Whether you have an insert, a stove, or an open fireplace, your fire will only be as good as your firewood. Even if you have a high-efficiency appliance, your wood will determine just how efficient it is. It’s important to choose the best firewood, to make sure it’s properly seasoned, and make sure that it’s right for your needs.

Firewood and its Many Forms

There are many species of trees in America, and nearly all of them are used for firewood by. Professional firewood dealers may keep a stock of soft and hard species, but most will stick with hard. Hardwood has more energy content, so it burns longer and hotter than softer wood, but that isn’t as important as the moisture content.

Properly Seasoned Wood

When a tree is cut down, it can have up to 45 percent moisture content. This will make the wood difficult to burn, produce less heat, and create more pollution, soot, creosote, and ash. In order for your wood to burn hot, your chimney to work efficiently, and to avoid excess grime in your system, burn only properly seasoned wood. This means the wood has been cut and set aside to dry for 3-6 months so the moisture content is only 20-25 percent. When you burn properly seasoned wood, your fireplace will be safer, your chimney will vent better, and you will avoid a smoky, smelly fireplace.

Not sure if your wood is ready? We’ve got the ultimate checklist to keep you in check:

  • Does the wood have checks (cracks along the edges)? This cracking will occur as the wood dries and is a good indicator that it’s ready.
  • Does the bark pull away or fall off the wood?
  • Is the wood easy to split? As the wood dries, it will become easier to split. When you split it, if the interior wood feels wet, it’s not ready to burn yet.
  • Has the wood changed in color to a duller gray instead of tan or brown? Color change means dry.
  • Is the wood light and produces a hollow noise when two pieces are hit together (instead of a dull thud)?
  • Does it burn well? If the wood is difficult to light and burns poorly, it may still be too wet to burn. Go outside and look at the smoke coming from the chimney. If it’s dense and white, the wood may be too green to burn. The best fire makes smoke that you can see through.

Buying Seasoned Firewood

Not everyone has a readily accessible supply of forest to cut firewood from. If you don’t have access to timber, you can still burn the proper firewood. There are many local suppliers that supplement their income by selling firewood. The trick is to choose someone who sells seasoned firewood, and who does so at a fair price. Don’t pay too much for firewood, especially if it’s too green to burn! Search on your local online marketplace for a supplier, and if possible, read some reviews. Check out the wood before making your purchase, and make sure it’s properly seasoned.

If you’ve found properly seasoned wood, and your fireplace is still performing poorly, you may have a bigger problem. Contact Pristine Sweeps to assess your system today so that you can get back to enjoying your fireplace.