The world is full of people who assume wood is wood, and whatever they use to fuel their fireplace or wood stove will keep them sufficiently warm throughout the winter. The truth is that some types of wood are better fuel than others.
Stick to Hardwood
As tempting as the idea of using the old pine tree in your backyard for firewood might be, you need to resist the urge. Hardwood makes for much better firewood. Not only will the hardwood burn longer, but it also puts out more heat than softer woods, and it burns cleaner, leaving less creosote residue. There are some hardwoods that makes the best firewood.
There is no nicer burning wood than oak. Although oak often takes longer to dry than other types of wood, once it has dried it burns slowly and generates and incredible amount of heat. One word of caution, oak is a difficult wood to ignite so you’ll want to use a different type of wood for kindling when you first start your fire.
Birch is a great choice when you want to quickly warm up your house. It’s a pretty wood that looks great in a fireplace and generates a great deal of heat. The only problem with birch is that it doesn’t take very long for it to burn completely which is why most people chose to mix it with other types of firewood.
There are a lot of maple trees in the Northern Hemisphere and they’re a good choice when you’re looking for firewood. Maple actually has an even slower burn than oak, though the blaze won’t be quite as hot.
When You Decide to Use Softwoods
Softwoods never burn as well as hardwoods. Keep in mind, that when using softwood, your chimney will need sweeping more often. The soft woods don’t give a clean burn, and create more creosote than hardwoods. There are two types of softwoods that make a very nice firewood.
Red and white pine can be used as a firewood. The advantage is that the wood is very easy to work with and it burns nicely. The down side is that it also burns quite quickly and can often be full of sap pockets that can trigger sparks.
There are some people who love burning douglas fir. Like pine it’s easy to handle. The only down side is that it doesn’t take very long to burn.
Make Sure It’s Dry!
The type of wood is just one of the things you need to consider as you prepare for the upcoming winter. Before purchasing or cutting a cord, you also need to make sure the firewood has been properly cured. When you burn wood that hasn’t been cured and is still quite green you’ll find that it tends to generate more smoke than heat. The rule of thumb is that the wood needs to dry for 6-18 months before it’s burned. The best way to cure freshly cut firewood is stacking it in an area where it’s exposed to a great deal of wind and sun.
Signs that the firewood is dry and ready to burn include:
- There are visible cracks
- It appears faded
- You don’t feel any moisture
- Each piece weighs less than wood that has just been cut.
Using the proper firewood ensures that you’ll stay warm and toasty this winter!
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