Warm the Globe

It gets put to us that 70 or 97% of the energy from the wood we burn in an open hearth system goes straight out the chimney into the atmosphere, that thin gaseous layer encompassing Earth, sustaining life. I say, it’s a good thing to keep that in mind, at all times too.

The often flooded brick bottom of the ash bin under the hearth.

Here’s the original construction I have uncovered, a pit, bricked on bottom and sides to make a box under the burning fire for containing ash. It would have had a cast iron  cover with a removable grate under the fire that let ash and cinders fall through. These cast iron covers, they take time, dedication and so much money to find and acquire that I have gone to plan “B”, fill it in, but in a way to preserve it.

My way of covering the hole in the ground.

So I put a not cast sheet of iron, cheap & easily bought, lid on sealing the ash bunker off and giving me relief from the cold and damp ground under there.

Then I dump a bunch of junk, empty glass bottles, on top of that and then filled it with sand, good for bedding in my old tiles, “Blues” they are called because part way through the kiln burn the tile makers had cut off the oxygen flow to the fire so it would just smoulder and this

Blue tiles of considerable age

turned the red clay blue. These ones have been around this house a while, now I’ll put them back where they go best.

Back to the so-called inefficiencies of this system. I doubt it, and what irritates me about the claim is the smugness. We attach these magical numbers 7o% 97% and look back in such disdain at the ones who thought up chimneys. But when I look, what I see is far from a simple chute funnelling smoke and heat to the air outside. As much as for heating it is a food preservation and cooking system which alone punches some big holes in the efficiency equation propagated by the ecologists.


This pig thing has come up unexpectedly and has diverted me necessarily from the restoration work in the front room


at hand because in order to smoke the pig I’ve got to get the fireplace in order. Still, seen from the holistic point of view it’s all part of the same process.







  1. I think you understand my skepticism to some of the easy answers that get put out to complex problems. Ecologists, I do love them for their sincerity and rationality and we should show compassion to them despite their all to human failings. I can only guess about the alternatives. The one we had in that other place for heating which really is the best was this photo kachel_zps58bwxgfm.jpg with a 99% return.

    For smoking the hams, probably they’d want me to not eat meat, which I don’t unless I have done the slaughtering – well, lets just be putting it bluntly and say killing – myself. Or else I might get the advise like, “Go to some specialists down the road in the neighbourhood…” like the one getting his hams from the same farmer I got mine from. Only then I would have to give him 600€ for just one.

  2. Well here, open fire-places tend to set up a gale of cold air through the house and if you go to the West Coast they use that wonderful pungent fuel “Heaphy Coal” that melts the grate and fills the air with the stench of gas-works. They used to blame the soot for asthma rates, now they blame the design of houses that are all sealed up so damp and mouldy. At least open fires ensured good ventilation but I do like having a house that is the same temperature from one end to the other and is warmer inside than out in winter.
    Having said all that I can see your open fire has a far more efficient design than anything I grew up with, and as you point out is dual purpose. If it was my house I’d be fixing it too!

  3. Once I blocked off the chimney from the outside, a few days later all the walls and the ceiling upstairs were dripping water so I opened it back up quick. It seems with a damper system inside the chimney between the up and down-stairs a draft through the house can be managed more or less.

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