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Human beings have used fireplaces for heat and security since before the beginning of recorded history. This is not surprising, since it has been said that the discovery of fire is second only in importance to the discovery of language – and fireplaces are a simple, effective and convenient way to control and contain a fire within the comfort of your home, whether it is a cave or a mansion.

The earliest fireplaces were made up of some stones, and potentially a hole in the roof of the structure to allow smoke to vent skyward. You can imagine how effective such a system would be. Although very simple and low tech, such techniques yielded proportionate effectiveness, with a very inefficient burn, tremendous indoor air pollution, and dirt and ash everywhere.

For a long time, fireplaces were simply a necessity. People knew how they were built, it was done a certain way, and it just worked as well as could be expected. In the 18 th century, fireplaces began to become more than a simple necessity – they began to become the centerpiece of a home, an aesthetic as well as a practical fixture. In this time period, new materials and methods of construction and manufacturing were being discovered. Abraham Darby established new methods of smelting, making newer, stronger metals – thus, iron was discovered. Since iron is so large and heavy, it must be heated to very high temperatures and poured into a large mould or cast and allowed to harden - hence the name "cast-iron". Fireplaces made with this material were more resilient than the previous stone or plaster fireplaces, and they radiated heat more easily because of the metal's ability to absorb large amounts of heat energy without cracking or chipping.

*author: www.fireplacesandwoodstoves.com/

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