It’s better than bad, it’s good! (Day 343)…

fireplace channel

I’m currently staying at a friend’s cottage, where they have satellite TV and this thing called The Fire Log Channel (do you not immediately think of this when you read that?). Now, I’d actually heard about pyro-television a couple years ago, but kind of forgot about it, figuring it was one of those ridiculous fads that would never last.

But according to StarChoice, demand for the fireplace channel was so great, they practically had no choice but to bring it back, extending its season to the end of February. As they so seductively argue, “it only takes a second to ignite your glowing fire” — just click on channel 238 or 299.

I have to admit, at first I thought it was the stupidest thing ever, but eventually it sucks you in with its hypnotic glow. It’s no different than any other fire, but because it’s on TV, you can’t help but be a little more entertained — wondering if that smaller log over to the left of the screen might topple at any second, a victim of the bigger logs’ alliance, or maybe there’s a hidden message in the pattern of the sparks…

Anyway, the David Suzuki in me was finally fed up and demanded I turn the thing off, so I did. But I would love a fire, now that I’m in a house that can accommodate it — the only decision now is whether to use the gas-powered one or the real thing.

Automatically, I’m going to assume making a real fire is more eco-friendly than using a remote to turn on the gas-fuelled one — at least providing there’s real wood involved, not those easy-light firelogs; or then again, maybe the “green” Duraflame logs aren’t so bad? — but I could be wrong. Maybe this will be like the microwave post.

So while I tentatively pledge to only light my fire the old-fashioned way, please let me know if I’m mistaken — certainly it would take less energy from Yours Truly to press an “on” button.

Image courtesy of AP on Flickr

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25 Responses to It’s better than bad, it’s good! (Day 343)…

  1. LG Adam says:

    I love watching fires and seeing when logs are going to topple! You could get one of those things you see in magazines you get with newspapers – you know, with the CD player that’s also a footstool and the shoes that are just like slippers (that’s because they are slippers) – where you can make logs from old newspapers. Might not be as good as recycling the paper but better than buying logs. Or if you know of a place where they do forestry and need to cut down trees to keep the forst healthy then you’ll get all the free wood you need.

  2. Julia says:

    If you’re looking for wood, check around for a local tree surgeon, or if you see city workers pruning trees, stop and ask for the wood. In most cases, the excess wood is only going to be chipped, and I’ve had very good luck with most of them being willing to let me have the wood. I got several hefty logs recently because they were pruning the trees that run along my street since the double-decker buses smack into the branches.

  3. limesarah says:

    Lighting a fire or two while you’re at the cottage isn’t going to do too much damage, but fireplaces are notoriously polluting. Well-constructed woodburning stoves with properly aged wood burn in them very cleanly, but most decorative fireplaces are incredibly smoky. At least use locally and sustainably cut, aged wood in them.

  4. Isis says:

    I’ve heard that wood-burning fires are actually pretty nasty in terms of the smoke they put out. You might look for Coffee Logs… I think they’re made in Canada, and they’re made from used coffee grounds.

  5. Greenpa says:

    I’d vote for the local wood. Anything shipped in from somewhere else is going to have a bunch of fossil fuel hiding in its costs somewhere; very hard to document. Particularly if somebody there is getting your local wood by carefully managing a forest- it can be your best bet. Cutting out the right trees can actually make a forest grow faster- etc. It CAN get really complicated- cutting a dead tree is NOT automatically a good thing- woodpeckers need something to eat, too ya know.

    Counting ALL the inputs- is something we’re not very good at just yet- leaving a lot of room for discussion.

    Likewise- if I were in a city- those artificial green logs might not be such a bad idea. They use sawdust – which is going to be either burned or composted (badly, probably) anyway-and they ship much better than most real wood; easy (cheap) to handle and put on a shelf-

    Then- there’s the mental impact. I gotta tell ya, gas just doesn’t do it for me- part of the warm fuzzies from a fire come from the smell of the wood smoke (slight, we hope! but important.) AND- the attention a real wood fire requires. You have to poke it; feed it- all of that is comforting.

    Local wood! And don’t worry about it too much! Anything you do to keep warm uses fuel- this is not much different.

  6. Roger says:

    Terracycle will have logs out sometime next fall, now this doesn’t help you today, you can definitely look forward to their recycled logs next fall! Best part… the log is wrapped in old newspapers!

  7. Chile says:

    If you’ve got to burn fake logs, why not a javalog?

  8. blah says:

    I’ve never heard of a javalog, but I’m imagining the smell of choclate and coffee wafting through the house. That could prove to be dire if you’re someone like me, and try to eat the darn thing.

    I would think that using the propane would be cleaner. It burns much cleaner, but I’m not really sure

  9. blah says:

    I don’t get this channel 😦 I’m one of those people who sadly cannot function without the white noise of the TV in the background. White noise machines just aren’t the same (I’ve tried). I would love to have this channel though. If anything, it just looks nice. I bet this would look awesome in homes that have the television placed inside the fireplace.

