First, then, remove the covers, and gather all ashes and cinders from the inside top of the stove, into the grate. Now put on the covers; shut the doors; close all the draughts, and dump the contents of the grate into the pan below. In some stoves there is an under-grate, to which a handle is attached; and, this grate being shaken, the ashes pass through to the ash-pan, and the cinders remain in the grate. In that case, they can simply be shoveled out into the extra coal-hod, all pieces of clinker picked out, and a little water sprinkled on them. If all must be dumped together, a regular ash-sifter will be required, placed over a barrel which receives the ashes, while the cinders remain, and are to be treated as described.
Into the grate put shavings or paper, or the fat pine known as lightwood. If the latter be used, paper is unnecessary. Lay on some small sticks of wood, crossing them so that there may be a draught through them; add then one or two sticks of hard wood, and set the shavings or paper on fire, seeing that every draught is open. As soon as the wood is well on fire, cover with about six inches of coal, the smaller, or nut-coal, being always best for stove use. When the coal is burning brightly, shut up all the dampers save the slide in front of the grate, and you will have a fire which will last, without poking or touching in any way, four hours. Even if a little more heat is needed for ovens, and you open the draughts, this rule still holds good.
Never, for any reason, allow the coal to come above the edge of the fire-box or lining. If you do, ashes and cinders will fall into the oven-flues, and they will soon be choked up, and require cleaning. Another reason also lies in the fact that the stove-covers resting on red-hot coals soon burn out, and must be renewed; whereas, by carefully avoiding such chance, a stove may be used many years without crack or failure of any sort.
If fresh heat is required for baking or any purpose after the first four hours, let the fire burn low, then take off the covers, and with the poker from the bottom rake out all the ashes thoroughly. Then put in two or three sticks of wood, fill as before with fresh coal, and the fire is good for another four hours or more. If only a light fire be required after dinner for getting tea, rake only slightly; then, fill with cinders, and close all the dampers. Half an hour before using the stove, open them, and the fire will rekindle enough for any ordinary purpose. As there is great difference in the “drawing” of chimneys, the exact time required for making a fire can not be given.