Whether you have a traditional masonry fireplace, insert, or stove–if it burns wood, you need to select the best wood possible. When you choose the right firewood, it will not only heat better, but will also produce less soot, creosote, and ash to dirty your chimney system. Start now, and you can have a good supply of properly-seasoned firewood in time for burn season.
Your wood should be properly seasoned to burn efficiently and safely. This means it’s been chopped down, cut to length, split, and stored for 3-6 months (sometimes longer). When a tree is felled for wood, it has a high concentration of water in microscopic tubes that help the plant to grow. This is considered “green” or “wet” wood. Green wood is hard to light, burns incompletely, and produces less heat. The tree should be chopped up and split in order for these tubes to have access to sunlight and air to properly dry. Once the wood has less water content (less than 20 percent), it will light easier and burn hotter, will be lighter to carry, will produce less ash, and will deposit less creosote on the flue walls.
You’ll find when you burn properly seasoned wood that you’ll:
– use less wood to reach a desired temperature
– need less frequent service appointments, and
– will have less ashes to empty, dispose of or store.
Choosing the Type of Wood
Not all wood is created equal–even when it’s seasoned. As wood burns, it produces energy in the form of heat, measured in BTUs. The hardest species of wood produce the highest number of BTUs, creating the most heat for the same amount of wood. For instance, a full cord of Rock Elm can produce 32,000 BTUs, compared with the softer species of Balsam Fir which produces 15,500 BTUs. Knowing your wood species may help you choose the best type of wood from your own supply. However, if you’re buying firewood, you may not have this freedom.
Buying Seasoned Wood
It is too late in the season to buy green wood because it will not have time to dry before you need it for your fire. Take this into consideration as you look for a good supplier. You need to look for a supplier that has seasoned firewood, and you need to visually inspect it before you make your purchase or agree to delivery.
Look for these signs that your wood is properly seasoned:
-The wood is light
-The flesh of the wood is dulled in color
-There is a hollow sound when pieces are hit together
-The bark pulls away from the wood
-There are cracks or “checks” in the edges of the wood
Keep in mind that if the wood has all the signs that it’s dry, and it still feels heavy, it is likely a harder species and is still dry. You may prefer harder species, and can determine this for yourself. Make sure that you’re getting what you want and need, and getting what you pay for.
Still have questions? Ask an expert at Northwest Fireplace and Chimney today. Call 219-413-2349 today.