When it comes to your wood burning fireplace or stove, the kind of firewood you’re using can have a major impact on your burning experience. While it may seem like all wood is created equal, there is a surprising amount of variation between different types of wood. Whether you prefer hard or soft woods, oak or ash, it is important that any kind of wood you use is seasoned.
Seasoned firewood is wood that has been chopped, cut, stacked, and allowed to dry while being exposed to the elements for between six months and one year. This drying process is what makes seasoned wood different from fresh cut wood, and there is no substitution for the time seasoning takes.
When wood is cut, it has an extremely high moisture content of between 40 and 50%. The amount of water in green wood is what causes it to pop, hiss, and smoke when placed on a fire; the flames must first evaporate the water before the wood can burn. This causes sluggish fires that burn slowly at low temperatures, creating larger amount of acidic creosote.
By allowing wood to season, the moisture levels are significantly reduced. Well-seasoned firewood will have as little as 10-20% water left at the end of the seasoning process. Reducing the moisture content in the wood allows it to ignite faster, burn hotter, and create less smoke while it is burning.
How to tell if wood is seasoned
It doesn’t take an expert to tell the difference between green and seasoned firewood! Once you know what to look for, it is extremely easy for anyone to tell if wood has been seasoned. The following are some easy ways to tell green and seasoned wood apart.
- Appearance: Freshly cut wood will have smooth ends that can even appear wet or damp because of sap or moisture evaporation. Seasoned wood, however, has darker ends with prominent cracks or splits due to the lack of moisture.
- Sound: Hitting two freshly cut logs together will create a deep “thud” sound. When two seasoned logs at hit together the pieces will create a hollower “clunk” noise.
- Weight: Because of the high moisture content, freshly cut wood is much heavier than seasoned firewood.
If you are still having trouble telling if your wood has been well seasoned, ask! Reputable dealers and distributors should be able to answer questions about the firewood you are purchasing, including what kind of wood it is and how long it has been seasoned for.
Storing your seasoned firewood
Storing your seasoned firewood correctly guarantees that you will have good quality wood to burn all season long. Wood should be placed on a rack that sits off the ground to prevent ground water from rotting the bottom layer; this also helps to keep insects, rodents, and other vermin out of the wood pile. While the top of your wood pile should be covered to prevent rain or snow accumulation, the sides should be left open to help continue the seasoning process and evaporate any moisture that gets into the stack.
Using the right firewood can make a major difference in the safety and efficiency of your fires. If you have questions about whether you are using the right firewood for your heating appliance, contact Pristine Sweeps today!