How we Start a Fire on the First Try

Every morning I light the fire. It is my job…somehow. I have searched high and low for ways to succeed on the first match and I would like to share one thing that seems to work well. Stick bundles. This goes in the firebox above a wad of newspaper and below the split kindling.

Every fallen limb in our yard is regularly gathered up by the kids (mostly maple) and dragged into the house where they cut it to about 10″ lengths, bundle it with others into a 2″ log.

Bundle1I like these better than pine cones for lighting the fire. Not only does a bundle light quickly, it also burns hot and leaves a nice pile of charcoals behind to encourage the remaining wood to burn. And it gives the kids something productive to do with a few minutes of their morning while utilizing more of the wood our farm generates…not to mention the endless sisal twine.

Bundle2So an hour’s worth of work by the kids and we get a week’s worth of easy-to-light fires. I appreciate their contribution both in collecting twigs from the yard and in making the bundles. They appreciate standing behind the warm wood stove on a cold morning. Everybody wins.

Please let me know if you have any other tips to help me light the fire on the first match.

5 thoughts on “How we Start a Fire on the First Try

  1. When we lived in Kansas some of my coworkers talked about going out on the prairie when they were kids to find dried cow patties to start fires. It made sense to me, but I never tried it.

  2. We, or I should say my wife, makes dryer lint and old candle wax balls in an egg carton. Works great for us. I gather the twigs in our house.

  3. I’ve made the fire starters Steve describes quite often – also used sawdust with wax – if you add Epsom salts to those fire starters, the flames are supposed to make colours. Another way to make starters is to roll up bits of newspaper, tie them tight round the middle and dip them in wax. The string you tied them with is the wick. These are about the size of your thumb when finished.
    I like to twist a couple of sheets of newspaper, like I’m twisting a wet towel, and use them under the kindling – I make sure I have a paper edge on the outside to light. I seldom used a woodstove, this is campfire experience, which I know is pretty different.
    This guy writes for Mother Earth News sometimes, he seems knowledgeable:

    • And I meant to say I think the twig bundles are a fabulous idea. Wish they still used the sisal twine on bales round here, but they switched over to the plastic stuff years ago.

      Also, now you’ve had your stove a while, any comments on how you like it/what made you choose that brand/style, what you’d do differently, etc?

      • We love our Sopka Magnum stove. This response should be a post of its own but I’ll try to keep this short. The stove works.very well and I don’t think I would do anything differently, though Julie would change one thing. She would put it in a different house.

        We bought it for a number of reasons. Primarily, it is a very clean-burning stove and it approximates the stove we wanted but couldn’t buy, the Homewood Stove. We’ll probably put one of those in our NZ vacation home (lol).

        I think we’ll have our stove for a long, long time. Look for more detail in a full post later.

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