May 20, 2024

Fire was one of the most frequently used discoveries in the entire world and this lead to the invention of the fireplace. Taking into account the five Chinese elements: Fire, Wood, Land, Metal and Water, it may be easy to recognize that a fireplace includes all of these. The fireplace has existed ever since fire could be lit up inside a room, with a hole in the roof, but the first fireplaces seemed to have been built in the Roman Empire and only the rich citizens could afford one. At the beginning, they were built from stone but because of very high temperature, it had to be changed very often.

Later on, when people started manufacturing the iron extract, they changed the way the fireplaces were built. Some iron slabs were placed on the walls of the fireplace in order to protect it. Until 1624, no other significant changes had been made, until the architect Louis Savot, who was working at the Louvre, invented and developed a type of fireplace in which the air was drawn through some passages under the hearth and behind the fire grate, being discharged into the room through a grill in the mantel.

In the following centuries, the fireplace became a necessity. Its development seemed to flourish during the Victorian period. In addition, the necessity mentioned before blended with the esthetic side and the simple fireplace turned into real pieces of art that could inspire the stonemasons nowadays. In fact, famous people like Benjamin Franklin got involved in the development of the fireplace system. He designed a cast-iron stove which could heat the room in a more efficient way, but the problem was that the smoke spread in the room. This system of the fireplace in the center of the room was improved by Franklin himself and he got the patent for this invention.

Still, the one who perfected the invention was David Rittenhouse who added a pipe bent at 90 degrees to the back of the stove which was meant to direct the smoke out of a chimney. Another person interested in the “smoking chimneys in London” was Count Rumford, also known as Benjamin Thompson. His fireplace was much taller than the other designs and it helped a lot at the removal of the smoke.

At present, there are so many types of fireplaces and they use different fuels. From the classical wood, the fireplaces also managed to swallow the natural gas. The latter has a great advantage as there is no more ash and the burden of buying wood is long forgotten. It is said that nothing compares to the flicker of dancing flames provided by a fireplace. But nowadays there are gas logs that look so much like the real ones and everybody can enjoy the atmosphere created by it.