Tip Tuesday – An Experience That Turned Into Real-World Lessons

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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.

A Chimney Sweep several chimneys

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.

 

 

Creosote fire burning in fireplace

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!

 

 

What I Wish I knew Then  wrong way sign

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.

 

I Did A Little Research glasses and book

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.

 

Real-World Lessons  world painted on hands

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.

 

The Alternative herbs and plants

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.

 

Life’s Lessons Continue test tubes

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.

 

Final Thoughts kids

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!

 

 

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16 thoughts on “Tip Tuesday – An Experience That Turned Into Real-World Lessons”

  1. Travis says:

    Wow I would never have even thought that burning a creosote log could have those negative effects. I hope you were feeling better soon! We just bought a house as well and this is the first time we have had a wood burning fireplace, so I will need to investigate what our options are. Thank you for sharing! 

    1. admin says:

      Hi, Travis!  Please look into it!  And if you get a creosote log, please make sure you’re not around when it’s burning!  Tough lesson to learn, but I hope it helps someone avoid my experience!  I felt better by the next evening, but it wasn’t fun at all!  Good luck to you!

  2. Donny says:

    Hello i hope you and the kiddos are doing fine and you won’t be getting any more of those head aches anymore, good for me I don’t remember the last time I had a serious one. I’ve always been scared of home schooling kids because of the syllabus and differences that may be found wjen compared with traditional schooling but I’m sure home schooling would be quite an advantage at times. I’m however starting to think of joining an online university pretty soon to avoid getting distracted from my businesses and cutting costs.

    1. admin says:

      Hello, Donny!  Thank you for visiting!  It was quite the experience, but totally worth it to have the conversations I had with my littles!  They’re so intuitive and pick up on the little things.  We’re learning a lot more about one another after having spent so much of our time together!  It works for us!  I hope you find something for you that eliminates distractions!  Blessings!

  3. Benson says:

    Your story has a lot to learn from and truly so many messages have been passed crossed. I know how it feels to move into a new apartment and see some things you don’t have in the previous one, it can be quite overwhelming some times. It’s quite lucky enough that you took cognizance creosote being the cause of the headache for your research and getting rid of it. There are so many many issue around us today which are caused form the usage of some of these small things we have failed to identify. Thanks for sharing your experience with a creosote.

    1. admin says:

      Hey, Benson!  I appreciate you taking the time to read and comment today!  You’re absolutely right in that when we move to different homes, we need to be aware of potential dangers and try our best to prevent them.  Cheerio, my friend!  Thanks for stopping by!

  4. Anjali says:

    Hello,

    Congratulations on making your initial burn of the season. It must be a fun experience for you and your kids. I have zero experiences with wood burning fireplaces. So Its good to know that the excessive buildup of creosote could cause a chimney fire. And yes I have to agree that almost everything we consume has chemicals these days. It’s good to stay away from them. But if it’s hard I think at least we should know about harmful chemicals and how we should keep ourselves from getting exposed to them.

    1. admin says:

      I agree, my friend!  Chemicals are all around us.  This experience led to a wonderful discussion between myself and the kids.  We were all learning things that day, and bless their little minds!  They are still curious about toxins and ingredients!  It was a terrific lesson that we will still continue to discuss in the days to come!  Homeschooling is a wonderful thing!  I’m happy that you were informed of the hazards of creosote!  Be careful if you ever end up having a wood-burning fireplace!! 

  5. Strahinja says:

    Interesting article. My parents did something similar when I was young. I was not homeschooled but my parents often gave me lessons about life and nature in home our when we were outside. I still remember one lesson about temperature, when I was too curious why my parents forbid me to touch the stove. Then they heated the stove a little bit and let me touch. 

    After that I never questioned why my parents forbnid me something.

    Strahinja

    1. admin says:

      Isn’t it fantastic what we can learn while spending time at home?  I am beyond blessed to be able to hang with my darlings all day. Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment!  

  6. Carol5162 says:

    Unfortunately, it takes a serious or dangerous events in life to open up our eyes to our unsafe realities. Sometimes we have little choice in product selection and their level of poison. Thank God for companies like Young Living that have made efforts to eliminate chemical inputs in products. We have all learnt from your chimney experience. Thank you for these great insights

    1. admin says:

      Hi, Carol!  Welcome!  Unfortunately, you’re right; it takes a serious event like this to even discuss it.  However, the kiddos and I were able to learn a lot in our research.  It’s been great aftermath of the original situation!  Thank you for visiting!  I appreciate your comment!  Blessings!

  7. DreaJay says:

    Who knew that creosote burning can be so detrimental and come with such negative impacts, I really hope all is fine now, I mean with you and the kids after that experience, thanks for sharing your experience in order to teach others not to fall into the same mistake you made but I’m happy you were able to device you lessons from it. Thanks for sharing it, I’ve learned a couple of things from it.

    1. admin says:

      I know, right?  I never knew until BAM – headache the next day!  Things are fine, but it took a while to dissipate.  I’ve learned a lesson, and in turn, so did the kiddos!  Not all was lost!  Thank you for stopping by.  I appreciate it!

  8. Wildecoll says:

    First, I’ll like to say a very big well-done to you for putting this whole together, it will be of immense help to so many people including me. I’ve gained a lot from your experience with the kids and the burning of creosote, it’s always nice to consider safety first. I’m happy you learned that in no time. It’s always advisable to hire someone who knows about the firewood burning place, I mean the chimney and to check it out. Thanks for the other suggestion you gave if you don’t happen to have the luxury of such, learn it yourself by getting detailed information about it by getting books and research. Thanks for sharing this informative article, it’s of great help.

    1. admin says:

      I’m so glad you gained some valuable insight from this post!  I just don’t want it to happen to anyone else.  We will definitely be on the lookout for a chimney sweep – who does just that for a living!  Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!  Cheers!

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