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Choosing the Right Firewood

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Sweater weather will be here before you know it, which means it is almost time for building fires. Is there anything better on a cold winter night than sitting in front of a roaring fire relaxing? However, before you start tossing logs into the flames, you want to make sure you are using the best firewood. So, what constitutes good firewood and bad firewood?

Use Dry Wood - South GA, North FL - Homestead Chimney

Use Dry Wood – South GA, North FL – Homestead Chimney

Ideally, firewood should be solid (not half rotted), as it will burn longer and create more BTUs while it is burning. This is why oak is the favored wood of choice. Oak trees take much longer to grow than other trees, which is what gives it a better structure, especially for burning in fires. Other woods can be used, but they will burn more quickly and that cost does add up over the course of the season.

In addition to burning more rapidly, woods like cherry and pine will also pop when they burn. Cherry is a semi hardwood, many like due to the fragrance, don’t know about popping….popping is usually relative to knots, cat faces, and other areas of highly concentrated fuel storage exploding, sometimes sending the knot into orbit. Not only will this startle you, but it can be quite dangerous. Embers can become airborne and if there is no protective screen or the fireplace is out in the open, this could start a fire outside of the fireplace. You should always have a functioning screen to prevent any flying embers.

Before burning any firewood, it should be properly dried. If you bang dry wood together, the sound is crisp, while wet wood sounds muffled. Wood with too much moisture also causes a smokier fire. It also contributes to creosote buildup which is a fire hazard. With as little as 1/8″ being enough to cause a fire, this is an obvious concern.

Here is a great infographic on firewood that visualizes the concept of green wood vs. seasoned wood. Make sure your wood is covered on top, but not on the sides to allow for further drying. It is best when possible to burn with glass doors open and close when not in use or before leaving or going to bed. Glass doors are designed and rated for proper application and misapplication can cause shattering. Ideally, 1/4″ tempered glass is a good material. Choosing the proper firewood means a longer lasting fire, with less smoke and less toxic buildup in your chimney. Now you are ready for cozy nights by the fire.