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How to Prevent Your Firewood from Rotting

axe-1705787_960_720With prices upwards of $100 to $200 for a full cord (depending on where you live), firewood isn’t cheap. If you burn it on a regular basis — for warmth, fire pits, campfires, cooking, etc — you can spend quite a fortune. But even cutting and harvesting your own firewood is no easy task, which is why it’s important to protect your firewood from rotting.

Whether you buy it or harvest it yourself, it’s frustrating when you discover a pile of rotten firewood. It doesn’t burn as well (if at all), and it’s likely harboring colonies of insects and pests.

The 4 Elements Needed for Rot

In order for wood to rot, it needs four things: moisture, wood, oxygen and warmth. Being that moisture, oxygen and warmth are all around us, it’s easy to see why rot is such a problem. There’s practically no way to prevent natural, unprocessed wood from the rotting. Thankfully, though, there are a few steps you can take to slow down the process and prolong the life of your firewood.

Store it Off the Ground

One of the most common mistakes made when storing firewood is placing it directly on the ground. Why is this a problem? Well, there’s lots of moisture sitting in the soil. And when you place firewood directly on the ground, some of that moisture seeps up and into the wood. Furthermore, storing firewood directly on the ground increases the risk of termites, which can be equally as destructive.

How do you keep firewood off the ground? There are several solutions, one of which is to build a square-shaped perimeter using some pressure-treated 4×4 lumber. Another idea is to place a wooden pallet underneath your firewood stack. As long as it’s not sitting directly on the ground, it shouldn’t absorb moisture from the soil.

Increase Airflow

You can also prolong the life of your firewood and discourage rotting by storing it in a well-ventilated area. If you have a shed, for instance, crack a window so air doesn’t become stagnant. The increased airflow helps to dry firewood, protecting it from rot.

Cover it with a Tarp

In addition to storing it off the ground and in a ventilated area, cover your firewood with a tarp. Something as simple as a cheap fiberglass tarp can make a world of difference in prolonging the life of your firewood.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Choosing the Right Area to Build a Campfire

fire-1633352_960_720No camping experience is complete without a fire. Campfires bring people together, promote a social environment, provide warmth, and they offer a means of cooking food. However, you should carefully choose the right location to build a campfire, which is something we’re going to discuss in today’s blog post.

Overhanging Limbs and Brush

When choosing a location to build a campfire, make sure there are no overhanging tree limbs, branches or brush. Even if the flame doesn’t reach the height of an overhanging tree limb, it may produce enough heat to ignite it — or a stray ember could float into the air and reach the overhanging branch.

Check Fire Restrictions

It’s always a good idea to research the local and state fire restrictions before camping. Even if it’s legal to build a fire in your backyard, perhaps the park or forest where you intend to camp prohibits campfires due to the risk of a wildfire. Some parks allow campfires, but only in designated camping areas. Failure to follow these rules could cost you big bucks in fines, so find out if there are any fire restrictions beforehand.

Existing Fire Rings

Depending on where exactly you are camping, there may be existing fire rings around. Other campers often build and leave circular-shaped arrangements of rocks in which to build campfires. If you discover one of these fire rings, consider building your campfire here.

Don’t Build at Base of Hills

You should also avoid building campfires at the base of a hill. If your campfire grows out of control, it can travel uphill fast. This is because heat rises, so fires naturally gravitate upwards. Ideally, you should build your fire either on top of a hill or on a flat and even surface, either of which is a safer solution than building it at the bottom of a hill.

Beware of Duff

What is duff and why should you avoid when building a campfire? Duff is the layer of rotting, decomposing material between the ground soil and pine needles. To an unsuspecting camper, duff may appear to be nothing more than dirt. However, it often contains dry wood and plant material, providing enough fuel to turn a small ember into a smoldering brush fire. Choose a location for your campfire that’s away from duff.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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How to Prevent Steaks from Sticking to Grill.

