The arrival of winter lights the ambiance of a crackling fire. Whether you’re heating a fireplace or fueling a backyard fire pit, maximize the most of the firewood you choose for burning. By seasoning and storing firewood, you’ll have wood that burns cleaner, produces less smoke, and yields heat more efficiently.
What Is Seasoned Firewood?
In layman’s terms, seasoned firewood implies that the wood has been left out to dry for a very long period, so moisture from the tree has evaporated from the wood. Seasoned firewood is distinguished from green firewood. Green firewood is freshly cut wood whereas kiln-dried firewood has had its moisture removed through a kiln.
Fresh cut wood is green and has 60 percent water content or more. Green or unseasoned wood is hard to burn and does not produce as much heat. Unseasoned wood also leads to creosote accumulation in the flue. For optimum burning, the moisture level of seasoned firewood should be near 20 percent. The process of seasoning allows moisture to evaporate from wood, yielding firewood that burns safely and efficiently. Firewood seasoning requires time, usually from six months to one year, but certain practices expedite the process.
Trees are colossal stems! Bark and wood are formed to keep moisture inside. Splitting wood exposes inner surfaces to air and sunlight, which slows drying and discourages insect infestations.
Never stack wood against your garage, home, or shed. This might lead to termites festering. See local building and fire codes, which stipulate distance between woodpiles and homes.
Follow these tips for successfully stacking firewood
• Expose wood to crisp sunlight. Shade-stored wood doesn’t dry as fast as the ones exposed to the sun.
• Avoid direct soil contact. Raising firewood stacks off the soil will permit air to flow beneath the wood.
• If stacking firewood near a wall or fence, allow a few inches between the wood and stack for air circulation.
• When making multiple side-by-side stacks, leave few inches between stacks for airflow.
• For safety, don’t stack firewood more than 4 feet high.
• Stored wood starts to decay after four years, and its burning efficiency plummets slowly meanwhile. For the best price on purchased wood, buy unseasoned wood in advance and season it yourself!
• Never burn wood that you know has been treated with insecticides or pesticides.
• Firewood with high moisture may burn, but it will be extremely difficult to light and just as hard to keep burning. Also, high-efficiency wood-burning stoves or furnaces are guaranteed to perform ineffectively as they struggle to burn fresh split wood. So make sure to season your firewood well for warmer winters!