How (Not) to Start a Fire in a Wood Stove


I’m engaged in a battle with the wood stove. I want smoke coming out of here.
And it wants to watch The Bonnie Hunt Show and Inside Edition. It’s lazy. Or it likes other people better than me because it will only light for them.
I took lessons from its Favored One. I practiced under his tutelage. (I’m talking about 52.) And then I got cold and decided to do it myself! I am woman! Watch me make fire!

All by myself!

And so yesterday, all alone, I put on my battle gear and I said, “Wood stove, we are making fire today!”

The wood stove didn’t say anything back. Just in case you think I’m actually crazy.

I hear tell I’m supposed to clean this mess up before I get going.
I sorta kinda cleaned it up. No need to be picky. It’s dirty and I don’t like dirty stuff. Which is why I live on a farm and step in doo-doo all day long.

Anyway! First, I gotta put some crumpled up paper in there.
Then I lay in some kindling. And then some logs. And I arrange everything just like other people do when the wood stove performs magic tricks for them. I’m ready for fire!

Wait. THEN I make sure I know where the fire extinguisher is. Because I don’t really trust myself.
Then I get to make fire! This part is fun! I get to light stuff up!
It’s off to a good start. There are flames, see? I’ve got this thing nailed.
Okay, mostly that’s just paper. But it’s going to get there. I feel it. Me and the wood stove, we’re in sync now.

A fire needs air. So I’m supposed to pull out this knobby thing.
And I’m supposed to leave the stove door open a little bit.
I’m following directions. Why don’t I have more fire? I poke it, and it gets mad and flames up.
It gets going good, so I shut the door and turn on the blower. Time to bask in the warmth of my fire.
You know what this fire needs? More paper.
I know. I could fill up the ENTIRE STOVE with paper! I’d have a big fire then.
Or not.
It’s going to be a long, cold winter, isn’t it?


  1. IowaCowgirl says:

    Why am I up at this ungodly hour? I can’t stand Suzanne not being in the lead for Sam-e. This will turn around, I know it. I need to go to bed.

    Anyway, stove advise from me (heated with wood for 29 years and now supplement with fireplace insert): you are doing everything right but add about a gallon of very dry tinder, then pile of kindling. It looks like your logs are a bit large for taking off with ignition.

  2. Andrea says:

    You people better start voting!!!!! :hissyfit:

  3. Lynette says:

    I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to vote early today. WHAT!! Suzanne is not in the lead? What happened? Let’s get her back in the lead!!!

  4. Laura says:

    8) I just voted! I have been everyday and will continue to vote for you. I just shared it with all my facebook friends. Heading over to twitter now!

    WE MUST HAVE YOU WIN, SUZANNE! Come on, ladies……. :fairy: fly on over and VOTE!!!!!!


  5. Brenda S 'Okie in Colorado' says:

    Is your wood damp? Try using split wood and definitely need some kindling along with that paper. Good luck. Gotta practice and get it right, we can’t imagine the thought of a Suzannesicle.
    I’m voting as much as I can…

  6. Nita Arizona says:

    Hey, get out and VOTE!! Suzanne is falling behind. :bugeyed: :bugeyed:

  7. CindyP says:

    I never could start one myself!!!! When I was a teenager I babysat for people (they lived right next door) that had a woodstove. If the stove was out when we got home from school, we went to my house, that stove would just never light!!

    :happyfeet: VOTE :happyfeet: VOTE :happyfeet: VOTE :happyfeet:
    LET’S RALLY FOR SUZANNE!! At the moment she is only 50 points behind Susan,CA….. We can do it!!!!

  8. Hrist says:

    Yay, fire! I love the smell of wood smoke. We had a wood stove when I was growing up, hopefully some day I’ll have one again. We used to love throwing the chunks of snow from our hats and mittens on top and watch it sizzle.

  9. ataylor says:

    I feel your pain. It took me a whole winter before I could get a fire going on my own.

  10. Marla says:

    The fire may be out, but you’re hot, Suzanne! πŸ˜‰ I voted!!

  11. Barbara says:

    Hello Suzanne,

    Here I am up at 4 a.m. to vote for you. I am posting a link on Facebook. Gonna try anyhow and also on my blog. We must all do what we did during the first round to get you votes and back in the lead position.

  12. Sheila Z says:

    The picture shows way too little kindling to get a fire to even begin to warm the stove pipe up. A cold stovepipe won’t draw well at first and if it is a still day or really cold (like well below zero out) it won’t draw well and makes it harder to start a fire. Solution is more kindling. Make sure it is very dry (this is critical) to start with and split very finely. You can loosely pile bigger kindling on top, but right over the paper you need a bunch of fine kindling,like less than thumb sized in diameter. Oh, and if your house is really airtight it can help to crack an outside door and get some place for the air to draw from. To get a fire started you have to have a good air flow and you want to get the chimney/stove pipe to suck up the air fast to start the fire. A quick hot fire that will get the air flow going to start with then you can add the bigger chunks. Sorry if I’ve repeated myself, but that is all there is to getting a fire going. I heated only with wood in upstate NY for many decades so I know how simple it really is to get a fire going and keep it going. You are woman, make that fire roar! Or at least crackle.

  13. Barbie says:

    What happened? We need to get you in the lead!! Vote, people!!!

    About starting a woodstove fire, we have heated with wood for 36 years. It takes dry wood and patience. Start with small (very small) dry pieces, aka kindling, and paper. When this starts burning, add a few slightly larger pieces of wood. As these burn, you can place more wood on the fire. Now you are warm, but is the fire going yet? You are one smart cookie, Suzanne, you will get that fire going.

  14. Mary says:

    Sorry you couldn’t get the fire going, but the story made me laugh. Let’s get Voting.

  15. maryann says:

    I have to agree with the other, there wasn’t enough kindling. Think of the branches that were pruned off in the spring (like the sucker that grow straight up from main branches). Dried grape vines, pine cones, heck after a rain I was known to take a hatchet to a Duraflame log and create a kindling. Also a thing to try after you get a fire started is to take any fruit branches that you have pruned (keep these separate from the rest of the kindling bundle) and place them on a slow fire with the door open to let the aroma into the house. I so miss our woodburning stove!!!

