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Bioenergy Day

National Bioenergy Day

The United States celebrates National Bioenergy Day each October. It recognizes and encourages the use of renewable and sustainable bioenergy sources. In 2018, National Bioenergy Day is October 24. When any organic material with few or no productive applications is used to generate energy, we call it “bioenergy.” The biomass can be any organic low value, waste or byproduct materials that we converted into energy instead of discarding it.  Such renewable, biomass sources include the following:

  • Forest debris such as byproducts from lumbering and from forest restoration.
  • Agricultural waste such as nut shells, corn cobs, sugar cane  and corp wastes.
  • Manufacturing wood waste such as sawdust and furniture building scraps.

In 2017, renewable energy sources account for about 11% of total energy consumption and 17% of electrical generation. Biomass accounts for 45% of those United States’s renewal energy sources. Hydroelectric, wind, solar and geothermal comprise the other 55% of American renewable energy.

Renewable Energy Sources in the United States - 2017

Renewable Energy Sources in the United States – 2017

National Bioenergy Day recognizes the most common household bioenergy heating uses:

  • Wood-burning fireplaces and fire pits.
  • Wood stoves, wood-burning fireplace inserts and wood furnaces.
  • Free-standing pellet stoves, pellet inserts, boilers, and furnaces; and
  • Ethanol fireplaces and fire pits.

Bioenergy Day celebrates the use of sustainable, renewable and carbon-friendly energy sources. Unlike fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, energy derived from organic material introduces little or no new carbons into the atmosphere. Furthermore, they are typically sourced and produced locally. Therefore, firewood, wood pellets, and ethanol require little additional fuel to get to the homes that use them.

Firewood is burned for heat and light in wood-burning fireplaces and fire pits and in wood stoves.


Wood pellets are manufactured from wood byproducts. They are uniform in size, shape, moisture content, density and energy content. Compared with firewood, their moisture content is lower (4% to 8% vs. 20% to 60% for fire logs). Their density is higher (40 pounds per cubic foot vs. 10 to 25 pounds per cubic foot for firewood.) Their lower moisture content and higher density results in higher BTU’s than firewood logs. Their uniformity of size and shape makes for more reliable heating.

wood pellet fuel


Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is a renewable biofuel that is the result of a fermentation process using glucose from the following:

  • Sugar, such as from sugar cane, sweet sorghum, or sugar beets.
  • Starch from grains such as corn or wheat, or from tapioca.
  • Cellulose from wood, grasses, and other cellulosic biomass.

Ethanol fireplace fuel typically comes in quart or liter bottles.

ethanol fireplace fuel, a bioenergy day fuel

Ethanol fireplaces can be wall-mount, tabletop or free-standing. They require no venting, so they can be used almost anywhere.

Ethanol Fuel Fireplaces



Posted in General, Holidays Tagged with:

Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

Halloween fireplace mantel scarf

A Halloween fireplace mantel scarf is the fabric drape that covers the top of the mantel. It provides the foundation upon which a Halloween themed mantel is created. The mantel scarf is to a fireplace mantel like a tablecloth is to a dining table: It sets the color scheme and theme. You can find a Halloween fireplace mantel scarf in six basic designs:

Spiders, Cobweb, and Bat Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

Spider-created webs, and their dusty versions, cobwebs, exemplify the haunted house mystique. Thus, spider webbed fireplace mantel scarves are a staple of Halloween decor.


When the basic spider web mantel scarf adds bats and/or spiders to the mix, the Halloween vibe increases.

You can use a single, large bat spanning the 23″ by 37″ mantel scarf (use two for wider mantels).

Or you can get a series of bats trimming the scalloped edges of a 20″ by 80″ mantel scarf. Whether one or more bats, these black lace mantel cloths capture the spirit of Halloween.


Pumpkin and Jack-o-Lantern Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

No matter if you are thinking of pumpkin pie or jack-o-lantern face carving, pumpkins are prominent part of Halloween. Mantel scarves featuring these are a charming way to decorate your mantel. As an added bonus, ones featuring pumpkins can stay on the mantel through Thanksgiving.


