The 9 Best Andirons
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Types of AndironsAn andiron can come in two types which are decorative or functional. Decorative andiron has shortened shanks where the logs are supposed to rest. Decorative andirons have these shorter legs because they are meant to be used in front of the fireplace grate.
These legs are four to five inches long and should not be placed in the fire. Functional andirons have shanks with a length of twelve to twenty inches and are made to hold logs while burning. This type of andiron is to be used in place of a fireplace grate.
It is a good idea to use a grate in conjunction with the andirons, so the grate can catch logs that burn in the middle and would otherwise drop outside or inside the andirons. When the grate catches these log-ends, the wood can continue to burn until completely gone.
Functional andirons can be placed outside of the grate on both sides. Another option for using a grate with an andiron is to purchase a grate with the legs long enough to clear the shanks.
Using Decorative AndironsDecorative andirons make a fireplace and a room more attractive and can be used for four main reasons:
- A person can create a fireplace theme which could include matching log holder, tool set, grate, and possibly a fireplace screen to harmonize the entire area.
- Decorative andirons can blend with any style of décor in a room. These styles include modern, colonial, classical, or traditional.
- These types of andirons can make the fireplace a visual interest in a room.
- They will also add a fabulous flair to the fireplace area.
Using Functional AndironsFunctional andirons are not as festive as the decorative andirons, but they do have three main functions in a fireplace:
1. This type of andiron keeps the firewood in place which allows it to burn cleanly.
2. To help start a fire and keep it going, functional andirons provide a positive upwards draft.
3. A functional andiron makes lighting and keeping a fire going easier.
When using a functional andiron, a person should place the logs ¼” to ½” apart to create draft under and between the logs. Placing the logs at this advantage, allows a fire to have enough oxygen to start and continue burning with ease.
Once a good draft created by a functional andiron is established, a fire is easy to tend by adding wood when needed.
Building a Fire with an Andiron
People once relied on a fireplace to cook and provide heat for their families. During this time, it was critical to learn to start a fire, because knowing how to start a fire could save a person’s life.
Andirons can be dated as far back in time as the 14th century with some evidence of use in the Iron Age. Andirons have made fire starting a natural process. When starting a fire with an andiron, a person should complete five simple steps.
The first step is to gather tinder for the fire. Big logs need help to ignite, and this support comes from kindling and tinder. Do not use any form of starter fluids such as petroleum distillates, gas, or kerosene in a fireplace, because it is not safe. Dried pine needles, bark, leaves, and grass, can be used instead.
Once a person has kindling and tinder, he or she should arrange the tinder in a loose pile in the center of the andirons. It is important to leave some air space to prevent smoke from entering the room. The kindling should be laid crisscross on top of the tinder which should be piled higher than the andiron’s support bar.
Next, the logs should be placed on the support bars of the andiron directly above the tinder and kindling. Gaps should be between the logs to allow for air to circulate. Circulation will guarantee less smoke and a bigger, healthier fire.
If a homeowner is using manufactured fire logs that combine petroleum wax and sawdust, he or she does not need to use tinder or kindling and can place the manufactured logs directly on the andiron. This type of fuel is the best to use because the fire logs last longer and provide a consistent fire.
Manufactured firelogs also are easy to clean because everything burns with little ash left behind. However, regular wood logs will provide more heat.
The final step is to light the tinder and kindling. The fire should be started in the center so that it has to be light only once.
More Research on Andirons
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