  16. monica says:

    Make sure your wood is dry and not too green and small, no larger than you finger. After it is going for a few minutes, then you can add larger pieces and finally logs. I like to use twigs that fall from the trees in the yard–they are perfect size and we always have a nice supply. Pretty soon you’ll be smelling poupourri and sipping cocoa. :shimmy: :yes:

  17. Kathleen in Michigan says:

    I married into a family of firebugs so I have never had the opportunity to even think about starting a fire.
    Wish I could be helpful!

    • blossom says:

      I feel your frustration!!

      we use only the woodburner for heat and there is nothing worse than being unable to light it, especially when someone else breezes in and does it in 5 minutes.

      Like everyone else, i’d say kindling is the answer, i grab a bundle of little fallen dead twiggy bits every time i pass and then keep them in the porch ready, plus use small pieces of the dryest wood such as ash, or silver birch which seems to burn whatever.

      good luck!

  18. trish robichaud says:

    i wish i could offer some tips on fire building, i do know the newspaper should be twisted so that it burns longer.ok , im just guessing. i dont know where these california girls are getting thier votes, lets hope they are alot of one time voters. its only day three. we need a new plan of action. its not enough to do as we did before,we need to go out of our way to get more votes.we need a new members drive. talk to people in the stores, visit other blogs, church, anywhere you have to. suzanne needs this, she is here for us everyday. we need to show her the love. do i here an amen?

  19. C says:

    I came to vote this morning,and your post made me laugh out loud! I have the same fire trouble! My son, on the other hand (the woodsman), is honing his “bow fire” skills so he does not need matches!!! We’re all pulling for you, Suzanne! C

  20. Cathy J says:

    Voted and am posting the vote button on my FaceBook… and telling everyone I can about it!

  21. ElizaRed says:

    Patience… by Christmas, fire building will be mastered.
    Patience… our voting counts but the judges votes count more…keep the good mood attitude!!

  22. Melinda K. says:

    Was your son ever a Boy Scout? don’t they know how to start a fire?

  23. Tracey In Paradise Pa. says:

    :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy: VOTE!! VOTE!! VOTE!! VOTE!! VOTE!! GO SUZANNE GO!!
    Have a great weekend all!!
    Granny Trace

  24. Andrea says:

    Hard to believe it’s time to need the wood stove. I swear we were just planting tomatoes and eating fresh strawberries.

  25. Teresa says:

    I think you are in the lead, narrowly, but the lead nonetheless. I did my part and will continue to do so! Have a great day!

  26. Julie Curtis says:

    I feel your pain. At least you didn’t do like me and fill the house up with smoke. The first time I made a fire, the smoke came out into the the room instead of going up the chimney. Husband said I should have warmed up the chimney hole first so the smoke would go that way. Who knew? He left that part out of the tutorial. I think it’s a man thing. they want to be the only one that can get the fire going.

  27. NorthCountryGirl says:

    Good morning. The fire…you’ve got to get your base ( lots of kindling, small wood, paper) good and hot and, once that’s good and red hot, then add your larger wood. I wouldn’t pile it all in there at once but wait till some of the larger wood starts to burn. Kind of in steps…small, medium, large wood in steps). Make sure your larger wood is dry and seasoned. Then put the rest in once you see the fire is really going. I used to take care of a wood stove all day and starting it was always a chore. Just feed it a little at a time till it gets going then keep checking to make sure it has enough wood to stay that way. Good luck with the voting!

  28. Butterbean says:

    That was funny! I have trouble starting fires too!

  29. Mim says:

    I usually can get the fire started, it only has trouble when I want to add more wood.Maybe you could practice outside with your fire pit.
    Told the girls at work to get voting. :pawprint:

  30. S. says:

    Is there any way you could be talked into allowing us to click links to open in new windows or tabs? Right now, if we click any link, we either have to redirect completely away from your blog. If I try to right-click to open a new tab so that I can read the link later, I get a window asking me to please not steal your photos. Which is not at all what I’m trying to do! And unfortunately I never remember to go back and look for the links.

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      The popup window should tell you how to do that. There’s a control-shift option that opens a new tab. If you go ahead and right click, you should see those directions in the popup. Let me know if you don’t!

    • Suzanne McMinn says:

      Here are the instructions from the popup window in case you can’t see that: If you’re trying to open a link in a new tab, either set your browser options to open links in new tabs OR hold the SHIFT or CONTROL key down while you click on the link. (SHIFT will open to a new page. CONTROL will open to a new tab.)

  31. Heidi533 says:

    This gives me another craft idea for you. Fire starters. You can make them by dipping pine cones in paraffin wax or by putting dryer lint in the bottom of a paper cup and adding enough paraffin to hold it all together.

  32. Runningtrails says:

    I came to post and say “KINDLING!” but I see a lot of folks have already beat me to it. Its very important. I collect sticks all summer long and make a kindling pile near the house. Then I break them or saw them into stove size pieces and put them in boxes and store in a dry place (front porch, garage, shed). Cut wood scraps make good kindling too, provided it has no chemicals or paint. The bark that falls off the dry logs makes good kindling when broken into strips. Kekep a load of kindling near the wood stove to make sure it is good and dry when you get ready to use it. You can eventually start a fire with just paper but you will be adding it forever and it makes a tremendous amount of ash to clean up. I wait until the kindling is burning well before putting the logs on.

    Don’t underestimate the power of heavy corregatred cardboard either. It goes on top of the paper, under the kindling.

    An occasional squirt of BBQ lighter fluid helps too. I sometimes drip some on the big logs before I add them, if they might be a bit damp.

    Also, a few hard blows from the lungs onto the red coals can often rekindle a fire that is being stubborn.

    A dry piece of kindling or cardboard on top of the logs will help to pull the fire up through them and get them burning. Don’t put paper on top or it will float up the chimney while burning.

    Enough dry kindling is important!

