As winter approaches, it is time to start thinking about getting that fireplace rolling again. Is there anything better on a cold winter night than sitting in front of a roaring fire to stay warm and cozy? But, before you start throwing logs into the flames, you want to make sure you are using the best firewood. So, what constitutes good firewood and bad firewood?
Ideally, firewood should be hard, as it will burn longer and create more BTUs while it is burning. This is why oak is the preferred wood of choice. Oak trees take much longer to grow than other trees, which is what gives it a better composition, especially for burning in fires. Of course, you can use other woods, but you will not reap the benefits of the longer burn and it will end up costing you more money over the course of the winter.
In addition to burning quicker, woods like cherry and pine will also pop when they burn. Not only will this make you jump out of your shoes, 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.
Before burning any firewood, it should be properly dried. If you have ever started a fire and it sounded more like a steak cooking, the wood was more than likely not properly dried out. This is dangerous in that it can cause a creosote buildup in the chimney. With as little as 1/8″ being enough to cause a fire, this is an obvious concern. To tell if your wood is properly dried, just slam two pieces together. If you hear a dull thud, you know it needs to be dried out further.
Here is a great infographic on firewood that visualizes the concept of green wood vs. seasoned wood. Enjoy!