How to Build a Fire

Before starting to build a fire, free the grate from ashes. To do this, put on covers, close front and back dampers, and open oven-damper; turn grate, and ashes will fall into the ash receiver. If these rules are not followed, ashes will fly over the room. Turn grate back into place, remove the covers over fire-box, and cover grate with pieces of paper (twisted in centre and left loose at the ends). Cover paper with small sticks, or pieces of pine wood, being sure that the wood reaches the ends of fire-box, and so arranged that it will admit air. Over pine wood arrange hard wood; then sprinkle with two shovelfuls of coal. Put on covers, open closed dampers, strike a match, — sufficient friction is formed to burn the phosphorus, this in turn lights the sulphur, and the sulphur the wood, — then apply the lighted match under the grate, and you have a fire.

Now blacken the stove. Begin at front of range, and work towards the back; as the iron heats, a good polish may be obtained. When the wood is thoroughly kindled, add more coal. A blue flame will soon appear, which is the gas (CO) in the coal burning to carbon deoxide (CO2), when the blue flame changes to a white flame; then the oven-damper should be closed. In a few moments the front damper may be nearly closed, leaving space to admit sufficient oxygen to feed the fire. It is sometimes forgotten that oxygen is necessary to keep a fire burning. As soon as the coal is well ignited, half close the chimney-damper, unless the draft be very poor.

Never allow the fire-box to be more than three-fourths filled. When full, the draft is checked, a larger amount of fuel is consumed, and much heat is lost. This is a point that should be impressed on the mind of the cook.
Ashes must be removed and sifted daily; pick over and save good coals, — which are known as cinders, — throwing out useless pieces, known as clinkers.
If a fire is used constantly during the day, replenish coal frequently, but in small quantities. If for any length of time the fire is not needed, open check, the dampers being closed; when again wanted for use, close check, open front damper, and with a poker rake out ashes from under fire, and wait for fire to burn brightly before adding new coal.
Coal when red hot has parted with most of its heat. Some refuse to believe this, and insist upon keeping dampers open until most of the heat has escaped into the chimney.
To keep a fire over night, remove the ashes from under the fire, put on enough coal to fill the box, close the dampers, and lift the back covers enough to admit air. This is better than lifting the covers over the fire-box, and prevents poisonous gases entering the room.

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