  33. carol says:

    This ‘Woodstove-Suzanne’thing is beginning to sound like a ‘Clover-Suzanne-let-me-touch-your-udder’thing. You could be in for a loooonnnggggg winter! My one and only experience with a wood stove was in dead of winter in Missouri on the farm we lived on. I was twelve…woodstove was the only heat source in our little house….Mama was in St Louis for the day. She had banked the fire to last until I got home from school but I played around in the barn. Fire went cold. I tried to start it…just the same way you did and with equally dismal results. Mama came home about 8pm to find her daughter on the couch with EVERY quilt in the house over her.
    Maybe a cookie or twelve would help. Kinda sorta worked with Clover.
    Good luck, Suzanne.

  34. Jennifer Millett says:

    I’m so glad to see you are in the lead again!!! I have the same problem with our fireplace. Cannot get one going by myself (except if I cheat and use one of those Duraflame things). Hubs can get one going great. Then if he has to leave for any reason, I can’t keep it going. I do everything he tells me to and it mocks me.

  35. Stacy says:

    I am so afraid of fire, I could NEVER use a wood stove. And you’re still in the lead!

  36. Renita says:

    Here in MT fire is our primary source of heat. I still struggle. When it is cold, the stove begins with smoking up the whole house. You can’t just close the door, smoke boils out the sides and bottom. That’s why we have 42’s and 52’s!

  37. Judy@daily yarns says:

    I am so not a good fire starter. I can get one going but it takes me awhile. I voted again and I’m going to post it on my side bar for you. Good Luck!

  38. Nita in SC says:

    I think that, deep down, you know the answer to this one:

    Wood Stove has been talking to Clover.

  39. ShadowWoods says:

    Suzanne, You need to first start your fire base with small, dry kindling – pine/wooden sticks, pine needles, cones, etc. placed on top of your paper before adding large wood. Then, once this gets going, add some bigger pieces of kindling. Add your primo log (oak) after this all takes off and looks established. If you add too much big wood, too soon, you’ll smother the fire. You can also add some kindling on top to keep the fire pulling up and over your logs. As others have mentioned, make sure your wood is seasoned and dry, meaning not green and not wet. Finally, a good tip is to “bank the fire/coals” when you don’t need the fire. When you bank a fire, you rake the hot coals in a pile and cover with ash. You can uncover them at a later point and they should be still glowing hot, ready to help start another fire. For more tips on wood burning stoves and firewood, check out my post at
    Stay warm!

  40. Kelleh says:

    Curious, does your wood stove have a damper at all? If so, was the damper open enough to create that suction and flow of air from the crack in the front, up through the chimney pipe?

    That’s the open reason I can think it might not have started properly. :-/

  41. Chic says:

    Good Morning! First off I just wanted to say that I got my vote in and I know my hubby got his in too…now I just need to check on my family to see if they voted.

    Second..I used a wood stove for my primary heating for over 30 years up in the Canadian mountains. The first thing I’d do is get rid of that grate! It holds the fire up too high and if you load your wood right you can get air right to the heart of the fire. If you start with a couple of medium sized pieces of wood laid at a slight angle with a bit of space in between and then put your paper in there (stick it out one end). NOW..put several smaller and DRY pieces of kindling on at an opposite slight angle and then a few larger ones on top again at a slight angle the other way. This will get some air to the center but the wood is close enough that it shouldn’t go out. It may take you a few tries but as long as your wood is completely dry and your kindling is small you should have no trouble. I don’t clean my stove every time I go to use it…I let the ashes build up a bit so that in the mornings all I have to do is through a few pieces of wood in the stove and away it goes. I usually go about 3 days without cleaning the ashes out depending on how steady I’ve kept the fire going. Like someone else said..cracking a window open a bit will help with your draft and also if you put a piece of paper on the top of your wood and light it before you actually start your fire…it get’s heat going up your chimney and starts the air flow for the smoke so it doesn’t come into your room. Have fun and good luck! :hungry2: (pitchfork!)

  42. Debnfla3 says:

    I wouldn’t even know how to stack the wood to start a fire! I love the wood stove and would love to have one of my own.
    So kindling is the ticket huh? Is kindling the same as what I call fat lighter?


  43. wkf says:

    I use cereal boxes , pinecones and little sticks (kindling). I too suffer at the doors of our woodstove.But,I am getting better, so there is hope for you. I cast my vote for today! Good luck Suzanne!

  44. Hannah says:

    The doesn’t like you! :devil2: (Where’d all the kitty gravatars go!? :help: )

  45. Hannah says:

    Oops! Meant to say the FIRE doesn’t like you! :devil2:

  46. Lish says:

    Dry pine cones are GREAT kindling (and free). I agree with everyone else… more kindling. Too much paper. And if you use sticks are splits pieces of wood, tear ’em up a bit. Make them all spindly. You have to keep the heat on the kindling long enough to ignite the logs and paper just won’t do that. It’s just to keep the kindling going for a bit.

    I’m glad to see you’re back in the lead for a bit, but we have to remember that the California people are 3 hours behind and therefore work 3 hours longer than we do. I was ill when I went to bed last night worrying!! Hahahaha

    Let’s show Suzanne some love today people!!! :sheep:

  47. Brenda says:

    I got caught computer hopping at work yesterday to vote for you. I remind these people every day but you know men, sometimes they forget so I just do it for them. We really need to kick up the voting people~someone from Ca. is trailing close behind… Can’t let that happen! :shimmy:

  48. KATIA CRISTINA says:

    katia cristina

  49. JOJO says:


    I used to have the same problem with our fireplace, I bought a little bellows and it really did help. I nearly passed out blowing on the thing!!

  50. Amy says:

    mmm i love a woodstove! but I am a non fire builder too…

    Good luck!

  51. Beth Brown says:

    I see you’ve already received really good suggestions! When we were camping in New Hampshire this summer, the campground sold this homemade firestart that was in a little paper cup (the kind that holds ketchup at mcDs) and you just lit it and voila! I tried searching for how to make these and found a number of ‘recipes’ for stuff made from dryer lint, pinecones, sawdust, etc. Sometimes I don’t have trouble starting the woodstove, and other times I can’t get started for anything! Which is unfortunate because it is how we stay warm!

