Goal: Make Ziggy functional
Dilemma: I don’t want to warp the ash trap in the hearth
Solution: If I had one, I wouldn’t be asking
I need input from anyone with any fire building/hearth cooking experience. Because I’m out of my element here.
Ziggy, for those of you who don’t know, is the cooking fireplace in my dining room. The former owners left the crane in place, so we’re ready to go as soon as certain conditions have been met. The first one is a supply of seasoned firewood, and only time will take care of that. The load of wood we just got is VERY green. Beggars can’t be choosers, and I’m glad to have it, but it’s completely unsuited for Ziggy at this point in the space/time continuum. However that situation is solved by waiting. The biggest problem is the ash trap.
Everything I’ve read tells me that for hearth cooking you need to build the fire directly on the hearth, not in a grate. Makes sense – you want a nice hot slow-burning bed of coals, so you only want oxygen getting to one side. The problem is that Ziggy has a metal ash trap built in, and my husband tells me (from unfortunate prior experience) that if you build a fire directly on that there is a good chance that the metal will warp from the heat and never seat properly again. Despite the fact that I’ll never use said trap, there’s no reason to break it. Maybe it will be okay, but maybe it won’t. I doubt it could be replaced easily.
So how do I protect the metal fitting and still lay a fire directly on the hearth? I’ve only had two thoughts so far. The first is to dry-fit an extra layer of fire brick over the top to cover it over. There might need to be some chiseling to get everything to lie flat, but I could probably do that. This was actually my initial plan, but my first choice place to get the fire brick dried up. There are a couple more places I could get it if that’s the right choice. It’ll look a little odd, but I’m not real worried about the appearance.
My second idea is to start by laying down a thick bed of ashes, and then lay the fire on that. The ashes will definitely insulate, I just don’t know how much. This has two things going for it: first that everything I read says that you need a good bed of ashes, and second that ashes are cheap and easy to come by – we take buckets full out of the wood stove. That idea is appealing in its simplicity, but I don’t know if it’s realistic or not.
Anyone? Thoughts, ideas, suggestions? I’ve poked around on the internet, but so far I haven’t found anything helpful. That’s not to say it isn’t out there – I just haven’t found it.