Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

January 14, 2013

Upside-down fire and Efficient energy use

A friend of mine linked to a really interesting article about fire the other day and it "sparked" my curiosity. I know, fire - the oldest of mans arts, how interesting could it be right? Well, it was an article from Milkwood Permaculture about a thing called an upside down fire. I've seen fires that are fed from the top and burn sideways, a la Rocket stoves, but never heard of an upside down fire. I had to give this thing a try.

The idea in a nutshell is to stack the fire inversely to how you would typically start a fire, by putting the big, heavy logs on the bottom first and then slowly getting smaller towards the top ending with kindling and some starter paper or whatever on top. I went ahead and stacked mine three levels deep in our wood burning fireplace and got it started. I have to admit, I was vocally pessimistic about it.

The idea is to capitalize on the fact that while the flames, smoke and gasses in a fire may move upward away from the fire, that the radiant heat from the actual combustion moves equally out away from the fire in all directions.

As the combustion heat from the fire radiates downward as well as up, it preheats the wood below it prior to it catching fire. This aids in it's more efficient burn and reduced smoke. The picture above was was about the time that I started thinking "You know.. this may just work."

And then by this point I was sold... More so even than the fact that it continued to burn downward, which honestly did kind of amaze me, but the fact that I didn't have to do anything to it. I just sat back, watched some TV with the wife and our boys and enjoyed the heat!

And you have to understand, I have a bit of a fire obsession. I am always moving the logs and re-stacking when they're not burning evenly... but there was really none of that. I only had to adjust them once. Then when the initial wood load had burned down, I moved some of the coals off to the side, added new wood and stacked coals on it. Poof. right back on fire and much much more efficient burning over all. If I had to try to put a number on it, I would guess somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% added efficiency.

Then, when we were getting ready to turn in and the fire had burned down to a pile of very nice, orange coals. I decided to live up to Milkwood Permaculture's suggestion and put those coals to some use. I don't know how it will work out, but before we went off to bed, I added a couple of foil wrapped potatoes to the coals to see how they cook up over night. I don't think it will have enough heat to finish them, but I am going to cube them and fry then with some eggs in the morning anyway. We'll see if this saves me a little time? I'll finish this post in the morning with the verdict...

And the clear answer to the question of if that will work is YES! This worked fantastically. I got up in the morning, unwrapped these and they were cooked to perfection! We had baked potatoes a few nights earlier and these potatoes were really hard to cook. Very firm. This way though, they were perfectly done. I chopped them up the next morning and gave them a quick fry for some breakfast burritos and they were delicious, so I heartily give this a thumbs up!

Wishing you the best till next time! Thanks for dropping by.


SLCUrban said...

Well. AWESOME! Makes wish I had a fireplace that burned wood! I have to wait for a campfire somewhere.

Moonwaves said...

Baked potatoes for breakfast! What a fabulous idea. Okay, that needs to get written down somewhere against the day when I actually have a working fireplace to use (4th floor apartments tend not to have them :) )

Dee Marie said...

That's great. We'll definitely have to try this. Living in GA, we only get to use our fireplace a couple of months out of the year. We have central heat, but we tend to use the fireplace as our primary heat source. The weather has been screwy, so right now we have 80 degree weather in January. But, as soon as it cools off again we'll give it a try. Thank you for posting this.
Dee Marie