While they might all seem the same, not all woods are created equal! Even the most well maintained fireplaces can be impacted by the kind of firewood that is used; choosing the wrong firewood can result in smokier fires, increased creosote buildup, and lower burning efficiency. We recommend that all of our clients choose seasoned firewood for their wood burning heating appliances.
Seasoned firewood is not one specific variety of wood – and is certainly not wood that salt and pepper has been added to! Instead, seasoned firewood is wood that has been cut into logs, stacked, and exposed to the elements to dry for at least six months. All firewood, from hardwoods like oak to soft woods like pine, should be seasoned before being used in wood burning fireplaces and stoves.
The seasoning process
Freshly cut firewood has an extremely high moisture content; most “green” firewood is made up of between 40-50% water. When burned, this firewood hisses, pops, and cracks as the water is forced to evaporate before the wood can burn; fires made with green firewood burn at lower temperatures, are harder to ignite, create more smoke, and cause increased creosote buildup in the flue.
Seasoning firewood removes the majority of the moisture from the wood; firewood that is well-seasoned will be left with only 10-20% water. With less water in the wood, fires can ignite quickly, burn hotter, and last longer.
How to tell if wood has been seasoned
While homeowners can season their own firewood, many of us lack the time – or the storage space – to chop, cut, and store wood for the entire seasoning process. Whether you are preparing to season your own wood or are buying wood from a retailer, the following can help you tell the difference between green wood and seasoned wood.
– Weight. Freshly cut wood is heavier than seasoned wood because of the much higher moisture content.
– Sound. Hitting two seasoned logs together should make a hollow “clunk” noise; hitting together two pieces of freshly cut wood will make a loud “thud”.
– Appearance. Wood that is freshly cut has a darker color and smooth ends; the ends of the logs may appear wet as moisture and sap begins to evaporate. Well-seasoned wood will lighten to a light brown or gray color with large cracks or splits that form as the wood dries.
Storing your seasoned firewood
Properly storing seasoned firewood ensures you will have plenty of usable firewood for the entire burning season. Wood should always be cut into small logs before stacking; this helps make firewood stacks more manageable while also hastening the seasoning process. Store wood in a rack that sits off the ground to prevent moisture – and bugs and rodents – from affecting the wood. Lastly, cover the top of the wood stack while leaving the sides open; this prevents most moisture from seeping down into the wood, while open sides encourages air flow to prevent rot.
Burning the right firewood can help you have better fires this winter. For more information on seasoning firewood or to schedule your next chimney sweeping or inspection, contact Coopertown Services today!