    Beth Brown aka oneoldgoat

  52. Ms E says:

    It’s all about the kindling and the draw! You’ll get there, just keep trying.

  53. Ms E says:

    Oh my – that vote is TOOOO close for comfort, folks please network the vote for Suzanne!!

  54. Leah says:

    I know what’s wrong with the fireplace. 52 rigged it so you would NEED him to light it for you!! :snuggle: Off to vote,vote! :sheepjump:

  55. Claudia says:

    Keep trying… you’ll get it!

  56. Twigs says:

    As other said, more kindling. Don’t put on your larger pieces of wood until that is burning well. One craft project you’d like would be firestarters…wax, sawdust, etc. I’m sure there is a recipe online somewhere. Nice gifts and handy for you. πŸ™‚

  57. Lish says:

    Is it bad that I’m, quoting Al Capone in my emails now?? “Vote early… vote often!” ?????????

    Oh my. :devil:

  58. Jo says:

    I voted but I only have access to one computer!!! :hissyfit: And I’m going to be out-of-town this weekend! :hissyfit: :hissyfit:

    Maybe I’ll visit a coffeeshop and ask to borrow someones laptop…. :help:

    Shoot! I’m not that brave! :hissyfit:

  59. Crystal B. says:

    I would not have any luck starting a fire. I voted for you again today. πŸ™‚

  60. Celia says:

    I agree, more kindling! πŸ˜€ Just voted on both computers and getting ready to call my son’s office to see how many computers there…I, too, don’t like how close it is. πŸ˜₯

  61. stefinity says:

    My husband says your wood is not seasoned enough … that means “dry” enough I think! He says it needs to be cut like LAST year or in the spring for it to be good for burning now. He told me to tell you that! Voted!!!!!!!

  62. Euni Moore says:

    O my. I couldn’t start a fire either. DH and sons had no trouble-they just looked at the kindling and paper, struck one little tiny match and voila! we had fire. I used the same technique but the final result was like yours – had to use the matches to keep me warm!

    Voted 20 minutes ago (twice)and you were in the lead by about 100 votes. Going back to facebook and “poke” everyone to get them started for the day by voting first thing.

    Keep trying with the woodstove, you’ll master it soon. I have faith in your abilitites. :hug:

  63. Tammy says:

    My only source of heat is the woodstove, so I have to get it started–but it’s often a challange, thats for sure! After 20+ years of building fires, I still have days when it’s tough. What made my life easier is when I discovered fire starter sticks. They come in a box for about $15.00 and you can make them last most of the winter. I break them in multiple pieces, put my newspaper down, the piece of starter stick, more newspaper, then a good pile of kindling (Mostly little branches–deadwood is the best–or other bits and pieces of wood debris that I find and then keep in a dry place). On top of all that I put the smallest piece of wood I can find. Once all that is burning well and the piece of wood has caught fire, I will add more wood. Really though, the fire starter sticks make all the difference. Hope that helps.

  64. pam from ohio says:

    Ok…back in the lead by 600 votes. Not enough for comfort, though! California’s just now waking up!

  65. Celia says:

    Seems I heard stressful giddiness throughout your post today,Suzanne. Seems I know you so well after reading every single day for a year, lol! Try not to worry, sweetie, I’ve just emailed the link to my son’s office of about 7 computers and am going to repost on FB and Twitter along with sending the link to all my email contacts. I hope everyone will do this so we can get this count way above the second place contestant (where it SHOULD be!)… :happyfeet:

    • JOJO says:

      I have set my lad top up in the kitchen–I am now checking the voting nearly every half hour!! I have emailed everyone on my email address asking for votes–I am thinking of going to Krogers and standing out side with a sign with CITR web site posted on it–or maybe–“will work for votes”
      Thank God I am through menopause–this stress would throw me right into it big time!!!

  66. Nancy says:

    oh I feel your pain! I finally found a good way to start a fire with home made fire starters. Stuff cardboard egg cartons with dryer lint and pour melted candle wax (all those stubs are good for this) over the top (be sure to line your counter with waxed paper). As the wax just starts to harden stick a wick in the middle and let them set. When you need one just break it apart from the rest of the carton…instant flame starter! I love them for camping too.

  67. Lynn says:

    The theme here is kindling and that is the key, but, sometimes you just don’t have enough of it! And a couple of years ago I started being very leery of picking up little twigs in the woods because I read that if poison ivy has been growing on the wood, and then you burn it, you’ll get that awful oil in the air you are breathing! I started being selective about where I gathered deadwood. That made the hunt for kindling even harder. As suggested, there are recipes online for making your own firestarter. We actually purchase ours (it is pricey) from Sams. It comes in bars that are sort of sticky and you can just tear off a bit and use it to expand the kindling. It is very handy to have around; just a little of it does the job. I used to use milk cartons, too. The wax in them burns hot; but they are rather conspicuous (not aesthetic) to keep around for starting fires; my hub didn’t like them piled by the stove. And you have to rinse them first so that your den doesn’t smell like sour milk. I voted!

  68. Bonnie Schmidt says:

    There is a big secret to keeping a fire going. You really don’t need wood at all. It took me years to figure this out. You need truckloads of PAPER! Soon, you will be driving around and begging/stealing piles of old newspapers. This is what really makes a fire FLAME! The wood is just in there for show. Trust me.

  69. Jenny says:

    This is why I won’t consider a woodstove for heat. We had one while I was growing up (and my parents still have one). I had a fantastic knack for putting the fire out. I also babysat for two families with them and would always wind up freezing by the evening’s end because I just couldn’t keep the fire going. I must be lacking some pyromaniac gene or something. Hope you get yours figured out sooner rather than later!

  70. susan says:

    Okay about that fire-paper, then kindling, then a piece of dead wood, then the green wood. The seasoned or dead wood will catch from the paper and kindling and then it will burn long enough to catch the green wood. We used a wood stove for years. I became, over time, a master fire starter. We tried to burn seasoned wood on really cold days, because they will burn hotter because they burn faster, we would stock the stove with green wood for the night because it burns slower, that way we would still have a fire the next morning. Nothing worse than getting up to a freezing house and no fire. Good Luck with your fire.

