Burning a wood fire in your fireplace seems like such a simple thing. Just cut down a tree and burn the wood. There’s actually more to it than that. There are some types of wood that are better for burning than others, and it’s important that you’ve stacked and stored your firewood correctly as well. Here are some tips to get the best fire possible this winter.

Choose the Right FirewoodChoosing the right firewood

When choosing firewood, understand that different types of wood will burn differently. Generally speaking, hardwoods will burn hotter and longer than softer types of wood, so when you’re burning a winter fire, you’ll want to look to hardwoods such as hickory, oak, sugar maple, or beech. These types will produce a hot, long lasting fire that won’t require you to constantly be getting up to replenish the logs in the fireplace. If you want a quicker burn or if it’s a cool night and you’re just looking to get the chill out of the air, such as in the spring or fall,, you’ll be okay with softer woods, such as poplar, pine, or spruce.

Another thing that’s important to look at when choosing firewood is the water content. When you cut down a tree, the water content is going to be quite high, at best around 60% but this range can go as high as 120%. As wood sits, however, it loses that moisture content, which will make it burn more efficiently and with less smoke. This is why it’s so important to let your firewood dry, or cure. Your firewood should get to a moisture content of less than 20% in order to produce a good burn. The best way to cure firewood? Cut it early to give it plenty of time to dry and stack it properly so that the moisture can leave easily. To properly cure, wood should sit for at least six months, and longer is even better. Different wood types dry more quickly, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell if your firewood is dry.

If you are purchasing your firewood, there are some signs you can look for to see if it has cured for an adequate amount of time. Cured firewood will be lighter in weight and grayer in color than uncured wood. Smell it: if it smells fresh and sappy, you’ll want to pass on purchasing it. Properly cured firewood will have cracks on the cut edges, and the bark will peel easily from the wood. Dry firewood will sound hollow, not solid, when you hit two pieces together.

Why It’s Important

It’s important to use properly cured firewood because wet wood produces more smoke, and thus more creosote, than dry wood. Creosote buildup is a big factor in chimney fires, as it is extremely flammable and as little of an eighth of an inch of buildup can catch a spark and cause a fire to ignite. If you have questions on what type of firewood to burn, give Chim Cheroo Chimney Service a call and let our experienced staff answer those questions.