One of the most important aspects of chimney care is using seasoned firewood in your fireplace. Properly seasoned wood will burn cleaner, longer and create less creosote and buildup in your chimney and flu during the cold season.
Seasoning firewood can vary from season to season and be very different for each region of the country you live in. Think about the differences between the season in Portland, Oregon versus Austin, Texas. Those regions will be different from Charlotte, North Carolina and Lynchburg, Virginia.
With this in mind here are some tips to keep in mind about properly seasoning your firewood.
- Don’t burn treated wood, wood from construction sites or chemically stained or processed wood.
- Wood dryness is more important than the type of wood you burn. Some types of wood are more dense than others. Less dense types of wood include Maple and Elm while your hardwoods include Oaks and Hickory. Les dense woods will burn quicker and cooler while your more dense woods will burn hotter and longer.
- Manage your wood pile. Rotate your wood so the dry wood gets burned first.
- Artificial logs are fine to use on occasion. Be sure to read the instructions. Only use one at a time. Multiple artificial logs are not meant to be burned at once together.
How to Spot firewood that Might Not be Seasoned Enough
- Obvious smells of freshly cut wood.
- Due to moisture the wood feels heavier than expected.
- Tree bark still tightly adheres to the wood.
- No obvious dry cracking on the butt ends of the wood.
- You hear a hissing sounds when the wood starts to burn.
- It is hard to get the fire started even with artificial logs, kindling or fire starters.
- Extra smoke builds up in the fire place he best way to know is a moisture detector. Any reading of 25% or can mean too much moisture.
What Happens when You Burn Unseasoned Firewood
Burning wood will always generate smoke but, smoke from green wood or wood with too much moisture will generate more smoke and smoke with more debris. Burning wood with too much moisture can cause more smoke which in turn can cause more creosote to build up in your chimney.
Burning moist firewood takes more heat since you have to boil off the water still within the wood fibers. Uncured firewood can contain more water than you think. Moisture results in less combustion and higher smoke as a result.
Just because the firewood you purchased looks gray, does not mean that your firewood has been cured properly.
For all the homeowners reading this blog, here are a few tips about storing and curing firewood:
- Be sure your wood has been chopped. Storing uncut logs can take years to cure depending on the size of the log and type of wood.
- Stack and cover your wood. Drying will happen over time depending on weather and humidity.
- Ideal moisture is between 15% – 25% for firewood. Dry firewood will burn cleaner, hotter and longer than wood that has not been cured enough.
- Purchasing or processing firewood in the spring should give you cured firewood for the next cold season. This may vary depending on weather and storage conditions.
- When you cover your wood leave some space for air to get through. This will ensure your wood will cure.
Whether you cut and cure your own firewood or buy it, these tips should help you enjoy cold seasons with warm fires.
In the end, caring for your chimney means curing your firewood. These tips can help you extend the life of your chimney and ensure you enjoy year after year of warm fires in your wood stove or fireplace. The CSIA also provides safety tips for firewood.