  71. Cousin Sheryl says:

    Suzanne, you are in good company! After a lifetime of living with fireplaces and woodstoves, I too am totally FIRE-Clueless. Our wood stove hates me. I cannot make fire at all. Mark just laughs at me. He is also one of those men described above that just strikes on little match and the stove burns for 12 hours! (I knew there was a reason we kept these men around. That must be why. They can light our fires, can’t they?? :devil2: πŸ˜† πŸ˜‰ )

    There are certainly plenty of pine cones over here at The Old Farmhouse. You could use some of that “ugly wax” that Mark gave you to make some fire starters. Just pour an inch of melted wax in the bottom of each muffin pan cup and then stand a dry pine cone in the wax and let it harden. You can spray the muffin cups with vegetable oil spray for easy removal or use paper muffin liners. A pretty basket of these firestarters makes a nice Christmas, Housewarming or Hostess gift for someone, too.

    I voted at work and at home. I think the SAM-E people will appreciate all of the interest you are generating. :happyflower:

    Let’s keep working for Suzanne, folks! She’s the best! :snoopy:

    Have a great day!

  72. Abiga/Karen says:

    Just going to go vote now, then check on our chickens outside and the goats etc. We also lost our rooster this past week. He was a good guy though and never threatened us. The grandkids could pick him up. He watched the hens so well so now they do not have their protector. So sad! No body has been found. Might have been a raccon as they like to come out in the pouring rain when humans are not around. Blessings to you all.

  73. Carol in WI says:

    I can’t even start a charcoal grill with Matchlight briquets!!! So I feel your pain!! :hissyfit:

  74. cgReno says:

    It has always amazed me that someone can burn down an entire house with a single candle and i can have a problem getting my wood stove going with an entire Sunday newspaper. As stated by other readers.. kindling is the secret!

  75. Cyndy Buiniskis says:

    Ahh, the memories! My first house after I was a single mom had a wood furnace. Not a lovely airtight wood stove, but a behemoth in the basement that went thru wood like a kid thru candy! That was a looooong couple of winters! I always had to get up several times in the night to feed it, worse than my daughter when she was an infant, LOL!

    I have never burned wood since selling that house. DH makes comments every winter about getting a woodstove to supplement and I just tell him, “it’s your baby, don’t ask me to get up in the middle of the night. Had my turn when I was young enough to handle it, haha!” Oh but I DO love a wood fire…how to reconcile the romantic to the practical (or maybe the lazy?!)

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane! I don’t feel qualified to offer suggestions but it looks like you’ve had lots of good ones already. I have no doubt you will succeed in this venture also, Suzanne! Look at the things you’ve already accomplished in your new life! Be patient with yourself and Mr. Woodstove, I’m betting you be very good friends real soon.

    We’re heading home to PA in the morning, yippee! Thanksgiving with our families! If the economy was better I’d quit my job and go home to stay, but it’s just not to be right now. So we’ll enjoy the time we have to visit & be thankful for it. Sorry, I digressed there….I only meant to mention it because I don’t have a laptop & won’t be able to vote for a few days. πŸ™ Plan to use my brother’s computer when we get there tho!

  76. Robin says:

    Around here (Nashville), there are companies that give away their “scrap” wood and that makes great kindling. When I was a kid, my grandpa used to bring home truck loads of discarded hickory handles and those burned great. My only tip for fire starting would be to not pack your kindling in too densely. I used to make a little teepee over the paper so the air could circulate and draw.

  77. JOJO says:

    :woof: I JUST TURNED IT TO 5700


  78. Senta Sandberg says:

    My problem is getting my giant 14year old to chop me some kindling. The trick is kindling and their is a trick to chopping it. I can’t do it. Grrrr. Then I am more Grrrr when I am trying to cause what did I have a Giant 14 year old for anyway. I have changed my kids names thought. The Giant is Get Wood and the little one is Now.

  79. auntbear says:

    …maybe a cookie offering to the stove? :no:

  80. Nancy in Iowa says:

    Boy, am I glad I didn’t look at Sam-e when you dropped from the lead -I would have been depressed all day. By the time I voted, though, you’d pulled way out in front! Way to go! Even if you can’t get your wood stove to cooperate with you! :snoopy: :snoopy: :snoopy:

  81. Tara says:

    Not to beat a dead horse here, but I agree – not NEARLY enough kindling. You want A LOT. Also, I like to get just the kindling burning really well before I add logs, and then I’ll start will smaller ones and gradually move up to bigger ones. Best of luck – you’ll get it down!

  82. Lynn says:

    I’m glad that I didn’t see it either, races make me panic (unless I’m clearly in the front!)

    Okay folks we need a much bigger lead! Tell your friends, tell your family, you can even tell your enemies…..we need them to vote!

  83. trish says:

    Im 5,789. Just voted. Will go upstairs shortly and vote on my desktop. I couldn’t make fire if my life depended on it. It’s like anything in life, keep trying…’ll get it.

    Made me smile and I needed that today.

  84. Mariah says:

    I used to have the same problem every time I tried to build a fire in the fireplace. Our current home has a gas fireplace with a remote. One push of the button and instant fire. Another push and it’s turned off. Sounds nice, but I don’t really like it. Something is lost in the satisfaction factor though. I’d rather fight for it!

  85. Dessa says:

    I can’t light a fire either!!! My hubs can do it, my daughter can do it…heck if I would let him I bet my 9 year old could do it…but I CANNOT!! :hissyfit:

  86. Patty says:

    No worries! You’ll figure out that woodstove and you’ll be sitting there enjoying the warmth, while writing your articles for the Good Mood Gig, since you WILL be getting the job!!!

  87. Chantal says:

    I know your to do list is long however…. it would be nice to be able to search you site.

  88. heidiannie says:

    You people must really want those calendars! LOL!
    Seriously, Suzanne- I understand your fire problems. I use LOTS of kindling and Lots of paper, and then I pray, real hard.

