This past fall, I convinced Missus JB that we should spend a few bucks to have the chimney inspected, the damper cleaned and serviced, and so forth, with the intent that we'd be able to use the fireplace. It's a nice backup plan should the power go out (as has been known to happen) and just a general comforting piece... give me a crackling fire, a wee dram of Dalwhinne 15 year old scotch, and a book, and I'm content for hours.
The midwest winter made an appearance Thursday night/Friday morning, when the temps dropped into the teens and a inch or so of snow fell. Nothing major, really, but it did make for a brisk morning.
Yesterday, I decided to build a fire, just to ensure that it works safely. I, however, found myself at a lack of newspaper for starting said fire, and not of a mind to drive to the gas station to buy one.
Improvising a bit, I cut a couple cups from a cardboard egg carton and proceeded to the garage. There I gathered some of the old wood shaving bedding we used for the rat's cage (before the rat met her untimely demise) and packed them into the egg carton cups. I gave the wood shavings a splash of white gas -- camp stove fuel -- and let it soak through. Carried them into the fireplace, built a layer of kindling over it, small pieces at the bottom and getting bigger as I built it.
A flame from the lighter to the egg cups, and they worked marvelously well. Held the flame MUCH longer than any newspaper would last, and seemed to burn hotter too. My fire was full of life in short order, and the egg cups just burned away to ash.
I think I might play around with the idea some more, coating the outside of the egg cup with wax, so the white gas doesn't evaporate and stays in the wood shavings. Maybe add a wick and use as a backpacking candle.