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Hello! We have had a busy couple of weeks around here! The kiddos and I were able to plan ahead our daily academic lessons so that when my parents visited for a week, we could spend the most time with them as possible. Thank you, homeschooling, for the flexibility to arrange our schedules to fit our lifestyle! In the midst of our latest move, we’ve done the normal things like clean, unpack, clean some more… And yet, the kiddos are still learning! I would even argue that the things they’ve learned at home in the past month are things they wouldn’t have learned in a traditional school setting. Before you read further, please note that this is a quick story of something that happened to me and how it turned into a fascinating teachable moment in our home.
The home we just moved into has a wood-burning fireplace. This is completely new to us. As we were researching how to best prepare for the first burn, we conducted some online searches, consulted with our smartest human friends, and in the end, got in the initial burn of the season! We didn’t hire anyone to come and check out the chimney, as it had been recently checked out.
One of the first things we did was burn a Creosote Sweeping Log. Creosote is a dark brown or black flammable tar deposited from especially wood smoke on the walls of a chimney. Basically, the excessive buildup of creosote could cause a chimney fire. Obviously, this is something to take into consideration when deciding to burn wood in your fireplace. We weren’t in the mood to take any chances, so we bought and burned a creosote sweeping log. These sweeping logs are designed to get rid of the creosote sticky deposits that form on your chimney or your chimney walls, which as mentioned, can cause chimney fires. Special chemicals are infused on the logs that release when you burn the log in your fireplace.
—-> If you need your own creosote log!
Just like everything life, hindsight is 20-20. I was so thrilled that we had our first fire going, I volunteered to sleep in the living room, in the comfort of the warm and glowing fire. Mind you, that fire was not wood, it was that of the creosote log. No big deal, right? I was just happy to have a fire and to stay warm! Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke with a terrible headache. I didn’t think anything of it until the headache woke me up again a couple of hours later. It was massive, similar to a migraine. After drinking some water and taking some pain relievers, I tried to fall back asleep but became dizzy and nauseous. Eventually, I realized that the headache must have been induced from the creosote log.
Yep. I was convinced. What I learned was that the smell of creosote can be likened to the smell of tar, and this creosote smell is easily picked up by the human nose even in small concentrations. The presence of creosote in a chimney can also result in a creosote smell throughout a home because the odor is so strong. There is something called creosote poisoning, which I found interesting, but I don’t think that’s what caused my headache. It could have been a number of things from the smoke, the chemicals on the log to help it burn, the buildup of the creosote in the chimney, etc. Whatever it was, that headache was not very pleasant. You may wish to read more about creosote here.
While at home with the kids during the headache of the century, we had a detailed discussion on chemicals. My kiddos haven’t been exposed to many chemicals in their little lifetimes, as I try to avoid them at all costs. Unfortunately, it is absolutely impossible to shield them from everything. How I would love to place them in bubble wrap and find a way to guarantee they’re not exposed to chemicals. The kiddos and I discussed the many products that have chemicals in them that they (nor I) even thought about. Our list grew to things like lotions, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste, ingredients in foods, etc. They were shocked to learn of these things.
About six years ago, I became interested in eliminating those products from our home that are chemically laden. I ditched nearly all of our lotions, soaps, chapsticks, etc. I researched alternative options and found a company called Young Living. They plant, grow, and distill their own plants to create a line of essential oils. We have used these oils for years and have since replaced the chemically-filled products with those that come from Young Living. I purchase essential oils, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, dish soap, laundry detergent, and hand soap from Young Living on a regular basis. They now have a makeup line and very recently, have added CBD oils to their list of products! If you’re interested in checking them out, please see this post, where I discuss Young Living as well as essential oil diffusers.
While it was necessary for us to burn the creosote log, it provided a wonderful lesson for my little darlings. We were able to explore products that are chemically-laden and we discussed the alternatives. This has been an ongoing discussion since that day. They’ll find products on the shelves of a store and we’ll look to see what is hiding inside the ingredients. These lessons and discussions are so much fun. I highly doubt there would have been a discussion of creosote in the traditional school setting that day.
If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, please be cautious and take care of your chimney. Of course, the best option would be to hire someone who knows what he is doing to come and clear away all creosote. If you don’t have that luxury, get yourself a creosote log. It’s better to do something versus nothing. It would be terrible for an unnecessary fire to creep out of your chimney in the middle of a cold winter night. I would advise not to sleep in the same part of the house where you’re burning the creosote log. If you do, you may end up in a situation similar to mine, but hey, you might also have a teaching opportunity then! What lessons have you learned lately, fireplace related, life lessons, or otherwise? Leave a comment below and share your experience with us!
Live Your Best Life,