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"I know the origin and age of every single log I'm burning"

Both my father and my partner love to make a fire - and anything in connection with it. "I know the origin and age of every single log I'm burning" says my father. I think a lot of people share the passion for making a fire. Might be because of the current season that I see fires all over the place... Anyway: I interviewed them to find out if this is something that could be tapped when developing ideas to accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

Photo of Anja Kantowsky
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The reasons for their particular passion for making fire:
  • The warmth is different, not so "sterile" it's sensual
  • The smell!!
  • My father also likes a fire but even more he likes to do everything in connection with it: cutting the wood, pilling it up, checking if it can already be used. "I know the origin and age of every single log I'm burning, it went through my hands several times, I piled it up several times before I use it"
  • my partner likes the magic of the transformation - that a log is burning, glowing and in the end there are only these light ashes
  • They both get a lot of satisfaction to get a fire burning strongly within a short timeframe - it's an art they say

My father is convinced "fascination for fire is something deeply rooted in human nature". My partner adds "it's something archaic!".

Please indicate which type of energy is most relevant to this post

  • My post doesn't mention a specific type of energy


Join the conversation:

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Hi Anja - I love your post and the fact that you got out and talked to people about their motivations and energy use. I agree there is something deep-rooted in us that is drawn to fire. Do your father and partner both use wood to heat their homes? What do you think it would take for them to switch to another energy source, considering their deep connection to wood burning?

Photo of Meena Kadri

And what renewable energy source might they be helped to form a deeper (emotional?)connection with? Would be interesting to know what they actually think when presented with options like wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal, etc.

Photo of Anja Kantowsky

They both use wood as an "extra" source to heat their homes. If it's particularly cold or on special occasions (e.g. with friends around a fire) they light a fire.
My father even turns off his regular heating when he is feeling restless or moody - lighting the oven gives him peace of mind.
It's hard to think of anything that is as sensational - curious if anyone has an idea?

Photo of Jes Simson

Hey Anja, I love how connected your father feels with the energy that he produces. I imagine that he is much more mindful of his use and enjoys it more because of how connected he is with every aspect of the energy production process.

I spend a year as a teenager living semi-off the grid. We had to chop wood for all heating and hot water. You really appreciate a hot shower when that shower involved collecting and chopping firewood, carefully drying out and storing that firewood and then getting up at the crack of dawn to light and tend to the boiler fire.

Photo of Anja Kantowsky

Jes, great add on on this - yes, the mindfulness is one effect of the direct connection to producing one's own energy.
An additional thought in that vein: Once you dig into the art of making a decent fire, you get another look on many things, it becomes a science: Already my children are collecting and drying pinecones and birchrind as they know that these are great firestarters. We even have a little box for nutshells as you can use them to re-vive a dying fire.
Now imagine off-grid communities - they surely have a body of wisdom and connectedness to energy that could get this challenge to the next level - if taken into account and combined with smart ideas!

Photo of Jes Simson

Great add Anja, yes - once you are empowered with the knowledge about what you can do with wasted resources, you are much more inclined to use those resources at your disposal. It also goes to show that you are probably more likely to act on information where there is a personal upside. For your children, this means saving nutshells, pinecones and birchrind to make and enjoy better fires. For communities, this might mean using unused space to produce energy, or joining together to collectively purchase renewable energy at a reduced rate ... it's a great provocation and I can't wait to see where it goes during the Ideas phase.