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Keepers of the Flame Worldwide

Oct 29

What my Dad taught me about starting a fire

Many years ago my Dad taught me the state of the art of starting a fire.

Living in Pittsburgh It usually involved folding several pages of newspaper and waving it like a fan at the coals. My Dad explained that he was fanning air into the coals because all a fire needs to grow is the oxygen in our air.

OK. Got it. 

That was the state of the art when I was a kid. And it stayed that way for decades.

I'm a pretty impatient person so waiting for a charcoal grill to be up to cooking temp or waiting for the wood in our fireplace to catch were never my idea of fun. 

I even gave up charcoal grilling when our kids were young and switched to propane. Ugh. It was faster than the 20-30 minutes I used to wait for charcoal, but the flavor just wasn't there. I finally switched back to charcoal once I developed FiAir. I was never able to cook immediately with my gas grill. It usually took 7 minutes or so go heat up the box and grilling grate. With FiAir, I'm usually cooking in 8-12 minutes, so I don't feel like I'm very far behind people who grill with gas. I now have the State of the Art in my hand at my charcoal grill -- and that IS my idea of fun.

With our wood fireplaces, I now just ball up several pages of newspaper and FiAir gets the logs blazing in just a couple of minutes. Compared to bending, waving and blowing FiAir turns that chore into more fun. I love the sights and sounds of a real wood fire in the fireplace — especially when I can start it so fast without the bending. Yeeha! 

Jul 31

How many fires will I get from fresh batteries in my FiAir?

FiAir uses 3 AAA batteries and the number of fires you can get out of them is a moving target since each person will find his or her own way to use it. But that's not all.

You don't really have to run FiAir for a very long time per fire. It may be only a total of 5 minutes for an evening of wood fire. Charcoal fires are harder to figure because people start them in so many ways and other variables, but we figure an average of about 5 minutes per charcoal fire depending on -- well, you'll see the variables below.

A new set of single use (not rechargeable) Alkaline batteries will drive about 50 - 60 minutes of effective use. That estimate is based on a cumulative total of about 5 minutes of FiAir usage per fire and an overnight rest for the batteries to recover. The batteries are working pretty hard to get so much airflow through such a small device.

Your results will vary depending on:

  • how often you use FiAir
  • the type of fuel you're using (Charcoal is far more demanding than wood; briquets more demanding than Natural Wood Lump charcoal)
  • how long you need to keep the fire going
  • what type and amount of food you're cooking
  • outdoor temperature
  • how hard it's raining or snowing

FiAir is fun and very easy to OVER use!

It's kind of like Miles Per Gallon (MPG) in your car.

If you have a heavy foot and peel out from every stop light, your MPG won't be so good. With FiAir, if you have a heavy thumb and want to keep adding air to the fire just for the fun of it, you'll get shorter battery life (and use more fuel). So, take the time to learn how YOU use FiAir for your purposes and adjust accordingly. But, this is a tool meant to add enjoyment to the task of fire making. So - enjoy!

Jul 17

First Blog Post: What sparked FiAir?

In a word: Impatience

I love the taste of charcoal grilled food, but hated waiting for the coals to turn white so I could start cooking. That became a real problem when the kids were young and every time we grilled, there came the repeated mantra: Is it ready yet?

We switched to a gas grill to quiet the kids and speed things up, but taste went down the tubes.

Same deal with our fireplaces. We really loved a real wood fire on a cold winter’s night, but hated the time it takes to get it going and keep it at full blaze. 

One night, I was having an especially hard time starting a fire. I finally resorted to blowing on it until I hyperventilated. As I lay recovering on the hearth, I yelled in frustration: "Why is this so hard? All it needs is AIR! 

So I grabbed our hairdryer from the bathroom, turned it on low and aimed it at the kindling. Wow. It worked almost TOO well! 

I know I'm not the first to try this trick, but it got me thinking — air really is all it takes, right? Why not make a “hairdryer”— without the heating element (no heat, no power cord) — that can direct a controlled, continuous flow of air to fire from a safe distance? Make it elegant, affordable, portable and battery powered and we’re in business. I WANTED ONE!  So I set about finding one.

I looked at every catalog that came in the mail, searched websites and roamed through every store I could think of that might carry a product to feed fires like the one I had in mind. I even bought some of them. None had the combination of features I envisioned. I wanted a sleek, lightweight, handheld tool with a battery-powered motor to create continuous airflow. Existing blowers either required users to blow into a tube, crank by hand or plug into an electric power source. I decided I'd have to make it myself.

We've been shipping over a year now and the response has been very gratifying.

I'm starting this blog to share the mountain of information I've gathered while developing FiAir and bringing it to market. Some of the topics I'll be covering:

    • Using FiAir - best practices, tips and tricks
    • How FiAir changes the Charcoal vs Gas debate
    • Grilling vs BBQ (smoking)
    • Natural Wood Lump Charcoal vs Briquettes
    • Novel ways to start a campfire
    • Ways to organize your coals
    • Fire starters to use with FiAir
    • How FiAir can help Competitive BBQers
    • Cooking for a crowd
    • Recipes, recipes, recipes
    • Other topics as the spirit moves me

I begin this blog to inform and entertain. 
Please visit often, comment freely and let me know what's on your mind.

Alan i Harris
Founding Member and FiAir Chief
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