  89. Linda in San Diego says:

    :sun: And this is why you deserve the PAYING blogging job! You can take something like a wood stove and give it a personality! Good luck in your battle with that stove!

  90. linda says:

    wood stoves are nice unless they are your only form of heat waking up in a house where you can see your own breath because the stove has went out during the night i am so glad those days are over

  91. Catalina says:

    Ha ha!
    Funny story!
    I grew up with a wood stove as our only heat source.
    You kind of get a feeling for the fire and can see when it needs more air.
    And lots of practice. Loooooooots of practice.
    Oh, yeah and move slowly and gently…sneak up on the fire.

  92. geena says:

    do a fire dance lol :dancingmonster:

  93. Michele Mom of 8 says:

    Calendar entry. I voted today! WTG for being in the lead!!!

  94. Darlene in North Georgia says:

    One thing to add to the fire conversation. It takes 3 things to get and keep a fire going. If one of the 3 things is missing the fire will go out.
    1. Fuel sized from tinder to kindling to logs
    2. Oxygen
    3. Heat source

    So fuel is the wood/paper/whatever ya got that burns. Tinder is stuff that is wispy. Think hay, paper, or any TINY pieces of wood, no bigger than a blade of grass. Kindling is small stuff, no bigger than a pencil is wide. Twigs, tiny split lengths of wood, pine cones, etc. Logs are chunks of wood, split or not that will fit into the fire box. Use a variety of sizes from thumb-thickness on up to as big as will fit inside and still let the door close. Check.

    Heat Source – matches, lighter, flame thrower, etc. Check.

    Oxygen is leaving the door and draft open (check)AND not packing too much fuel too close together! There HAS to be some space between the layers in order for air to circulate and the flames to get through to the next layer. It doesn’t take a LOT of room, but about 1/8″ between pieces of wood is good. If you have a solid layer of kindling, it can’t get to the next layer to light it. This is one time where you don’t want to be too neat. It should look like a pile of pickup sticks. That lets the air in between and around all the wood. See, the match lights the paper, the paper lights the tinder, the tinder lights the kindling, the kindling lights the logs (or coal!) and the old woman gets home tonight. (Reminds me of an old nursery rhyme!lol)

    So don’t pack the paper in, use a lot of tinder, but fan or feather it out a bit, use a lot of kindling, but again, fan or feather it out so there’s some airspace between it. THEN the logs with space between them – until the fire is going. Even the, don’t overload the box with wood or you’ll smother it and the fire will go out.
    Oh, and the smaller the wood, the less space is needed between it when you place it.

    Another help would be this video:
    Notice how he’s left spaces between his kindling and how he made sort of a square out of his wood pieces and then laid the wood across each section. If you need to study the layout of his fire, hit the pause button to get a good look at how it is set up. Also watch several times how he adds the wood at the end. He’s still doing the cross thingy where one layer is laid one way and the next layer is crossed over it. Again, hit pause or replay the section you want to look at.

    Here’s a two part video showing how to start a fire. Notice how he leaves the stove open just a CRACK. I mean, it’s barely open at all.

    Tips on using the wood stove:

    Hope this helps.

  95. Michele Mom of 8 says:

    Too much big wood all at once. My 13yo FireMaster always scolds me for not giving the little flames time to breathe before I crush them. I’m always finding half-charred cold logs in our wood stove when I build the fire, but he can recreate the Fires of Mordor every time.

    I make my own firestarters that work pretty well. We cut and split our own wood, so there is plenty of sawdust outside. I let it dry, put a bit of it (with some broken-up dryer lint) in each well of an egg carton, then pour melted candle wax into each well and stir it up a little bit (a great way to use up the last bit in those candle jars). When the wax dries, you have a flammable little nugget that burns surprisingly long.

    I start with kindling, move to finger-size twigs, and when I put the wrist-size stuff on, I put a firestarter on top to “encourage” it to keep burning. Works for me.

    Hope that helps.

    Not that you asked.

    Have a great day!

  96. Runningtrails says:

    Cut up pallets make great kindling. I bring them home by the truckfull when I find them and cut them up with the saw, if I odn’t need them for something else.

  97. EightPondFarm says:

    I voted early this am while Suzanne was trailing. I guess we will have to get used to having the West Coast people surge during the night given the time zone differences. Good job getting ahead of the game!! I am inspired to build a fire today, too. Thanks.

  98. Gayle says:

    You ARE woman and you can do it. Ahhhhhh, the grand smell of a wood fire.

  99. Helen says:

    I couldn’t bring myself to read through all the posts, so this might be redundant, but to help you get your fires going, get yourself some fatwood…Walmart sells it for about $10.00 for 5lbs. Just follow the directions on the box…its all natural and works great. I also concur with the poster who said that your wood looks too big to ignite right off. Try chopping some smaller stuff…bigger than kindling but smaller than what you show in the pics. And don’t close the stove door too soon…it really takes awhile for a fire to get going well.

    p.s. Did they tell you to heat the flue first? In case they didn’t, what you do is make a quill or brand out of a piece of newspaper, light it and use it to warm the flue where it connects to the inside of the stove. That will help get the draft going that feeds the fire. Another trick is to open a door or window to help get a draft going, because especially you live in the hills, there can be pressure inversions where the air pressure is lower in the house than it is outside. By opening a door or window, you equalize the air pressure and again, that helps get the stove draft properly.

  100. Minna says:

    I just voted! :snoopy:

  101. J says:

    I’m getting ready to make a sourdough starter pot. That’s what I posted on about today. So who better than Suzanne to guide anyone thru the process? I’ve gottcha linked up for your sourdough page, the link to home page, link ‘to vote’ page and the vote button on the sidebar.
    I don’t have much traffic but I hope maybe it will help some.
    You’ve got a great blog that not only entertains but helps people with guidance, support and inspiration. :hug:

  102. quietstorm says:

    read my daughter the riot act this morning before she left for school…told her to get her friends (and vote on every computer they could get their hands on at school & to pass the word

  103. Betty says:

    Enjoyed reading all the posts on starting the wood stove….maybe I can get mine started now. O.K. tomorrows post we want to see you starting your fire successfully. You mean someone had more votes than you?? I can not believe it!! Am gone to round up more people to vote!! P.S. made your pepperoni rolls yesterday and they turned out so great!!! thank-you again for the great recipes!!

