John, Northland.

John has written in with his “recipe” for making a perfect oily rag fire in a freestanding wood burning heater. “It all starts with junk mail. Use the newsprint type as the glossy paper does not burn so well. Next add dead cabbage tree leaves – the one’s that wrap around your mower blades and are really difficult to remove. Take a handful, fold them, and wrap them together. Then comes the kindling. I use dried flax flower stalks. Break them into pieces about 330 long – they work a treat. Then it’s a layer of pine cones. Once they are hot and roaring, I add the large pieces of firewood. Start with a softwood like pine, and after that use a mixture of hardwood and softwood. Before bed, add only hardwood so it lasts through the night. Next morning it’s just a matter of bringing it back up to the desired heat. The best thing is all of the materials are available free.”