Choosing Proper Firewood

The Importance of Seasoned Firewood

There are many important steps that an owner of a fireplace takes to maintain its functionality and safety but one of the most important things that can be done is often overlooked. The type of firewood you use can help keep your chimney clean or can be cause of very costly damage. Dry, seasoned wood is the best type of fuel to use in a wood burning fireplace. When firewood is freshly cut it can be up to 45% water. This is known as green wood. If you burn green wood in a fireplace it will have several negative effects.

Make sure the wood you purchase has been seasoned and untreated. One negative side effect of green wood is a smoky fire.

Make sure the wood you purchase has been seasoned and untreated. One negative side effect of green wood is a smoky fire.

 The first and most immediately noticeable effect burning green wood will have is a difference in the fire itself. Green firewood is much harder to get to take flame. The energy that would normally be used to burn the wood is going into the process of evaporating the moisture. This process continues even after the wood begins to take a flame. This will cause the fire to lose a lot of its heat meaning that your house will be much cooler. In addition it will produce a large amount of smoke. Contained within this smoke is the acidic vapor produced by the evaporating moisture inside the firewood. As this vapor travels up the chimney it cools off and begins to collect on the sides of the chimney in the form of a flammable film known as creosote. This process is similar to the process that takes place in a still. As the creosote builds up it increases the chances that it will catch fire which can cause massive damage to your home. At the very least it will  require that your chimney gets cleaned more frequently.

There are several ways to make sure that the wood you are burning in your fireplace is seasoned. Green wood is often heavy and dense. This is a result of the water locked away inside. It is also relatively light in color on the ends as well as appearing freshly cut. Seasoned wood will be lighter in weight and darker in color. It will also most likely have cracks and splits. Unlike most things we buy these cracks are actually beneficial. While the help to determine the age and quality of the wood they also increase the surface area allowing for a quicker start to your fire and a hotter burn. The most effective way to ensure that your wood is properly seasoned is to purchase it in the spring and store it properly until it is ready to burn in the later fall and winter.

Properly storing your firewood is important whether you buy it green or not. Even seasoned wood can become un-usable if it is not stored under the proper conditions. Firewood should be stored in a dry place, off of the ground, and out of the rain and snow. Air circulation is important as it helps evaporate any moisture trapped in the wood. If you cover your wood pile with a tarp or other covering remove it on warm sunny days to keep moisture from the ground from becoming trapped under the cover and seeping into the firewood.

The type of fuel you put into your fireplace is just as important as the type of fuel you put into your car. You would never put diesel into a non-diesel engine. Similarly you should never burn green wood in your fireplace. If you pay proper attention to the wood you are burning your fireplace will live a long and healthy life.