment. The Stax logs lit very well, but they didn’t last very long. Also one pack of three was really enough for just one fire. So while Stax was easy, I really didn’t find it to be cost effective. No fire starter necessary.
My most recent purchase was pack Duraflame logs. These actually worked very well. One log lasted for about 2-3 hours, so they were cost effective. Again, no fire starter necessary.
I also tried Uncle Ethans logs. I have gotten some flack for what I wrote originally, so I will adjust it. These logs are not meant for a fireplace. They are meant for wood burning stoves. If you use them as intended, they are fine. If you use them in a regular fireplace you will likely have a bad experience. Which I did.
Update – Duraflame Crackle (February 8, 2013)
Since the Duraflame worked so well I decided to try the Crackle. What a disaster. These were almost impossible to light. I ended up adding paper as well as a second crackle to get a decent fire going. I cannot recommend them.
Update – Duraflame Natural (November 11, 2013)
The new thing from Duraflame is called Natural. Since I didn’t see any regular Duraflame, I picked this up. It works quite well. Lights easily, leaves little after it burns, and lasts pretty long.
If you find yourself in the same position as me, and cannot store wood safely (without worrying about insects) then I recommend you shop around for wood from a hardware store or a grocery store. Compare the prices to regular wood remembering that you are getting wood that is insect proof and well seasoned. If you want something that lights very easily, consider something like Duraflame or Stax. Again, shop around price wise. Fire starters can be a big help with real logs. Look for fire starters that last a while, it helps to make sure you can get the logs burning.