Happy Tuesday, Friends! I hope you are staying warm! With the bitter cold temperatures, my husband and I have been burning fires nearly every night in our wood burning stove. And to appreciate the visual effects of a real fire, I’ll share the easiest way to clean and maintain a wood burning stove! (Hint: Even though pictured here, Lacey does not help.)
We’ve had several homes with gas fireplaces. I admit, it’s hard to beat the ease and convenience of gas logs. With the flip of a switch, you have the beauty and warmth of a fire without the hassle or mess. We have gas logs at our lake house for this very reason.
But in our Doylestown house, because of the bitter winters, we opted for a wood burning fireplace. The maker is Fireplace Extraordinare, and true to its name, it is extraordinary! Yes, a wood burning stove is expensive to purchase and install, but the benefits far outweigh the costs. And quickly!
Our first winter in Pennsylvania we froze our fandoodies off. (What my Grandfather referred to as one’s backside.) The gas logs just didn’t cut it. When my husband suggested a wood burning stove I pictured a huge pot bellied stove in the middle of our family room, such as this one. (Not that there is anything wrong with this lovely stove, but just not the look I was hoping for in our new, more modern home.)
Au contraire! Wood stoves have come a long way. Our wood stove looks like an enclosed fireplace. And talk about the heat this one throws out! You can hardly stand in front of it when the blower kicks on. As you can see, Lacey enjoys a warm fire as well. (I have since painted the sad looking mantle.)
But along with the warmth and beauty of a real fire, come the chores. We buy our wood locally from Haycock Lumber in Plumsteadville, PA. They sell debarked, slab wood. You can go and hand pick your own, which we did the first year or two, but they will deliver for a slight fee. We usually buy 2 cords of wood at a time and it lasts us all winter and then some. It is quite the undertaking hauling this pile from the driveway to the backyard. But, it’s good, clean wood.
We stack our own wood, split it and carry it to the Veranda where we keep a pile handy right outside the back door. I found this cute wood caddy at an antique store years ago for $20.
Also we have an antique wrought iron cauldron in our family room next to the fireplace for easy loading. Chopping wood is tough, but can be very therapeutic. I highly recommend it. The cauldron holds enough wood for an evening’s fire.
In addition to chopping and hauling the wood, we regularly sweep out the ashes and clean the glass. (I call these my “Cinderella chores.”) We found the very best glass cleaner is called Rutland White Off Glass Cleaner. It’s available at most home improvement stores or you can buy it on Amazon for less than $8 for an 8 oz. bottle and it lasts a long time. I am here to tell you this is THE best glass cleaner we’ve ever used. We tried several different brands but this one is by far the easiest to use with the best results. It contains no ammonia so there is little smell and also removes white residue in addition to black soot.
White Off reminds me of Soft Scrub Cleaner in its texture and consistency. You simply squirt a dime size amount of the cleaner on a few paper towels and rub the black soot. You can see how patches of soot sticks to the glass marring the all-important view of the fire.
The soot comes off with very little scrubbing. Then buff the glass well with clean paper towels. We clean the glass doors every day before we build a fire making it easy to keep clean. If you don’t stay on top of it, the doors can get very black and makes it hard to see the fire. Personally I love seeing the fire so this is important to me. See how clear the glass looks after a quick clean with White Off? Now it’s ready for the fire!
Here is the freshly stacked wood. It not only looks pretty but smells fresh and natural. We also bought the large stump from Haycock. We use this as our chopping block.
And the back side of the wood pile. Isn’t it pretty? The only downside is snakes also enjoy a nice wood pile. Sometimes my wood chopping is accompanied by my screams. I have a running joke with my neighbors that I’ve cried “snake” so many times if I were ever in real danger and screaming, they would think, “Dell saw a snake. No big deal.”
Thus, I highly recommend a real wood burning stove versus a gas fire place. It saved us tons of money over the last 15 years in heating bills not to mention the joy we’ve gotten from having a roaring fire in our family room each night. If you are interested, please check out Fireplace Extraordinaire. In addition to a wood stove, they sell a wonderful temperature controlled gas fireplace.
Stay warm, my friends! Thank you for stopping by! xoxo Dell