Construction and Renovation

"Sure-Fire" Kindling

Whether you use fire starters, twigs or scrap wood this way to kindle a fire is sure to get you thinking.

If you read yesterday's post about efficient wood stove use you know I was going to give more detail about my proven kindling method. 

Start with Seasoned Wood

Seasoned, split pine kindling, when considering the alternatives, has proven for me to be the most cost effective, sustainable and hassle free way to start fires in both wood stoves and open fireplaces. I realize that this method relies heavily on access to pine firewood. 

  • Pine Firewood is often sold as "Camp Wood" by the bundle
  • A quick craigslist search is sure to turn up results too
  • Or do what I do and take down any unwanted pine trees and split it to dry for next year
Seasoned Pine Firewood

Seasoned Pine Firewood

Pictured above is about 25 cubic feet of coarsely split pine firewood that has been left to season for about twelve months. Pine seasons (dries) much quicker than hardwoods. This stack of firewood was processed for use in the backyard fire pit. What's left here will be used as kindling for fires inside. 

Split it

You can process your kindling with a maul, hatchet or splitting ax. Dry pine splits very easily (unless it's twisted and full of knots). A good system for manually splitting involves the use of both a blade or wedge and a heavy hammer or sledge. With the wood stood up or held firmly against a heavy object on the ground hold the ax or wedge against the wood with one hand and strike with the hammer in the other hand. Dry, straight grained wood should pop when split so a few short swings will do it. 

My process involves a hydraulic wood splitter. 

Making finer splits with the hydraulic wood splitter

Making finer splits with the hydraulic wood splitter

Smaller wood requires less energy to burn. The goal is to make small strips that will easily catch fire when lit over a bed of crumpled paper. 

  • Finely split hardwood can be used as kindling but it will take twice as long to catch and processing can be more challenging  

The key to successful firewood processing, whether it be kindling or cord wood is to handle the wood as little as possible. From the splitter the kindling should go directly into a wheelbarrow or barrel. The light porous nature of softwoods like pine give them characteristics like a sponge. Now that you've processed clean, dry kindling it would be a shame to leave it on the ground where it would surely draw moisture. 

Keep it Dry

25 cubic feet of pine firewood makes 4 full wheelbarrows of kindling

25 cubic feet of pine firewood makes 4 full wheelbarrows of kindling

Hurry up and get it inside!
  • You can leave your kindling outside but be sure to cover it tightly or store it under a cover. A damp day can put enough moisture in your kindling that starting a fire will take more time. 

Stack It

I wheel the kindling right over to an open cellar window and drop it in to be stacked. A neat, dry stack of kindling ensures a quick lighting, warm fire at a moments notice. Not quite as quick as cranking up the oil heat but a lot quicker than looking for dry sticks in the backyard and cheaper and cleaner than those nasty fire starter fuel bricks. 

Burn It and Enjoy It