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OTHER ITA SITES:
About Fireplaces And Tools
There is nothing like the warmth and ambiance of a traditional wood burning fireplace. Most everyone agrees that the heating efficiency has a lot to be desired, as most of the heat produced from the wood fire goes directly up the chimney. However, the crackle of the logs burning, along with the glow of the hardwood coals has a welcoming and relaxing effect to anybody within the space.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with a traditional fireplace. After all, the American Pioneers used one every day of their lives. This is when and where the tradition started, out of necessity. Their basic survival depended upon a fire in their cabin or living space.
A fireplace stood at one end of their cabin. It had a log chimney, chinked and lined with clay. The hearth was usually made with stones and it was their family gathering place. It was usually the mother who kept the fire burning, most of the time for cooking and to provide light and warmth.
The mother had her own set of unique cooking utensils, used to cook over the fire, as well as tools for maintaining the fire. While in the cabin, her chores were done mostly by the light of the fireplace.
Now a fireplace such this has been improved and modernized for the homes of today. Certainly people occasionally cook in them, but mainly they are used for heating the living space, as well as ambiance, as mentioned earlier.
Concrete chimneys, bricks and masonry, not to mention steel chimney caps to keep out the rain and critters, have replaced log and clay construction. Most fireplaces have a steel damper that opens and closes to control the fire and prevent drafts.
Maintenance has to be performed to keep the fireplace operating properly and safely. An occasional chimney cleaning is most important. This prevents the buildup of creosote that can catch fire on the walls of the chimney in the event of extreme temperatures. A chimney fire can be a most dangerous and unpleasant event.
While on the subject of creosote buildup, it should be mentioned that burning only seasoned hardwoods, such as oak, apple or hickory, could slow the process down.
More often than not, the homeowner has a set of fireplace tools handy, usually on display near, or on the hearth. These tools are used to occasionally clean the burning chamber of ashes and soot. A small broom and shovel are usually accompanied by a fireplace poker, which is used to adjust the burning logs and move the hot coals, thereby adjusting the flames and maintaining the heat.
A fire poker is the handiest of the tools mentioned above, and a wrought iron fire poker will last for a lifetime. Used for tending a fire in the fireplace or a campfire, there is no better tool to have at your disposal. The fire poker exists for safety, efficiency and prevents burnt shoes, clothing and fingers.
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