Last Updated on October 6, 2020 by woodcutter
From cowering in the dark and hiding in caverns, mankind stayed in perpetual fear of the glow-eyed creatures of the night. Subsisting on grubs, berries and raw meat, nothing truly separated man from animal. Well, that is until one of our curious ancestors tamed the embers that brought us our first fire. It glows and flickers and acts like it has a life of its own.
However, fire without fuel cannot survive. Firewood remains the most common fuel used globally, but not all firewood is created equal. In this article, I will give you useful tips on how to choose the right firewood for your wood stove.
Choose Only Dry Firewood For Your Wood Stove
Wood is pervious to water, which it retains and does not easily lose. The problem with this moisture comes apparent the moment you place the wood in your wood stove. Firstly the wood will not burn easily, implying that it will take you a couple of minutes before you are successful in setting the fire. Such patience can be hard to come by, though. Moist wood does not burn easily so that your stove’s operating efficiency is dealt a major blow. It will also deprive you of the much-needed warmth during the cold winter.
Furthermore, when moist wood is burnt in a stove, it produces much smelly blinding smoke. Some of it quickly finds a way through your house instead of rising the chimney. Therefore you have to thoroughly inspect the wood for dryness before feeding it into your stove and inspecting wood that has split ends or which has cracks work the best. The word which defines the level of wetness of the firewood is moisture content. Ideal moisture content for firewood is between 15% and 20%.
When Buying Firewood Make Sure The Stacking Area Is Kept Dry
It is easy to let your guard down and trust the salespeople so that you end up buying the wood either online or street side. Regret will soon consume you when you discover the wood is moist! Thus you have to make sure the area where the firewood is stored is dry and ventilated. In case the local supplier of your wood stores the product outdoors, the best burning logs will be found covered with some canvas on an elevated pallet away from the effects of moisture. Best storage facilities on a commercial level are warehouses with moisture control systems.
Time Your Firewood Purchase
The best period to buy firewood is during the summer. During this time, you will relax confidently knowing you have a greater chance of getting the best firewood. The simple explanation has to do with warm or better yet hot weather, promoting quick moisture evaporation from most wood. Hot, humid summers are good because there will be some degree of the firewood absorbing water vapor. During the wet season, you will have the option of paying a premium for kiln-dried wood that would burn just as great. Conclusion this cost may be a bit stiff, so it is recommended that you stock wood in summer in a dry place for later use.
Select The Right Type Of Firewood
The efficiency of your wood stove also depends on the type of wood you are burning. Hardwoods, flowering trees, and nut-bearing trees produce better burning logs than softwood. Softwoods burn inefficiently; henceforth, pine, birch, aspen, and other softwoods are not good for your stove. However, a small softwood fire can be ideal for a quick way to warm up the house without overheating it nor leaving a big charcoal bed. Oak trees (hardwoods) are relatively easy to source and make excellent firewood. Their denseness makes them last longer, giving a longer burn.
However, it can be a little harder to get the fire going with this firewood. In order to lighten the work, the firewood should have been thoroughly seasoned before use. This takes a little bit longer with oak compared to other wood. If you are interested in firewood, which lights quickly and gives the highest heat output, picks up maple firewood. It also has to be seasoned appropriately for these impressive characteristics to apply. Ash’s firewood properties are quite similar to those of maple; therefore, they can somehow be used interchangeably.
Pick Up Log The Right Size For Your Stove
Not all log sizes will fit in your stove. You need to measure the size of the firewood compartment before embarking on buying the firewood. Most wood is cut 16 inches, which fit well for stoves sized 18 inches and above. If you are operating a smaller stove, then you will have to request shorter firewood.
Store Your Wood In The Right Area
Storing your wood in the right area will save you the stress of distinguishing good quality from bad quality wood. Keep the wood you have stocked in a dry area away from any potential sources of moisture. Also, avoid mixing old and new firewood. Never store your wood on bare ground where it can easily deteriorate. Instead, store it on the elevated ground like a wood rack. Also, try to invest in a ventilated tarp to protect your firewood.
Choose seasoned wood
It is advisable that you only select seasoned firewood for your stove. Seasoned wood having been sufficiently dried using artificial means will be easy to start running fire with. The drawback of using moist wood is the release of volatile compounds and water, which can be detrimental to your stove’s body. The effects often reduce the stove’s performance and longevity.
Never Use Treated And Resinous Firewood
The use of treated firewood in your wood stove is dangerous. Burning such wood releases volatile, carcinogenic compounds like creosote. It will prove a daunting task trying to get the scent of this compound out of your home once the smoke diffuses in. Production of creosote implies that you will need to clean the chimney to get the soot out frequently. Otherwise, poor ventilation and diffusion of smoke into your home will be the order of the day. Resinous firewood treated with creosote is a major cause of chimney fires, so think twice before placing them in your stove.
Furthermore, resinous firewood like eucalyptus affects the reliability of your wood-burning stove. This is because they produce chemicals that are harsh on the stove’s internal components, particularly the catalytic combustor. The combustion fan is also affected similarly. In additional, pitch, the resin released from coniferous trees, is the culprit causing gumming up of stove pipes and fingers. It also has a mechanism of making pops and cracking sound when it dries, acting as a form of supercharged fuel. And you do not get all these effects with hardwoods. Thus hardwoods are the better choice because they offer less wear and tear on your stove while burning efficiently.
Use A Moisture Meter On Firewood
This device is quite handy, reliable, and fast. Having it close to you when you go out looking for firewood can be convenient. Roughly this device will require you to part ways with $75 to $100 depending on the make. Sounds too stiff, right? Not if you look on the brighter side, considering that you will avoid miserable cold winters with wet wood once you have invested in the device.
Choose Wood Cut In Winter
It is ideal to use best firewood that was cut during winter because the sap would not have risen. Tree sap makes it a big challenge for the wood to burn efficiently; thus, the lesser it is, the better. Splitting the wood into the right sizes can then be done in early spring. Harvested dead wood from the forest makes good firewood due to the absence of sap. Hence try hunting for deadwood (That has not yet undergone decay) since it is also eco-friendly.
Be Inquisitive When Buying Firewood
You have to be inquisitive with the salespeople regarding the time the wood was cut and the wood varieties. You know the saying “a customer is a king” holds water, with many businesses. However, if the salesperson/supplier does not know or is reluctant to say just to continue being inquisitive.
Now that you have gone through this article, I am confident you are more than competent enough to know how to choose the right firewood for your wood stove. From the type of wood that burns readily and longer to the optimal storage conditions for firewood, nothing is stopping you now from planning and keeping Jack Frost and his winter goons at bay.
However, do not forget to keep the mantra “go green” alive. The much-favored hardwood trees are slothful in growth, making it a habit of planting at least two hardwood plants for every tree you chop down. That way, it is a win-win situation for everyone. Feel free to share this post to your social media handles or to your loved ones who are struggling to choose the best firewood for burning stove.