• fire lays

    natural secrets • Mar 1st, 2019

    I’ve been posting a few  different fire lays on Instagram and thought to put them together in one place for reference; I’ve neglected the natural secrets side of things here so looking forward, this is the first of many future tips and tricks.

    The old wood burner in my living room is quite temperamental but we persevere with it. Having the chimney swept didn’t help much but certain fire lays work much better than others. In the garden I light a fire to enjoy a hot drink and cake when there’s leaf clearing and pruning to do and in the summer it’s lovely to gather round the fire when the sun goes down. Logs, kindling and tinder are worth preparing in advance so the fire is quick and easy to get going. I have a full basket ready in the winter. For kindling you could collect bark and small pieces of wood and for tinder, pine cones, leaves, rolls of paper and shards of beeswax. You can make these non toxic firelighters easily by melting wax and pouring it on pine cones or on a baking tray which you then pop into the freezer. After a couple of hours take the tray out and crack the wax like chocolate bark.

    Swedish torch

    The Swedish torch as it’s called is my number one for evening drinks in the garden. Ideally you need wire to bind the logs in their upright position, gaps are good so you can plug them with tinder and small pieces of kindling. You can stand the torch on the ground or on a paving slab. The torch in the photo lasted about two hours so it’s maybe worth having a second one ready.

    pyramid lay

    If you have smaller logs and no wire or string you could use the pyramid. It’s good if you want to heat food parcels or cans of beans and drinks in tin cups as there’s room under the logs once the tinder and kindling have gone.

    star lay

    An alternative would be the star lay if you have old fencing posts or large pieces of drift wood on the beach.  You need to dig a shallow hole, line it with stones and place your tinder and kindling. The wider the hole the bigger the fire. When the flame is going well, push the ends of the logs over the hole so they catch and keep pushing the ends into the fire to keep it going. It’s quite easy to sit a bbq pan on this fire for skewers, chestnuts and cobs of corn.

    criss-cross lay

    The criss -cross lay is my favourite in the wood burner: nine logs with tinder and kindling placed under the top layer and you’ll have an even burn for a couple of hours with the vents open and it’ll soon feel toasty.

    a home made briquette

    I make a few briquettes for the log burner at Christmas when I don’t want to tend the fire for long and would prefer to slow down the burn. I use two logs, tinder and thin kindling to make a sandwich which I wire together. The kindling helps keep the space between the logs open for the flames. One briquette is good for three or four hours and you can just add logs afterwards when dinner is over.

    I’ll probably add more information from your comments. Camp and hearth fires make a lovely atmosphere and we love them. I would add though that fires should never be left unattended and great care needs to be taken with children around and in summer when forest floors are dry.

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