How to light a fire

This may not seem the most necessary question to consider, but actually has some implications when testing of the stoves is undertaken, and when new stove types are introduced.

In controlled testing, it is sometimes suggested that some ‘standard paper’ be used (i.e. the same each time), and the fire lit with a match. This also reduces interference from the lighting substance (rubber and kerosene in particular) when doing emissions measurements for air pollution.

Using paper is fine for lighting most fires. Things may become more difficult when dealing with a fire where the traditional method must change due to the way that the fire has to be operated and / or lit.

This is for example the case for the TL (top lit) stoves which have to be lit from the top. Typically with a three stone fire and other commonly used stove types, the lit material is placed at the bottom so fuel above will catch fire. So other methods were observed in Cambodia, including using resin (this is common and is widely purchased), using a piece of tyre, using plastic. In India ARTI have produced wax strips (newspaper covered in wax – menkandi – sold 15 Rupees per pack) and are especially useful for lighting the Sarai cooker.

ARTI advise Sampanda users to adopt the Paul Anderson method of dipping 5-10 sticks (this must be part of the weighed bundle for controlled testing) into a jar of kerosene to begin the fire. This is a fail-safe method, and is also good for testing since starts the fire quickly – which reduces the amount of fuel wasted during the ignition phase.

But whichever method is chosen, it may not work well. A fire may not light or take well due to damp fuel, windy conditions, bad stove design (!), incorrect fuel type, or perhaps an unknown reason – sometimes fire just does not do what you want it to do!

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