Fire has been one of the major, most remarkable and breakthrough discoveries made by early human beings. The ability to control and use the fire, which is one of the most powerful natural forces, has brought about significant developments and progress in the history of mankind. It was during the Early Stone Age man invented fire or more precisely, invented how to generate and control fire. Fire has been useful in many ways even to the early man; it helped him stay warm, cook food, offered protection from animals, and served as a source of light. Humans also developed immense resistance to the pollutants in the air after the discovery of fire. A more gruesome use of fire is its use as a method to punish and torture people in the past. It was also used in landscaping which helped in the efficient use of land and in several other agricultural practices.
Fire as Fuel
Since its discovery, fire has played a major role in the daily lives of almost every human being. Fire has multiple uses, in simple terms fire is used by each and every human being on a day-to-day basis in a controlled environmental setting. Burning fuels with the help of fire helps to release energy which can be used in innumerable ways. Wood is one of the prime fuels since the pre historic times which is helpful to generate fire and is still in used as a primary source in the process of fire generation. There are also other fuels which are used widely all over the world to meet the energy needs of the millions of individuals; the list includes fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and petroleum. In combustion engines (external and internal) fire helps to provide the mechanical energy which is required to operate the engines.
An architectural structure which is designed to enclose the fire for it to be used in activities such as cooking and heating of the rooms is called as a fireplace. These structures are also used in interior decorations of the house to provide added ambience and rich look and a relaxing atmosphere. The fireplace is made up of a fire pit or firebox along with a flue or chimney for the smoke to escape. The architectural structure of the fireplace can include the following: a fire pit or a fire box, a spark arrestor, hearth, foundation, mantel, ash dump door, chimney, chimney crane, a grate, a lintel & lintel bar, a chimney breast, a clean out door, over mantel, a crown and a cap. The heat efficiency of the fireplace varies from one fireplace to another.
Types of Fireplaces
Classification Based on Construction:
Fireplaces classified according to their type of construction are mentioned below:
- Masonry Fireplace– The fireplace is built by the use of stones or bricks. These fireplaces can use fuels such as biomass, natural gas, wood and propane as their fuel sources.
- Manufactured Fireplaces– These fireplaces are built by using sheets of metal fiber boxes.
- Vent less Fireplace– These fireplaces do not have any vents or ducts for the smoke escape and the amount of carbon-di-oxide emitted from these fireplaces are very minimal and hence opening a small window for a short duration of time will allow the escape of the CO2. The fuels such as liquid propane, bio-ethanol and other fuels are also used in these fire places.
Classification based on their positioning:
- Indoor Fireplaces – These are the most common types of fireplaces which are used to heat homes, apartments and other buildings as they are placed within these buildings.
- Outdoor Fireplaces– Here the fire is built outside the homes and apartments.
Outdoor Fireplaces are similar to the indoor fireplaces except for their placement. These fireplaces are mostly built with the help of bricks, stones or by using cement and concrete. An outdoor fireplace consists of a fire pit and a chimney. They require constant cleaning and timely maintenance for their efficient working. Proper maintenance such as removing of the ash build up helps to preserve the looks and working of the fireplace. Outdoor fireplaces were the most commonly used fireplace in the ancient times. It has been used for cooking, generating heat to keep human beings warm during the cold, as a source of protection from other wild animals and as a major source of light. These days, outdoor fireplaces are used for decorative purposes, during camping, partying and also for other outdoor activities.
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The various types of fuels which can be used in outdoor fireplaces include coal, wood, pellet, gas and propane. The outdoor fireplaces can be built using granites, marbles, stones, mosaic tiles, stainless steel, copper, cast iron and aluminum.