with all this recent talk of tent/portable wood stoves, we tried out the fireplace today, the ultimate indoor wood burning fixture. not since the 80's, when we first moved into this house, have we tried the fireplace. we didn't know what we were doing and ended up smoking the living room, and haven't used the fireplace since. actually, fireplaces seem to be less and less common, especially in new houses. a wood burning fireplace itself can act as a heat sink, drawing away crucial heat from an otherwise well insulated home.
the one thing we never did was to first heat the inside of the chimney with some burning newspaper to force out the trapped cold air which would otherwise prevent the wood burning smoke from rising up and leaving the chimney. we used some of our backyard log, which we have plenty of, even though a lot of them are in bad shape, a combination of wet and dry and some decomposition.
but the fireplace still works, even though it seems really weird to have this burning fire inside the house. it's pretty warm, especially if you're sitting around the fireplace, but i can't help thinking how much of that heat is wasted by escaping out the chimney. the fire also imparted a nice wood burning smell in the house, reminded me of camping.