Winter is coming. The leaves and temperatures fall, and hopefully you have already been thinking about your fire this winter. If you have a wood-burning fireplace, insert, or stove, you need to have firewood readily available for burn season. It should be properly seasoned for safety and best results.

Why Your Wood Matters

Firewood is not created equal. The species of wood you choose to burn will determine how hot your fire is, how efficient your chimney system is, and how much wood you have to burn this winter. Check out this cool list that breaks it down by energy content per air dried cord, in BTUs. Drying your wood will mean a better fire.

Like every living plant, trees use water to grow and thrive, and this water is stored in their massive trunks, in microscopic tubes, like the arteries of a human. When a living tree is cut, it can contain up to 50 percent moisture by weight. This moisture should be dried before the wood is burned, otherwise it burns slowly, incompletely, and results in a less efficient fire. Firewood burns best when it has less than 20 percent moisture by volume.

How to Season Firewood

When firewood is cut from a tree, it should be cut and split, then stored in a loose stack so that air can circulate around the wood, and help the wood dry. This process can take as little as three months for soft woods, and up to six months for hard woods. You can tell when your wood is properly seasoned by it’s appearance.

  • Your split wood should dull in color as it dries, it’s yellow meat turning a grayish hue.
  • The wood should begin to crack around the sides where it was split, and around the outside where it meets the bark, called checks.
  • The bark will pull away from the wood as it dries.
  • Two pieces should sound hollow when hit together.
  • If the wood is dry and gray or dull in color when split, it is dry throughout.

For best results when you store your wood, stack it loosely, in the sun, in a single row. Additionally, stacking the wood on a bed of gravel will allow for water runoff. Some like to store their wood in a wood shed, but a fully enclosed shed is not the best option, since it doesn’t allow for air circulation.

Purchasing Firewood

If you aren’t able to cut your own firewood, you can probably find a local source. If you buy locally, make sure your supplier is selling seasoned wood, or buy in the spring and store it for the coming winter. You should never pay for your wood before you see it, and be sure you are getting correct amount. Make sure that you get what you pay for when spending your hard-earned money for firewood.

For more information about firewood, and what you can and cannot burn in your fireplace, you can talk to a fire expert at Billy Sweep Chimney Sweep by calling 800-248-4900.

Not sure if your fireplace is ready for burn season? Maybe you have been burning green wood and need to check for creosote and soot in your chimney system. Schedule your chimney sweep online today.