Did you know burning green wood can severely damage your woodburning stove and cause residue build-up in your chimney? Green wood (or freshly cut wood) releases a lot of creosote (tar). It will burn, but it won’t burn well, and if done regularly can cause a chimney fire or worse. Green wood is safe for outdoor use, but seasoned wood is best for the most efficient and clean burn indoors.
Seasoning is the process of allowing wood to dry over a period of time (usually six months) depending on climate, and type and age of the tree. Although some wood may require less time, six months is considered a reasonable amount of time for the moisture content to drop from 50 per cent to 20 per cent or less.
Once you have selected the correct seasoned wood for maximum woodburning efficiency, consider which species of wood is best for heating your home. Hardwoods (maple, walnut, oak) were traditionally the preferred burn choice because leaky cast iron stoves wouldn’t maintain a fire made of softwoods (cedar, red pine, fir) overnight. However, with the latest advancements in technology, woodburning appliances all function well with a wider variety of wood species, due to their better control over the combustion process. In modern stoves, both soft and hardwoods make excellent fuel for spring and fall use, but it’s still best to save your hardwoods for the coldest part of winter. Also, consider burning fruit trees, such as apple or cherry, as they produce a pleasing aroma, and do well heating your home too.
Want to save time and energy? Buying pre-cut wood is a great way to go, but it is important to know what you are getting. Check with the seller to see what types of wood are included and be clear on how much wood you will receive. Don’t forget to determine the appropriate log dimensions so they fit inside your stove. It is good practice to visit the woodlot and inspect the wood before purchasing.
The official measurement of firewood is a “cord”. A “full cord” is four feet tall by four feet deep by eight feet long. Depending on the log size (commonly sixteen to eighteen inches), a “face cord” may only offer a third the firewood as a full cord, and should be priced accordingly. Firewood is also sometimes sold by the amount that fits in a truck bed; this can make the amount of wood difficult to gauge and can conceal a higher price per cord measure.
The amount of wood you need depends on climate, length of seasons, size of your home, and whether or not your appliance is the primary heating source. In theory, a cord of wood could last you four months in a smaller home with conservative use and moderate winter temperatures. However, it is better to err on the side of caution and overestimate the amount of firewood needed, so you aren’t left out in the cold. Always source a couple of woodlots to keep your options open. A cord most likely will only last you two months.
Once your wood has been delivered, or you’ve just finished splitting your own wood (the most inexpensive firewood source), it now needs to be stacked and stored properly.
Stack wood near the entrance to your home, but not against the wall, as this prevents insect and critter problems. Construct an open shed or use a tarp to shield wood from rain and elements. Keep your wood raised three to four inches off of a solid base or the ground to prevent the bottom rows from rotting. Pallet boards work very well for this purpose. Whatever you use, keep in mind there needs to be room for good air circulation all around the stack to aid in seasoning, and protection from the elements year-round. If you split your own wood, the storage area should ideally be sized to hold a three-year supply, to allow for proper seasoning and rotation.
Thank you to woodheat.org for the above information. woodheat.org is a great source for information on heating your home with wood.