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Fatwood - Get Your Fire Started Quickly

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There are probably people out there who can get a roaring fire blazing away in their hearth using little more than wood and a single match.  Perhaps its magic or maybe they just know the ins and outs of building fires so well that they don’t need any of the firestarters, kindling, or other common tools used to create a fire.  But for the rest of us, not being able to get a fire going is one of the most frustrating experiences and can honestly ruin a perfectly good evening.

One of the most common tactics used to build a fire for anyone new to the fireplace experience is to place some wadded up newspaper under the grate.  While this method may prove very functional and is indeed effective when building a campfire, you do not want to use newspaper.  The ink from the paper could possibly damage the inside of the hearth, the flou, and the chimney.  

Kindling is another way to get a fire roaring quickly but it may prove ineffective if you have wood that does not burn well or is perhaps wet.  If the kindling fails to get the fire going properly, it will die out and you will need to let the grate cool, remove the logs, and try using even more kindling the next time around.  

Instead of using newspaper or kindling to get a fire started, instead try using what is known as fatwood.  This specially treated wood will get the fire roaring using a single match and continue to burn longer than kindling giving you a better chance of getting damp wood to burn.

This special fire starting wood is actually pine and typically about ½ inch in diameter and roughly 8 inches long.  The fatwood is saturated with pitch which is a highly flammable, but non-toxic, substance that ignites very easily.  And because the wood is saturated, it will continue to burn until it is completely consumed by the flames without producing any foul odor or noxious fumes.  Given its diameter, the wood will burn longer than kindling and give you a far better chance of starting a fire irrespective of the condition of the wood itself.  While you may be able to use only one piece of this specially treated fatwood, it is probably best to use a couple of pieces if the wood is damp or difficult to burn.

Starting a proper fire is definitely harder than you might imagine which is why it is best to have the right tools for the job.  Kindling will indeed work when the wood is stacked properly but using specially treated wood that has been saturated in pitch will almost guarantee you a worry free start so you can enjoy your fireplace properly.  Above all, remember to avoid using newspaper in your hearth or you risk damaging the fireplace and leading to larger problems down the road.