  10. joe says:

    Love the Ren & Stimpy reference. 🙂

  11. caress says:

    when i offer to heat our house solely with wood recently, my husband countered that wood is more pollutant and less efficient than other sources of heat. it seems, though that there are plenty of people who disagree. as with just about everything… there seems to be a good bit of debate. here are a few interesting links, though.

    http://www.seacoastnrg.org/2007/01/30/is-burning-wood-really-carbon-neutral/
    http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-11-13-woodburning-pollution_x.htm
    http://www.lungusa.org/site/pp.asp?c=dvLUK9O0E&b=23354

  12. Sunny says:

    This channel is solely a Canadian thing. My husband and I saw it when we visted BC and couldn’t figure it out. We saw a video of it for sale too. Never seen it here in the US.

  13. arduous says:

    Oh my god. The fire log channel. I love it. I admit that my co-workers and I are slightly obsessed with the fish-bowl channel we get at work. Yes, it’s basically fish. In a tank. On tv. That we can watch for hours on end.

  14. They have the fire log channel in Cleveland Ohio too. Weird.

    When I was a kid, we had a fireplace insert which made it act more like a wood stove. Much more efficient than a fireplace. We burned wood (free & local from a friend), newspaper logs, junk mail, dried orange rinds, and whatever else looked safe to burn. We kept a crock of water on top of it as a humidifier. It cut our heating bill by 2/3. Of course, it helped that my mother was home all day to stoke the fire.

  15. Megan Crow says:

    I’m still skeptical of the Dura Flame ‘Green’ Logs.

    Gaiam has an alternative I was looking at…
    http://www.gaiam.com/product/gift-guide/gifts-by-occasion/seasonal-holiday/holy+smokes-+firestarters+-set+of+2-.do?search=basic&keyword=fire&sortby=bestSellers&page=2

    made from recycled church candles and wood fibers.

    But i’ve also seen (and i couldnt find the link) that people make their own fire starters…by using old candle wax and charcoal (such as from a grill). Melt the candle wax and poor into an old egg carton (cardboard/paper) then add some charcoal bits. I’ve always wanted to try it.

  16. linda says:

    The tv logs are the safest and least polluting, even if you factor in coal burning for the electricity!
    Wood-burning is very polluting, and manufactured logs add other substances to the mix, making things even worse.
    There are some types of wood-stoves that seem to be better, but even those need to be carefully researched, since some standards are woefully inadequate.

  17. Mike Rush says:

    Nothing says “I Love You” this Valentines like a Commitment-Fearing (eco-friendly) Firelog: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VEVXOiUiJM8

    Just remember, if you’re a couple looking to heat up your love life and bedroom (literally) this Valentines, a fire can offer warmth, romance, and nostalgia. New all-natural Pine Mountain firelogs, made from recycled sawdust and vegetable wax, burn 80% cleaner than ordinary firewood!

    Also, Java-Log is the first and only firelog made with recycled spent coffee grounds and all-natural vegetable wax — 100 percent renewable resources! Java-Log firelog produces 70-80 percent less emissions than wood, and diverts more than 20 million pounds of coffee waste each year that would otherwise end up in our landfills!

  18. molly says:

    Just something to think about–most fireplaces let out more heat than they produce. So be sure to think of that fire as entertainment, not heat.

  19. gettinggreen says:

    OK, so I just got this email in my inbox (a little too late, unfortch), advertising this clean-burning firelog for Valentine’s Day. Normally, I’d be like, “Whatever, take your promotional crap somewhere else,” but this video that came with it is actually pretty damn funny:

    Consider it logged.

  20. cynthia says:

    Recycle your newspapers and make newspaper logs. Get some sheets of the newspaper wet and roll them really tight so they stick together. Stand them on end over a towel in an area where they will dry. The newspaper logs will stick together tightly when dried.

    Now you have a new use for newspapers.

  21. B McLean says:

    Using real wood is actually very green. The CO2 released is exactly the same amount as if the tree was left to rot on the forest floor. Fire just releases it more quickly. This assuming of course that you do not cut down a living tree, and that the it is properly dried for a high-heat fire

  22. Leila says:

    Depends on whether your goal is something pretty to look at or as an alternative heat source. For the pretty factor, you could just stack candles of various heights in your fireplace. But if you are serious about heat I would invest in a wood stove with a catalytic converter. It makes it both less polluting and more efficient. You can get ones that are built to fit inside a fireplace or freestanding. And some have glass doors. Also never burn green wood. It puts out less heat, lots of pollution, and causes dangerous creosote buildup in your chimney. Gas is less polluting than wood, but then you would not be burning a renewable resource. Much much less work and cleanup though! It’s not just about the “on” button, also think about the ash to cleanup and the trips hauling wood, and all the little bits of bark that end up on your floors. (Can you tell I have a woodstove in my house?)

  23. Log burning girl says:

    We use Java Logs exclusively in our two wood-burning fireplaces (old house).

    They do not smell like coffee… but they do lack the terrible “plastic” smell of every other log we’ve tried.

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