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Building Fires

( Originally Published 1904 )

ONE must be familiar with a range before one can control it. The dampers and drafts must be known, not only as to location, but their several effects upon the fire must be thoroughly understood. The time to learn all of this is when the range is cold and clean. There is always a draft, or door below the fire to allow a plentiful supply of air to rush in and to feed the fire from below. There is also a controlling -damper which shuts off the heat from passing up the chimneys, and throws the heat around the oven. A third opening, or series of them, is placed above the fire-box and allows the air to pass over the fire, which has the effect of checking it.

1. A draft below the fire-box.

2. A damper in the pipe.

3. A check-draft above the fire.

When the fire is started, or when one desires a low fire to burn up quickly, the draft below the fire-box must be wide open; the damper in the pipe must be in such position that free draft up the chimneys is allowed; and the check-draft over the fire must be closed. These several forms of drafts or dampers are present in every range, and there may be some slight modification of them, but the principle is always the same. After the fire has well started, and it is desired to heat the oven, the damper controlling the pipe or chimney must be closed. That will throw the heat around the oven. If the fire is burning too violently the lower draft is closed, the check-draft above is opened, and the chimney damper may. be also closed.

In laying a fire, see that the stove is cleaned of ashes and clinkers. Open the lower draft and the chimney damper; and close the upper check-draft. Place some crumpled pieces of paper in the grate-box first. Do not lay in sheets of paper tightly pressed together. Use plenty of paper if the wood is large, or damp. Let a piece or two of the paper pass down through the bars of the grate so that it may be easily ignited from below. It is also well to place a large piece of wood at the back of the fire-box, and to place the finest pieces of kindling first on the paper in the front. If hard coal is to be used use plenty of wood, and wait until the large pieces are burning well. Then place a thin layer of coal on top of this. After this has ignited and is burning well, add more coal. Do not fill the fire-box more than three-quarters full. A heavily loaded fire-box will throw the heat to the top of the fire-box; will warp the top-covers and bars; and will prevent a free draft over the top of the oven. Nothing is gained by this excessive and wasteful use of coal. After the fire burns well, close the lower draft and the chimney damper, and let the oven heat. Do not use kerosene or other explosive. If soft coal is used, it will ignite more quickly and easily than will hard coal. But it will also create more soot and dirt, which necessitates more frequent cleaning of the stove.

The essential qualities of a good range are:

1. Simplicity of construction. This renders control of the fire easy, and affords fewer chances for getting out of order.

2. Plain finish. This enables one to keep it looking well, with little trouble.

3. Perfection in the fitting of parts. This facilitates the control of the fire, and also of the heat, thus saving fuel and regulating the heat of the oven.

Do not be afraid to open the oven door and to look in to see how things are baking or roasting. Learn to do this quickly and quietly. In-deed, all of the movements about a stove must be done in this way.

The best time to blacken a stove is after the fire is laid, and just before lighting it. Moisten some stove-polish with cold water and apply to the stove with a " dauber." The blacking must be rubbed in thoroughly, especially over the " red spots." Then start the fire, and while it is burning up, polish the stove with the dry brush.

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