Ghost Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

This white mantel scarf is best used with a dark fireplace mantel, fireplace surround, or wall behind the fireplace. The ghost bordered mantel scarf can cast a spell over your fireplace. The ghosts are more Casper than spooky, but hauntingly cute!

Pennant Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

Displaying pennants is a classic way to show your spirit and celebrate events. Therefore, this stunning Halloween fireplace mantel scarf has oodles of Halloween inspired banners.



Witch Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

Bewitchingly clever, this Halloween mantel scarf is a definite smile-generator. It features hanging witch legs with black sequined shoes, whimsical layers of black lace, purple tulle, orange and purple sequined banners. Furthermore, it even has mini LED lights!



Lighted Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarves

Turn out or dim the lights in the room. A lighted Halloween fireplace mantel scarf will add its own light, sparkle, and drama. In addition to traditional orange lights, some are available with purple lights. Many feature black gauze.


Topping a Halloween Fireplace Mantel Scarf

Now your mantel has its first layer, the Halloween mantel scarf. This base will pull together the Halloween decorative items you choose to top it with. Add whatever Halloween decorations suit your style.  Candles, pumpkins, spiders, bats, human or animal replica skeletons, ravens, black cats, ghosts and more can adorn your mantel. All of them will make a haunting memory for your Trick or Treaters, family and friends.


How a Fireplace Mantel Scarf Attaches

Finally, most Halloween fireplace mantel scarves fit on the mantel much like a tablecloth fits on a dining table. With the fireplace mantel scarf, however, the fabric drapes over three sides (front and both sides) of the mantel instead of over four edges. If they don’t stay in place by themselves, the decorative objects you use on top of them will weight them down.

For very long mantels, a mantel scarf can just be draped over the center of the mantel. The fabric does not need to drape over the ends of the mantel.

A less frequently use method is to attach the mantel scarf to the side and front edges of the fireplace mantel with double-sided tape. This allows you to have more fabric hanging down. but it will not provide the covering to the mantel shelf that the other method provides.

Fireplace Mantel Scarf Hung from Edges of the Mantel


Posted in Decorating, Holidays Tagged with: ,

Halloween Skeleton Fireplace

Halloween Skeleton Fireplace

Make no bones about it, skeletons are the backbone of Halloween decorating. A Halloween skeleton fireplace with simulated human, dog and cat, bat and rat, bird and reptile, or even dragon and unicorn skeletons can send tingles up  your spine. In addition to decorating the fireplace, skeletons can sit on chairs or couches and hide in closets. They can prance across shelves or lounge by a cauldron full of Halloween candy.

From a pile of human-like bones replacing the logs in your fireplace, to skeletal creatures haunting the mantel, hearth, and inside a firebox, any Halloween skeleton fireplace is an attention grabber!

scattered bones replace logs in fireplace for Halloween

Even just a replica, life-sized  single human skull,…

skeleton skull

strategically located on a fireplace mantel, can create spooky drama.

single skull dramatizes Halloween mantel

Dramatically lit human skull is all that’s needed to create this Halloween mantel. Photo courtesy http://twitter.com/meaghancash

Or feature a limited number of human bone sets to accent your fireplace and hearth. Below, for example, are skeletal hands, arms and a skull.

Skeleton hands, arms and skull

Complete Human Halloween Skeleton Fireplace

A life-sized human skeleton, posed sitting on your raised hearth, certainly grabs attention!

Halloween skeleton fireplace


Or go with smaller skeletons strung onto a garland to decorate the mantel.

skeleton garland for fireplace mantel


Bat, Rat, and Cat Halloween Skeleton Fireplace

Flying bats, scary rats, and hissing black cats are all part of Halloween. The skeleton versions of these animals up the creepy factor significantly!