  104. Amy Cook in WI says:

    I learned how to make a fire in Girl Scouts about 40 years ago. It was empowering. Then I never built a fire again until I bought a charcoal grill. I use a chimney and its great. No mess. I don’t have a fireplace or a wood stove. Hmmm. I think I have room for one, though!

  105. Flatlander says:

    Trow that newspaper out..get fire starters (bought or homemade) in.
    The paper doesn’t burn long enough to get your wood on fire.
    More little wood sticks to start and built up slow with large logs.
    The large logs are good when the fireplace it HOT.

    Good luck..

  106. YayaOrchid says:

    Suzanne, I just know you’ll win. We’re all rooting for you!

  107. Jennifer Robin says:

    Ditto #41 Chic. Loose the grate! It’s tempting to use because it seems like it gets air to the fire faster, but guess what? That becomes a problem in itself, because your wood burns too fast, and when you need to bank your fire for the night… well, you can’t with a grate. I have found the most useful information around to be on a couple of wood stove forums (just google for them); things like how to best load the wood in your stove, and what to use for starters (easily homemade and they negate the need for kindling altogether.) I’ve been burning for wood heat for years, and have never, ever had to use paper or kindling, and for the record, I start a quicker, hotter fire than my husband!

  108. TXLady says:

    You’ll get the hang of it…I agree that you need some kindling…It will ignite faster than those logs you have. My husband makes a bunch of fire starters every year to use in the fire place and they work so good.

    Suzanne, I challenge you to make fire starters….

    I husband voted .and got a note from one of the kids that she voted..I’m doing my best for you Suzanne..

  109. J says:

    For some reason the link to my blog doesn’t work in my comment 101.

  110. J says:

    snort… just shoot me… now
    Ignore any link and just click on J that has the tortie cat’s face
    **sighhhh** I screw things up royally sometimes :shocked: πŸ˜₯ πŸ˜•

  111. Chic says:

    LOL #107….this is #41 Chic…I’m the fire starter in this house too. The hubby never used wood stoves like I did before moving down here so I start the fires and keep them going…plus I don’t make the mess he does or make the house smokey!!!

  112. Michele says:

    More kindling, dry wood. Once it gets going you should be able to keep it going. I am also voting for you everyday! :butterfly:

  113. Miss Becky says:

    Suzanne, it takes more than newspaper and logs to build a fire. First of all, try not to let the coals go out. If they do, then use kindling and newspaper and put the logs on top of that. Without kindling the newspaper will simply burn up and leave you with those logs. Small pieces of wood are a necessity. And, you do need a bed of ashes but keep it pretty clean, otherwise the fire will be smothered with all of those ashes. You will get it, it simply takes practice. When you are cold you will make a perfect fire. You aren’t cold enough yet… :hug:

  114. Barbee' says:

    I don’t know how in the world the Native Americans made fire without newspaper!

  115. Susan M. says:

    Yeah Suzanne, as of now you are ROCKING the vote!!!

    (my husband has fireplace duties, so I don’t have to…)

    Have a great evening!
    (your late-in-the-day voter)

  116. Janelle says:

    My stove does not have the rack in it and I don’t have any problems, maybe the wood likes to be closer to fire. I’m voting everyday too!

  117. Janelle says:

    Also, the lint from the dryer is the best thing I have found to start fires!

  118. Sandra says:

    Thanks for being transparent enough to tell us you can’t get the fire thing going. That sure left you open for all kinds of advice. I hope you get the skill learned quickly because you are too sweet to be cold this winter.

  119. Estella says:

    I just voted.
    Wood heat is awesome–I have had it for over 60 years.
    Kindling and some smaller wood before the logs works great.

  120. Stephanie says:

    We just have a small fireplace right now, but hope to heat entirely with wood someday….The best fire starters are made by putting dryer lint into cardboard eggs cartons and then filling with hot wax. Let them set, and they are fabulous. They burn long and slow and will start split logs without kindling.

    this post has the how to…

  121. Jan says:

    I’m not an expert on starting fires but you may need to be careful burning pine or pinecones because of the tar in them. It’ll coat the pipes. Or so I have been told. I VOTED!

  122. Yvonne M. says:

    Come on people…ROCK THE VOTE FOR SUZANNE! This is too close for comfort. VOTE, VOTE, VOTE….WIN, WIN, WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  123. Sharon Gosney says:

    try using kindling with smaller junks of wood to get a good base going, than add more wood. There’s nothing like a wood stove….all my house pets would curl up by the stove. Good Luck with fire and votes.

  124. Box Call says:

    Light a piece of paper and put it up near the pipe, that will heat the air and then light the paper under the wood. Works every time if your kindling is not damp. Hey when I voted you were ahead….FYI I vote once at work and once at home…..

  125. lishusm says:

    UGH Brigitte is now within 100 votes????????????? I’m dyin’ here people!!! Please tell me the contest ends early EASTERN time on the 7th???

  126. Myrna Mackenzie says:

    Suzanne, I wish I still had my Orange County RWA membership. I’ve already sent an appeal to my local RWA chapter asking them to help a fellow writer. I’ve posted on Facebook and Twitter. Really, this was a fantastic post today (amusing and personal and something a lot of people can relate to). Maybe more giant puppy or cute kitten pictures during the next few days (I try to find something about your day’s blog that I can Twitter about, as in “is this the cutest photo of a kitten you’ve ever seen?” Anything to entice newbies to your blog). Wish I was one of those folks who seem to know a million people…

  127. pamb says:

    I don’t have time to read all the great comments, so if I repeat, I’m sorry!

    My husband found an article online a year or two ago about building your fire upside down & that’s how we do it most of the time now.

    Moderate-sized log(s) at the bottom. On top of that we put a mix of sticks, paper, and cardboard. (We don’t put paper alone on top because the burning paper will float and suck up into the flue. So we mix the paper in with the sticks and cardboard.) Once it’s burning well and you start having a few red coals, add middle-size stuff. Once it’s burned partway and you have more coals, add the big stuff.

