Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fire building for Innkeepers

It's that time of year when our guests start to think of sitting in front of a nice warm fire this fall or winter as the temperatures start to drop.  If we have wood burning fireplaces or stoves, we think about gathering or chopping wood and dividing it into sizes.  You may have the fires all ready for the guests to light or you may provide them the materials and let them build their own.

So what type of wood do we need.  An old Girl Scout saying is that wood comes in three sizes, tiny tots, kindergarten and full grown kids.  This translates into Tinder, Kindling, and Fuel. 

Tinder -  gets the fire started and should be no larger than the thickness of  pencil lead.  It should be easily broken off or gathered from the ground.  The wood should not be bendable but bone dry.  The size should be about the width of your hand or just a bit larger.  You should gather enough to fill your hands when your fingers are touched together.

 Kindling - some larger pieces to build the fire up should be about the size of your thumb. The wood should be about the length of from your elbow to your index finger.  You should gather enough to fill a double arm load of wood.

Fuel - wood in varying sizes from the size of your wrist to 10 inches in diameter and in varying lengths as your fireplace or stove will allow. 

The one thing that you may also want to consider is fire starters.  These go under the tinder and usually catch very quickly.  They can be made of various homemade materials.  
  • Cardboard egg carton sections filled with sawdust or pieces of cardboard covered with candle wax  Tear apart and use as needed. You can also use dryer lint or Pistachio shells
  • Use pine cones covered with wax.
  • Newspaper twists.  roll a sheet of newspaper, bend it in half, twist the ends together and fasten with twine. You may also dip the ends in candle or parrifin wax. 
  • Cut waxed milk cartons into strips to be used as tinder in your campfire.
  • Stuff paper towel or toilet paper rolls with paper.
  • Use dried pine needles
  • A “twister” type of pencil sharpener is great for shaving kindling (especially if the wood is damp)
  • Use wooden ice cream orpopsicle sticks which you can keep in a watertight container
Once your fire is going, be sure to put a screen in front of the fire to catch any sparks that may fly.  Also have a fire extinguisher in each room that has a fireplace.  Put this at least 10 feet away from the fire source where you can easily reach it.

Other fire tools that should be available at each fireplace are a shovel, tongs, and/or a poker.    Remember before you or your guests leave a fire alone, be sure that it is out and that any left over pieces that have not burned are are moved apart from each other. 

Hope your guests enjoy sitting in front of the fire with a nice cup of hot liquid and some of your homemade goodies.


Lynda and Howard Lerner
Inn Caring