Bats in and around your fireplace are spooky enough. But long dead skeletal bats can make your skin crawl. You can get them in a variety of sizes. Furthermore, you can hang them head up or feet up.

bat skeletons for the fireplace or other Halloween decorating

Crazy Bonez bat skeletons even have feet that allow you to hang the bats on your mantel. The bats’ toes are bent backwards. This lets them hang from any ledge such as a mantel or shelf. They naturally pose like sleeping bats.

skeleton bats hang on fireplace mantel


Any time of year, not just at Halloween, the sight of rats or mice gives most folks a startle. Place them scampering across the mantel, climbing up the fireplace, or lounging by the heat of the fireplace. Skeleton rats and skeleton mice are perfect for posing by a Halloween hearth.

Rat skeletons and mice skeletons scamper around the fireplace


The skeletal remains of cats are an eerie Halloween decorations. Allow the kitty and cat skeletons to warm up by the fire or investigate the mantel. Up the haunted scale by using skeleton cats with LED eyes that light up and glow!

cat Halloween skeleton fireplace


Dog Halloween Skeleton Fireplace

No bones about it, man’s best friend, even in skeletal form, deserves to curl up in front of the fireplace. Dog skeletons come in a variety of breeds. Which dog skeletons will grace your heath this Halloween?

dog skeletons


Bird Skeleton Fireplace Decorations

Vultures, raven, crows and owls are all associated with Halloween. Elevate your spooky decorations with bird skeletons. In addition, some bird skeletons, even parrot skeletons, come complete with their own bird cages.

bird skeletons

Reptile Halloween Skeleton Fireplace

Snake? Lizards? Frogs? Are the things that slither, crawl and hop part of your Halloween nightmares? If so, snake skeletons, lizard and gecko skeletons, and frog skeletons are, therefore, just the things for cold-blooded Halloween decorating!

skeletons of snakes, lizards, toads, frogs, and geckos

Other Worldly Skeletons

Halloween is noted for creatures that appear for a limited time each fall. Witches, wizards, zombies, and ghosts belong in the world of Halloween. What a perfect time to decorate your fireplace or mantel with the remains of mythical beings! Are dragon skeletons your thing? Or would a unicorn skull express your uniqueness this Halloween?

Dragon Skeletons and Unicorn Skull



Finally, if none of these suggestions meets your expectations, check out ceramic fireplace or fire pit logs in the shape of human or demon skulls. Light a fire and watch flames blaze through the skulls!

human skull fire logs


So have a rattling good time this Halloween! Adding skeletons to your ghoulish decor can never be a grave mistake.

Posted in Decorating, Holidays Tagged with:

Firewood Poems

Firewood Poems and Songs

Traditionally, knowledge based on teachings and experiences about selecting and burning firewood was passed along verbally. Often such information was put into a rhyming format to make it easier to remember. Thus were born firewood poems and firewood songs to address the question, “Which Firewood Burns Best?”

As with most things passed from generation to generation, there are often more than one version of any firewood poem or song.

We share the following firewood poems and songs with one note of caution: Some of the information in the firewood poems and songs might have details that are more folklore than fact.

Firewood Poems and Songs

“The Firewood Poem”

While most poems about firewood are passed along orally with their authors lost to time, perhaps the most often quoted firewood poem has a known author. Lady Cecelia Congreve wrote “The Firewood Poem” during her short life, 1900-1940. Its first publication may have been in The Times on May 2, 1930.

Lady Cecelia Congreve, author of The Firewood Poem

Lady Cecelia Congreve, author of The Firewood Poem

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for logs ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold.

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But Ash green or Ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter’s cold
But Ash wet or Ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

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“Woodburning Rhyme”

This traditional, anonymous “Woodburning Rhyme”, also known as “Logs to Burn”, is a favorite of many:

Logs to Burn, a traditional firewood poem

Logs to Burn, Logs to burn, Logs to burn,
Logs to save the coal a turn,
Here’s a word to make you wise,
When you hear the woodman’s cries.

Never heed his usual tale,
That he has good logs for sale,
But read these lines and really learn,
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well,
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pine will smell,
But the sparks will fly.