Rib Eyes Cooking03There’s nothing quite like the taste of a home-cooked steak. Whether it’s tenderloins, sirloins, rib-eyes or New York strips, grilled steaks are always a hit at outdoor parties. But there’s one thing you need to be aware of when grilling steaks: keeping the meat from sticking to the grill.

While this doesn’t always happen, steaks, chicken, pork chops and other meat may stick to the grill. When you attempt to pull it off, the seasoned and charred exterior separates from the meat, releasing its juices. So, how do you prevent this from happening?

Clean the Grill Grate

You can often prevent stuck meat by cleaning your grill grate on a regular basis. When food particles harden on the grate, they may stick to the meat the next time you cook. To clean the grate, wait until your grill has warmed up and scrub it down with a wire grill brush. This should make easy work of even the toughest food particles, leaving your grill nice and clean.

Apply Oil

In addition to maintaining a clean grill grate, you can also prevent stuck food by rubbing a small amount of oil on it. Before placing your steaks on the grill, brush a generous amount of olive oil or vegetable oil on the grate. Some people prefer traditional vegetable oil, while others prefer the more nutritious olive oil. Regardless, any type of cooking oil should suffice for this purpose. Applying it the grate creates a barrier between the steaks and the grill, preventing them from sticking.

Non-Stick Spray

Alternatively, you can always use a non-stick spray to keep your steaks from sticking to the grill, such as PAM. They typically contain vegetable oil, but offer the added benefit of convenience since they are in a spray bottle. Keep in mind, however, that you should only use non-stick sprays before lighting your grill, while the grill is still cold. Many non-stick sprays are flammable, and using them on a hot grill could turn an otherwise enjoyable backyard barbecue into a fire hazard.

Aluminum Foil

A fourth option is to place your steaks on a piece of aluminum foil, after which you can place them on the grill grate. Meat doesn’t stick to aluminum foil like it does a grill. The only problem with this method, however, is that it lacks the distinct smokey/charred flavor as grilling your steaks directly on the grate.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/

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Grilling Tips: How to Tell When Steaks are Done

steak-1076665_960_7202Ask any professional chef and he or she will agree: the most important part of grilling a steak is ensuring it’s not overcooked. When cooked too long, steaks become tough and dry, making them less appealing than their juicy counterparts. This is why many steak connoisseurs prefer their meat cooked medium-rare, which has a warm red center throughout.

Unfortunately, though, knowing when a grilled steak is done isn’t always easy. You can always cut into the center with a knife to inspect the color. The problem in doing so is that it releases the juices. And if your steak isn’t cooked all the way, you’ll have to place it the cut-up meat back on the grill, further drying it out.

The OK Sign Test

One of the oldest home methods for checking to see if a grilled steak is done involves making the “OK” sign with your fingers. Go ahead and touch your index finger with your thumb. Using your other hand, press down on the area between your index finger thumb (where you made the OK sign). Take notice of how soft this part of your hand is, and compare it to your steak. If you want a rare steak, it should feel exactly like this. If you want a medium-rare steak, it should feel just bit firmer. And for a medium steak, it should feel even more firm.

The Face Test

Another method to tell when your steak is done is to compare its tenderness to that of your face. A medium-rate steak should have the tenderness of your cheeks, while a medium steak should like your chin. And a medium-well steak should like your forehead. Of course, this is just a rule of thumb, and this isn’t the most accurate method.

Thermometer

The most accurate way to tell when a steak is done cooking is to use a meat thermometer. Yes, you’ll have to pierce the steak, which releases some of its juices. But this is by far the most accurate way to tell when your steak is done cooking. Rare steaks should be roughly 125-130 degrees; medium-rare steaks should be 135-140 degrees; medium steaks should be 145-150 degrees; medium-well steaks should be 155-160 degrees; and well-done steaks should be 165+ degrees. You really can’t go wrong with using a meat thermometer.

If you have any questions regarding how an S&S Fire Pit can enhance your outdoor living space; We can help.  https://ssfirepits.com/contact/