Burn Zone


In the Burn Zone

We heat with wood. That is our source of heat all winter. Because our cottage is so small and so thermally massive it takes only about three quarters of a cord of wood to keep it comfortable.
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To keep it safe we burn full bore sending the needle up to the top of the burn zone. Hot fires then burn themselves down to coals which are mostly gone by the next morning. This daily hot fire cycle keeps the chimney clean of creosote and does a most excellent job of extracting the heat from the dry wood.

Dry wood is another key in safe wood fires. We dry the wood first in the wood shed post splitting and then it is further dried in a warm drying rack in the cottage in the days before it is needed. Even ‘dry’ several year old wood will bubble out a little vapor and fluid as it initially heats up but the extra drying time just before burning helps to eliminate even that which makes for a more efficient and safer fire.

The full bore fires release their heat via the long stove pipe into the massive 100,000 lbs of masonry that makes up our cottage, storing the energy for days. That thermal mass’s warmth plus some solar gain through the big windows means our cottage never freezes even without the warming fire. With a small fire in the tiny stove our cottage stays warm all winter.

Outdoors: 14°F/-4°F Sunny
Tiny Cottage: 65°F/560°F

Daily Spark: I had my wisdom teeth pulled to make room for silly things.

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About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Burn Zone

  1. eggyknap says:

    You’ve probably blogged about this in the past, but I’m curious to know about your culinary water system. Is it safe to guess you have a spring (do you need wells in places like you’re in?) and some tank + pressurizer pump system?

    • I’m not quite sure what you’re asking. Are you inquiring about the source of water for the butcher shop? Fresh Vermont Mountain Spring Water. No trademark required. :) I have a filter system that it will run through in graduated steps and it is tested twice annually by the state.

      • eggyknap says:

        I meant for your home, but I imagine the butcher shop is a similar setup. Springs are a rarity out here in the parched and arid western wilderness. I’m in central Utah, and because we’re in a low part of our valley our well is only 100 or so feet deep; others a few miles away drill 300 feet before they hit water. I suspect that whether the water comes from a spring or a well, though, the subsequent mechanics to pressurize it, filter it if you choose to do so, and dispose of waste through a septic system are similar.

        • Ah, our cottage is served by the same spring that will serve the butcher shop and has served our farm house and farm for over 200 years. It is probably why our farm house was built in this location since it is a very good spring and uphill of the house thus allowing gravity feed. When digging I found old wooden pipes leading out of the spring in the boggy area below it so our old farm house may have had running water hundreds of years ago… Very advanced for the time.

          Our land has lots of springs which is something I specifically looked for when I was searching for land back in the 1980’s. Water is critical to life. It comes to the surface here and leaks out of the mountains. Since we have a great deal of head our water is also nicely pressurized. A sand filter helps with the initial cleanup. For the cottage I have a simple filter that swirls the water just as it enters the house. For the butcher shop I’ll have multiples of those in graduations and then an ultra-fine filter.

          Disposal is through our septic system which we put in several years ago. We had one that was grandfathered that was sufficient for the house and cottage but for the butcher shop I decided to build a more modern septic tank and leach field setup. That is now ready and waiting.

  2. karl says:

    I miss heating with wood. I have a Jotul but need to re-line the chimney. For now, that money needs to go else. There are many projects in the queue that supersede the need to add a little heat to our mild winters here in Berkeley.

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