Keeping the Home Fires Burning

We had fireplaces in a few of our homes in the US. But never needed any of them for heat. They were really more ornamental – of course we lived in the south and it didn’t get very cold often and if it did, we had central heating. Here you depend upon your fireplace to heat your home.  Most homes here do not come with any type of central heat or air conditioning, ours included.

This is a little over two loads of eucalyptus wood, cost per load $160 US.  We are not into winter yet but for the past two weeks have had a fire going from 8am until 8pm every day. We are becoming pretty proficient in fire starting, it is an art form all in itself.  Our other homes had gas starters or we just used those Duraflame logs that all you need to do is light a corner of the bag and voilà, you had a fire. It was a learning curve here, we found bottled kerosene in the grocery store and used rags soaked in this to start the fire.  Then a super helpful guy at the hardware store said, “why don’t you just use a tuna can under the logs”.  We are now pros at making fires, just about 1/4 cup of kerosene in the bottom of the can, place a few smaller starter logs (which they call rollos) on the grate and set the tuna can on fire. Always learning something new. Like using pine cones, but that’s another post.

To supplement the fire we have purchased several space heaters, one is a propane gas heater below:

The biggest issue with this is that it puts humidity in the air and our winters are humid enough without adding more humidity. But if we run it when the fireplace is going, it seems to be fine.

Next we bought one that looks like a radiator below:

This one filled with oil that is heated by electricity, not the best for here because electricity is very expensive.

and the last is a small heater with a fan just for the bathroom:

Also, not the greatest choice due to the cost of electricity. But it can heat the bathroom in just a few minutes. Also it blows the main fuse for the house if anything much else is running at the same time.

We also bought an electric blanket that goes on the mattress underneath the sheets and it is super snugly after just a few minutes ! I even put the pillows under there to warm up.  Next I will add the pajamas……

We have not received a full months’ electric bill yet, can’t wait to see what it will be.


9 thoughts on “Keeping the Home Fires Burning

    • Hi John and Mary, This is the first time I had seen this type of electric blanket, it really makes a difference. Have to shut if off before going to bed but it really heats up the sheets. Nancy

  1. I remember using an electric mattress pad, which made a huge difference I could then turn it off and be fine the rest of the night.
    Brrrr. I guess in another three months it will be springtime, and you won’t have to be saving tuna cans!!!!

  2. I remember my mother telling me when she was a young school teacher in Alberta in the 20s
    that would be almost a 100 years ago she would wake up and there would be ice in the wash basin
    and for lunch the lady that she lived with would give her fried oatmeal sandwiches for lunch.
    And you know where the toilet was! Those were the good old days

    • David, well we should never have temperatures that low to freeze water, I have never had a fried oatmeal sandwich but if you add some nuts and dried fruit it sounds pretty good and we do have indoor toilets, but it sure as heck is cold here already. Thanks for following and thanks for your comment, Nancy and Joe

  3. There are two types of eucalyptus, white and red (or “colorado”). Red is more expensive, but also throws more heat and burns longer. You can see both types here: There’s no mistaking them, but I’ve had people deliver white and claim it was red. Also, generally rollos are cheaper than split wood.

    The ANCAP alcohol in blue bottles costs a bit less than querosina, and is perhaps cleaner to work with, but don’t know if hot enough to get a fire going the way you build it. We splash a bit on a pinecone wrapped in newspaper or rolled up cardboard. We also tend to have plentiful kindling from woodworking projects. I’d never thought of the tuna-can idea — elegant compared to our approach!

    • Doug, first I knew there were many varieties of eucalptus here but knew nothing about white or red. In looking at my wood I still have no idea if it is red or white! I had our realtor order the wood for us, the guys who deliver just shake their heads and tell me to have my girl call they know I would not know how to tell them what I needed. This load has more of the rolls but the price was the same 4,500 peso per lina. Also, this last shopping order I got the alcohol because Tienda Inglasa did not have the querosina. I like the querosina pop that into my “elegant” tuna can and within just a few minutes I have a great roaring fire. I of course was never a girl scout and Joe was never a boy scout so we feel blessed we are able to start and keep a fire going and have not burned down the house, ha ha

      • A friend of ours managed building of the the Weyerhaeuser plywood plant in Tacuarembó (impressive operation). At one point said there were thousands of varieties of eucalyptus worldwide, but I haven’t been able to verify that.

        I got our last leña from Esso in Las Toscas (maybe mentioned in my post); and happy to pay whatever for such excellent wood. Other places wanted the same money for wood cut six months ago — ridiculous.

        I was never a Boy Scout, but camp counselor in Maine which involved learning some woodcraft skills (including fire-making; we save lint from our [luxury!] clothes drier), but I think your fire-making approach in Uruguay is brilliant.

        • Doug, we have found that the wood we are getting burns great, but we do burn a lot of it. We are coming from 11 years in a very hot climate so understand that we are cold when it hits 70….So far we have used almost 3 lena and that seems like a large amount since the cold season just started…U$S482 already…and like I said this new load has a great deal of the rolls…We have a Uruguay washer/dryer it is a strange beast, no vent to the outside it vents to the water drain, no lint catcher and it heats the clothes until they are fried…Just have never seen anything like this before. I do not use it often as it takes so much electricity and the clothes are just hot as hell but still damp, I don’t understand??? Tried to dry the bed sheets, now the bottom sheet does not fit properly,,,when I bought those sheets there was more than enough room, but just once in the dryer and they have shrunk…so much to learn, so much to get used to and still maintain a smile and a good attitude, ja ja We will see how good my fire making skills are with the alcohol…

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