I’m a fireplace girl.  I mean, I lovvvvvvvvvveeee to snuggle up in front of a warm roaring fire on a cool night and just watch the red, gold and orange flames flicker away. 

I’m a novice fireplacer. (Fireplacer: One who owns a fireplace.)   In my experiences came, shall we say issues …or maybe I was the issue? 

First and foremost was the wood.   It seems the fire wood is supposed to be cured or what do they call it? Oh, yeah, “seasoned” for a long time.  Who knew?  I wondered why I got such a good deal on the “green” wood (I thought the color would go great in my living room rug). 

Then, there was the matter of the heat rising.  So, like any other prudent girl would do, I turned on my ceiling fan counter clockwise to try to circulate the air (so much for cutting down on electricity, huh?) 

And lastly, my fireplace was one of those regular masonry fireplaces which seemed to suck more of the heat up the flue than it put out into the room.  So, what warmth I did get from the fireplace would make the room toasty warm, but the rest of the house was cold.  Bottom line, I was losing about 90% of my heat up the chimney!

Soooo, when it came time to look into building my retreat home, I immediately thought fireplace!   But remembering that the majority of the fireplaces built nowadays are more for aesthetics than function, and, my home was going to be in a colder climate, I needed a more reliable heat source – for the whole house – especially if I ever encountered a “non-electrical” situation.  

That’s when I stumbled upon the wood stove.

Now, I am not going to get in to the technical stuff because if I did, I’d simply be writing without a clue of what I was saying.   So, instead I’m going to do the best I can in “girl” talk.

It appears catalytic stoves are the mac daddy of wood burning stoves.  And, for a whole lot of technical reasons (enough said).  But, for simplicity sake, here’s what I’ve learned. 

The catalytic stove is pricey.  But, it burns longer, and therefore fewer trips to the wood shed. It stays cleaner and there is less chance of chimney fires.  And, then there are the non catalytic ones – the more common ones.

To have or not to have that is the question (a thermostat that is.)  Consensus is, wood stoves with thermostats are much better at controlling the burn, and maintaining a more even temperature in the house and are usually found on the stove itself.  A stove without a thermostat usually requires using a manual air intake control (a do-it-yourself kinda thing.)

I also learned that it is best to place your stove in a centralized area of the home so that it heats sufficiently.  The chimney needs to be placed within the envelope of the home (that is the space between the exterior wall and the interior wall.) opposed to an outside chimney.

Next safety. (safety first!)  Never leave the stove unattended with the loading door left open.   Say, you leave the loading door open, then get distracted (I know?! Right?), it appears the stove can actually reach temperatures exceeding what it was designed for and cause a house or chimney fire (like we all haven’t done this with cookies before?).

Seasoned wood is the wood of choice for a wood stove. 

Well these were just a few basics regarding wood burning stoves.  As always, do your homework to check out what will be best for you and your particular needs.

Oh, and I have found an alternative to sitting and watching the flames in my fireplace.  I’m learning to cook.  Did you know flames jumping out of a frying pan look just like the ones in the fireplace???

- Survivor Jane


Thank you for sharing Survivor Jane with your friends!  

If you have any questions, or would like to see a specific article addressing survival preparedness for women on SurvivorJane.com click here