Fireplace Safety Tips
There is a primeval feeling about a fire on a cold day that makes you feel empowered. Close your eyes and you will see visions of primitive men dancing and chanting in front of a blazing campfire, with drums beating in the background. Ancient man knew the value of fire; in the modern world, we are not as dependent on an open flame for warmth.
There is nothing like a nice warm fire to warm up on a cold day. Sitting next to a wood-burning stove curled up with a hot drink of your choice and a good book is a pleasant way to spend a snowy afternoon.
With the current price of wood, it takes some of the enjoyment out. You might as well burn dollar bills. I have found a way to take some of the stress off. Everyone has newspapers as well as other types of paper lying around. The landfills are so full that some places are asking you to delay bringing any more.
My solution is to make fire logs. This not only takes care of excess paper, but it also saves money and keeps the home fires burning at the same time.
Lay out the paper. You can put as many layers as you want. Or you can put shorter pieces on the inside. Start at a corner and roll as tight as you can. You want to end up with about a three-inch log. Tie it with cotton cord in two or three places. It is best not to use plastic ties.
Next soak your logs until they are good and wet. Take them out of the water and let them dry in the sun. This might take as long as three months. That is a shorter time than if it were a tree. Some people pound them with a rubber mallet to make sure they are dry. You can soak them in coffee grounds or tea leaves if you want them to turn brown and look like tree branches. They can then be stored any way you choose.
I start rolling as soon as we are done reading the paper. That way I have some soaking and some drying all year around.
Fill a large bucket with one gallon of water and add one pound of borax, table salt, or Epsom salts. Use borax to make green flames, table salt for yellow flames, or Epsom salts to produce white flames when the newspaper logs are burned. Add the newspaper logs to your fireplace and watch as the flames change color. Soak several different logs in different chemical solutions and add to the fire at the same time for multicolored flames.
Soaked and dried newspaper logs are just as effective as real logs, and can be made ahead of time for emergencies. A three-inch log will burn about an hour. If you have some tree branches, you can supplement with paper logs for a pleasing effect.
There are paper log rollers on the market, and with some of them, you can use boxes along with paper. I have never used them, since I am trying to save money I hand-roll old papers. Also, it is easier to make different size logs.
With prices for everything skyrocketing, we all have to conserve. It only makes sense to recycle where we can.
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