How to Build & Maintain a Fire in a Wood/Coal Cook Stove
BUILDING THE FIRE
A good modern range is designed to get the greatest cooking and heating value out of the flue used. When the range and chimney draft are right, a properly controlled fire will do all the work required, without wasting fuel.
It is therefore necessary to bear in mind that the first problem of better baking is an understanding of the fire. If a match is lighted, the flame shoots upward. The hot blaze causes a DRAFT, drawing fresh air from below and supplying the oxygen necessary for combustion. The range simply makes use of this basic principle on a large scale.
To start the fire, then, have on hand plenty of free-burning fuel-dry paper and woodcut small. A folded newspaper will not burn freely, but a few sheets lightly twisted make a good first layer. Then a moderate supply of kindling wood, lay in loosely.
Before lighting, open the door or slide under the fire, also the direct draft to the chimney (over the oven) and the check slide at the base of smoke pipe and also the damper in the smoke pipe. The purpose is to promote a free passage of air up through the firebox to the chimney by the most direct route.
Remember that no stove has a draft of itself. The draft is furnished by the chimney through the stovepipe, which obviously must be tight in all its joints. Light the fire from below and allow it to get a good start. If it burns too slowly, it needs more oxygen, supplied by opening the door wide under the fire. If it burns too fast, it wiII produce more smoke than the chimney can draw off and the excess will be thrown out into the room. Partly closing the door under the fire will retard it. (The first fire in a new range usually causes a little surface smoke and oily odor. This is harmless and soon passes off).
Before applying coal, add a little more kindling. The grate should be well covered with a brisk fire, both to support and ignite the coal evenly and to prevent waste through the grate.
Never use kerosene to quicken a slow fire.
When the coal fire has a good start the oven damper may be closed.
The process of keeping up a good coal fire is merely one of adding more fuel, and occasionally "shaking down” to remove the ashes under the coal.
Do not allow ashes to collect close up under the grate. In fact, this is about the only way a grate is damaged in ordinary use.
Some housekeepers, who depend upon the kitchen heating adjoining rooms or for continuous hot water, maintain the same coal fire for months at a time.
When not in use for cooking, the oven door may to help heat the adjoining rooms.
CHECKING THE FIRE
If the draft of air through the firebox continues unchecked, the fuel soon burns out, and the top of the range gets red hot-a bad thing for the stove.
This may be accomplished in various ways-by closing tight the door and slide under the fire-by partially closing the damper in the stovepipe or pushing in the slide near the stove pipe collar on top of the range-by opening the slide in the broiler door at the end of the range over the fire- or by tipping the lids or covers over the fire. The chimney keeps pulling for air and reducing the amount of chimney allowing the air to rush in over the fire, instead of through it checks the fire.
Closing the damper over the oven also checks the degree, but the real purpose of this damper is to send the heat around the oven on its way to the chimney.