Beech logs for Christmas time,
Yew logs heat well.
“Scotch” logs it is a crime,
For anyone to sell.

Birch logs will burn too fast,
Chestnut scarce at all.
Hawthorn logs are good to last,
If you cut them in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax,
You should burn them green,
Elm logs like smouldering flax,
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs,
They will scent your room,
Cherry logs across the dogs,
Smell like flowers in bloom.

But ash logs, all smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old;
Buy up all that come your way,
They’re worth their weight in gold.

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“Fire Woods”

The short, anonymous poem “Fire Woods” is so easy for the novice to learn, it is recommended as the most basic of firewood poems:

Beech trees

These hardwoods burn well and slowly,
Ash, beech, hawthorn, oak and holly.

Softwoods flare up quick and fine,
Birch, fir, hazel, larch and pine.

Elm and willow you’ll regret,
Chestnut green and sycamore wet.

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Camp Fire Wood Poem

The 1964 manual for Girl Guides (similar to Girl Schools) included this poem attributed to G. Briggs, Camp Fire Wood Poem. Although it is addressed to those interested in camping fires, it it nonetheless relevant to those burning wood in fireplaces and wood stoves:

Girl Guides use firewood poems to memorize the burning characteristics of wood

You can sit by the camp-fire, watching
The leap of the yellow flame,
But the wood of each tree is different,
And no two burn the same.

ASH I reckon the finest kind:
Burns good whether green or dry.
POPLAR, now, is no manner of use;
You might just as well let it lie.

PINE-CONES and FIR-CONES, they’re kindling wood;
They’re handy to use as such.
Dry JUNIPER boughs burn fierce and hot,
But flare and crackle too much.

BIRCH burns quickly, is mighty good
If your fire be newly lit;
And remember that FIRS are useful too,
But, I warn you, they spark a bit!

There’s magic, Guides, in the camper’s fire;
It’s been told of in song and rhyme,
And the light of it shines down darkened years
To the dim beginning of time.

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“More Wood”

The second verse of “More Wood”, a song composed by Dillon Bustin, addresses the burning characteristics of various firewoods:

More Wood, a firewood song

When the kindling is dwindling, the bottom logs get soggy
Those ricks of sticks and racks and stacks
It makes you wonder where they go and barnfuls of armfuls
They only last a week or so
And then you’ll be hurting for wood.
Well the sassafras it burns too fast,
It starts the fire but never lasts.
And swamp oak likes to smoke you blow it till you think you’ll choke.
But hickory is just the tree to remind you of the ecstasy
Of having a pile of good wood, I said …

Wood (hard wood)
Firewood (dry wood)
There’s not a stove in the world
That’s going to do you any good
Without wood (stove wood)
We could (you should)
Be out cutting more wood.

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Wood Lore

This Old English song of unknown origin is titled Wood Lore:

Old English Wood Lore

Hickory makes the hottest coals in stoves when winter’s bleak,
Apple wood like incense burning through the hall both fragrance seek,
Elm wood fires have little smoke and warm both serf and lord,
Oak logs split and dried this year make good next winters hoard,
Beech burns bright and fill a the room with warmth and dancing light,
Maple sweet, not white or red will burn throughout the night,
Birch logs cut, need ne’er be stored they blaze, then heat the pot,
Ash, straight grain and easy split the kettle sings, and stove is hot,
Poplar logs must need be dried lest smoke both then ensue,
Pine and fir midst showers of sparks burn fast and line the blackened flue.

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Firewood Ditty

In the following short Firewood Ditty, it might help to know that “plane” refers to the American sycamore tree:

fireplace ashes are all that remain of any firewood

No matter which hardwood or softwood you burn,
Oak, Apple, Rowan or Plane
You will find that when to your grate you return
There is one which will always remain …Ash!


Did you learn any of these firewood poems or songs growing up? Finally, do you have additional ones to add about the burning characteristics of each type of wood and to answer the pressing question of Which Firewood Burns Best?

Posted in Using Your Fireplace Tagged with:
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