A couple weeks ago I had some friends over for an early evening BBQ on the shore of a thawed out Lake Champlain. As the sun descended over New York we thought it would be a good idea to start a fire in the homemade fire pit, which is little more than the rusted bottom 1/4 of a metal barrel.

While there was no shortage of washed up branches to burn in our impromptu bonfire, the brevity of their contributions left us spending more time feeding the fire than enjoying it.

That is, until I remembered the Enviro-Logs.

Sent to me by the company for review a couple months earlier, I hadn’t had the chance to burn the two “manufactured firelogs” over the winter, so they collected a bit of dust near my desk.

The first beach bonfire of the year seemed as good a place as any to test out the Enviro-Logs.

Now before I go into my review of the product, first let me say that I was raised in a drafty home in NH heated only by a single woodstove on the first floor. My parents are classic New England penny-pinchers who keep the wintertime thermostat set at 58 degrees. I learned early on to build and appreciate a good woodstove fire, particularly since my room was the farthest away from the stove.

An Enviro-Log–or any manufactured firelog, for that matter–would not have flown in my house. “Too expensive,” my parents would have said. “What’s wrong with real wood?”

And to be fair to them, I’d have to agree. Blame it on the seed they planted, but I’ve always had a hard time with the thought of burning a “fake log” in a fire. It seemed like…cheating.

But then I unwrapped and threw that first Enviro-Log from the two-pack into the struggling firepit (accompanied by some snickering, I will say. Have you seen an Enviro-log?) With the audible gasp that went up from our little crew you’d have thought it the Fourth of July. WHOOSH! Our meager little flame became a roaring inferno that lasted many, many minutes, sending blessed heat waves over our shivering bodies. As any fire-lover would tell you, the best part about having a firepit or bonfire is sitting and watching the flame. We humans are fascinated with fire. The Enviro-log did not disappoint in this department. As a firelog made from 100% recycled old waxed corrugated cardboard (that was otherwise destined for a landfill), the Enviro-log looks like a patchwork of multi-colored fragments all pressed tightly together into a log shape. As the log burns, layers peel back to reveal more patchwork, which burns and peels back again. And so on. It’s a slightly different colored flame that burns with a consistent intensity–something it has over real wood, in my opinion. And the burn just seemed to last forever. It inspired me to whip out my iPhone and film the event, which, admittedly, isn’t very exciting. But at least you get to watch a fire for half a minute.

So that’s my Enviro-Log experience. I won’t get into all their comparisons to other manufactured firelogs and real wood. You can get all that on their website.

Would I use Enviro-Log again? Absolutely. Especially for an outdoor fire, which can be challenging to start and maintain in gusty conditions. Costs will vary somewhat with region, but I found a pack of 6 logs for $9.99 online. Sure, it’s more than a buck a log, but can you really put a price on a successful outdoor BBQ and beach bonfire?

Have you used Enviro-Log or any other manufactured firelog before? What’s your take?