Clean-Burning, Long Lasting Firewood
Temperatures are dropping here in Richmond, Virginia. Winter is just around the corner! This is a great time to light up your wood-burning fireplace or stove. Zone heating your home with a wood-burning appliance can cut down on your energy costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Choosing the right firewood will help you build long-lasting, clean-burning fires.
The best firewood
Seasoned hardwoods make the best firewood. Hardwoods like oak, cherry and maple are denser than softwoods like pine or cedar. Due to their density, they burn longer and produce more heat or BTUs.
When wood is “seasoned” it means that it has been cut and dried for at least 6 months. The reason that wood needs time to season or dry out is that it naturally has a high moisture content. Wood is made up of hundreds of microscopic tubes that are filled with water. These tubes carry water from the roots to the leaves. Freshly cut wood can have a moisture content as high as 45%.
Cutting wood and storing it in a dry, ventilated space allows moisture in the wood to evaporate. Seasoned firewood typically has a 25% moisture content or less.
The lower moisture content of seasoned wood helps it to ignite easier and burn hotter. The wood will also produce less smoke and combustion by-products. In contrast, green or unseasoned wood is harder to ignite. When it does burn, it produces less heat and thick black smoke filled with combustion by-products.
If you burn unseasoned wood regularly, your chimney will need to be clean more often. Burning unseasoned wood increases the amount of creosote that forms in the chimney. Creosote is a highly flammable chemical compound that builds up in chimneys. It’s created when condensation in the chimney combines with combustion byproducts. It’s the leading cause of chimney fires.
Are you wondering if the wood you collected and cut this spring or summer is seasoned? There are a few ways to check to see if it’s dry enough:
- Each log should feel dry and lighter when you pick it up.
- The ends should be a darker color and the bark should look dull, crispy and dry.
- Cracks or splits in the logs are a clear sign that it’s seasoned. Loss of moisture is what causes wood to crack
- When you knock on the wood, it should sound hollow. If it makes a dull “thud” sound instead, it isn’t seasoned.
If you still aren’t sure, you can use a moisture meter to determine that the wood is seasoned. You can find a moisture meter at a local hardware store or online. It will give you an accurate reading of the moisture content in the wood.
For tips on buying firewood, check out this helpful article from the Chimney Safety Institute of America! (https://www.csia.org/selecting_firewood.html)
By using seasoned hardwood in your fireplace or stove, your fires will burn longer, hotter and cleaner. Seasoned softwood is great to use as kindling. Just be conscious to not use very much. Like greenwood, softwood generates more creosote. Using it sparingly will reduce the risk of a chimney fire.
Before you light a fire in your fireplace or wood-burning stove, be sure to schedule a chimney cleaning with a CSIA-certified chimney sweep! Fireplaces and heating appliances are the leading cause of house fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Getting your fireplace or stove and its chimney or ventilation system inspected and cleaned every year is the best way to protect you and your home. Call Chimney Saver Solutions today to set up an appointment!