Get the Facts on Firewood
Softwood or hardwood? Maple or pine? According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, the type of firewood isn’t nearly as important as its age. It needs to be dry – very dry.
Freshly cut wood can be up to 45 percent water – and water, as you know, doesn’t burn too well. Good firewood should be well seasoned, cut in short logs (preferably split) from six months to a year in advance, and properly stored. A good plan is to buy or cut in the spring and use the following fall or winter.
If you’re buying wood from a vendor, look for signs of well-seasoned wood. Darkened ends with cracks or splits and a light weight are good signs; green wood is generally very heavy, the ends look fresher, and pieces knocked together make a dull ‘thud” when struck – rather than a nice, clear “clunk.”
If you decide to burn green wood – or have no option – be aware that it will deliver lots of smoke, little heat and large quantities of gooey black creosote, requiring extra cleaning to prevent dangerous chimney fires.