Tis the season, start seasoning your firewood!
As the temperature begins to warm up outside, enjoying a toasty fire by the fireplace inside might be the furthest thing from your mind. But spring is actually the best time to start planning ahead for the next fire season, specifically for wood-burning fireplace and stove users.
Gathering and preparing the wood you’ll burn during the winter now can save you a lot of time, money and hassle later. It will also ensure you burn only the most efficient fires. Green wood — or freshly chopped wood — burns poorly because of its high moisture content. The fire from green wood gives off less heat, is smoky and can really clog your chimney with dangerous creosote*. Wood needs several months to dry out or season*, which is why spring is the best time to get started.
A few things to consider when choosing which wood to burn:
- All wood doesn’t burn the same way: Hardwoods like oak aren’t as aromatic as softwoods like pine. Elm is smokier than birch. We recommend doing some research to figure out which type of wood is the best for the fire you want to burn.
- Decide whether to cut your own wood: Burning wood you cut yourself can be a rewarding experience, but it also requires time and some serious effort, not to mention land with available trees. If youwant to cut trees from a state forest or park, there are usually strict rules and a permit involved. Contact your local Department of Natural Resources to find out what you’ll need to do to get the go-ahead.
- If you’re buying from a firewood dealer, DO YOUR RESEARCH: Make sure the dealer is licensed and has good reviews. Again, your local Department of Natural Resources can be a good starting point to get a list of licensed dealers in your area. Once you have the list, do some online research to see what previous customers have to say about working with the dealer and the quality of their wood. Buying green wood will save you some money. If you’re buying seasoned wood, it’s still best to buy it early so that it can sit out just in case it isn’t as seasoned as promised.
Now that you know what kind of wood you want and where to get it; it's time to consider *seasoning.
Tips on seasoning your wood:
- Know the size of your fireplace or wood stove and cut the wood accordingly: You can have the dealer pre-cut the wood or do this yourself. Smaller pieces dry faster, so consider cutting the wood into quarters.
- Stack your wood in a way that allows air to thoroughly flow throughout. We’ll cover different techniques for wood stacking in a separate post.
- Elevate the stack so moisture from the ground doesn’t seep into the bottom.
- Leave your stack uncovered as much as possible. If your wood is covered too long, mold could form. Expose the stack to air as often as you can. If you have it cover it, cover it for only a few hours during inclement weather then uncover.
- Give it time. As mentioned above, wood takes time to fully dry out, and the dryer your wood, the better the fire. So plan ahead and be patient. You’ll reap the warm and cozy benefits soon enough.
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* Seasoning - Wood drying (also seasoning lumber or wood seasoning) reduces the moisture content of wood before its use.