    But whether you build up or down, as others said early on (and probably later where I haven’t read :wave: ), KINDLING! Lots of kindling, get the stove hot, then add the bigger logs.

    I’m assuming you had the drafts open. Our stove has two, a lever at the bottom of the stove and another one that controls the damper to the flue.

    You’ll get it! You’ve learned everything else you’ve set your mind to, you’ll get this. :yes:

  128. Patty says:

    MUST STOP WATCHING THE VOTE!!! Aghhhh!! Okay, question, is there any way to see the “essay” that Suzanne wrote? All I can find on their site is the answers to few questions under her bio.

  129. Anita says:

    What all of them said. Kindling is the key, and if you can open an outside door a little bit until the stove gets going, so much the better. Also, once it gets really cold outside the stove will draw better.

  130. Amy says:

    You’re still in the lead at 6282 but it’s under 100, soo close, ugh.

    I was born and raised and still stuck here in Florida, so I haven’t a clue how to start a fire. We avoid the heat down here. :sun:

    I’m going to turn on my other computers and see if I can vote from there.

  131. Amy says:

    Well, I got in 3 more, but she’s closing in, about 68 votes behind now. Need some more people with extra computers. Hurry! :snoopy:

  132. Kathleen H from Indiana says:

    Yikes….I just voted – everyone remember weekend need votes. That count is too close! Never seen so many tricks to start a fire!!!! Have a great weekend. :wave:

  133. debbie says:

    When my folks built a fire in the fireplace, I remember them “warming the flue”. They’d build their pile of kindling and paper in the grate, open the damper and then twist a big ol’ cone of newspaper up, light it on fire and hold it up the flue for a few seconds. Why? I don’t know, that’s just how it was done. Oh, and you have to be ready to drop the flaming paper into the pile of kindling and jump back quick. It was pretty fun to watch.

  134. Kirsten Lowe says:

    We just got our wood stove last year. I had the same troublr until I found the magic of Fat Wood! Now I am a fire master, and hubby does not have to fix my fires!

  135. Catherine says:

    Not to be a wet blanket, Suzanne, and I’m sure you already know this, but when dealing with fire or power tools be sure to tie your hair back. I’m a wood turner and have had some close calls at the lathe…

    Wonderful to see all the support you’re getting — to paraphrase Sally Field, we love you! right now, we love you!

  136. wvhomecanner says:


    Brigitte is ahead of Suzanne by 8!
    We can’t have that!

    :woof: :woof: :woof: :woof: :woof: :woof: :woof: :woof:


  137. AsTheNight says:

    If you can get a fire started (and you did) but then it goes out, either your wood is wet (or green) or you’re not giving your fire enough air.

    I build a great fire…too bad I’ve developed some kind of allergy or something to burning wood. Lots of people near me heat their homes with wood and I’ll tell ya, it’s making me really sick. πŸ™

    Voted again today: 6359 votes. Good luck!

  138. sidneysmom38 says:

    I enjoyed your post about the stove. You turned what must have been a very frustrating event into a very entertaining story. I voted twice today (you can if you do it from different computers). I found your blog some months go looking for bread recipes and recently found it again.. I look forward to reading future posts.
    Thank You. Alice.

  139. meg sorrell says:

    Pine cones work great, and I voted. Let’s get Suzanne back in the lead — vote and get your friends to vote!

  140. Melinda in Washington State says:

    I can never start a fire either. Good thing you had the fire extinguisher handy.

  141. kd says:

    OK, I’m crazy, too, but the third pic from the bottom…there’s “52”! Yes, I know the 5 is upside down. Now that everyone’s convinced I’m totally whacked…I’m off to bed!

  142. NorthCountryGirl says:

    Suzanne, the Terms of the Contest state the Phase 2 voting only counts 20% toward the final decision and the judges consideration of your qualifications, etc. counts 80%. So even though someone may have more votes, they may not necessarily win. Also, this caught my eye: Under the ABILITIES heading, it stated that testimonials from family and friends concerning your ability to handle this job would be considered. Is it possible we could also email Sam-E with our testimonials about your ability keeping this newsletter and blog going faithfully everyday? Is there an address we could send them to? Between votes AND testimonials flowing in, you would definitely have and edge. What do you think?

  143. IowaCowgirl says:

    I read these in the same context as NorthCountryGirl and like he thought we needed Suzanne’s permission to do the testimonial thing. Well, Suzanne??? We promise not to say anything negative about the competition.

  144. julie says:



    (Yes, I am yelling.)

  145. Jodie says:

    I wish that I had a woodstove! I love the smell of burning wood. Probably not good for my azthema though.

  146. shannon says:

    Here’s a girl scout trick for starting fires. Wrap a couple of old birthday candles or a taper candlestick end in wax paper, twisting the ends like a tootsie roll. Put about two of them in with your kindling. They burn longer than the paper and helps to start the logs. We use paper and candle twists whenever we make any type of fire.

  147. catslady says:

    It’s an easy way to get rid of junk mail :shocked:

  148. chickypez says:

    That sounds like what happens to me when I try to light a fire! Then I always end up having to get up every 5 or 10 minutes to try to get it going again. So frustrating!

  149. SuzieQ says:

    Ditto “get rid of the grate”..I use only wood for heating and nothing is better than coming in and warming up by the woodstove. If you have a good bed of coals you can load up the stove at night, shut the air intake down (but not completely) and you will still have heat through the night and in the morning all you have to do is throw in some larger wood on the coals and get it some air and away you go for the day. I’ve heated exclusively with wood for many years and NOTHING warms you up so quickly. :heart: :heart:

  150. Kris says:

    I confess I gave up on the paper method a few years ago and succumbed to using Quickstarts – those itsy bitsy prestolog-like things. I think that makes me less of a man, but really is that a bad thing? Minimal kindling and I have a snapping fire 20 minutes later. Ahhhhhhhh. . .

  151. esme says:

    :duck: this is a awesome post!!!!! I can never start fires either!!! even though i am only 12 :happyflower: :sun:

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