As summer draws to a close, homeowners are beginning to make their preparations for fall and winter. If you have a wood-burning fireplace or heating stove, that means that you’ll be investing in fuel for your hearth. The right firewood can make all the difference in a wood-burning fireplace or stove. For homeowners looking to heat their homes with wood, the right wood will burn hotter and more efficiently, meaning you will need less of it to keep your home cozy. For homeowners who want to enjoy the ambiance of a wood fire, the right firewood means less smoke and less dangerous buildup within your chimney. So what makes good firewood? And how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting?

So what makes good firewood? And how can you be sure that’s what you’re getting? Make sure the wood has been seasoned.

Make sure the wood has been seasoned.

The most important consideration when looking for firewood is that wood has been properly seasoned. That means the wood has been stored for a minimum of six months so that the natural water content of the tree has had time to evaporate out of the wood. Seasoned firewood burns hot, cleanly and efficiently. When the wood hasn’t had time to dry out adequately, the water trapped inside the logs will boil and steam. That cools down the temperature of your fire and creates a lot of smoke, which leads to an excess of creosote buildup within your chimney.

Look for hardwoods.

Hardwoods — like maple, ash, elm, birch, hickory, and cherry, to name a few — are favored by people who are serious about heating their homes with wood. That’s because these hardwoods are dense, and they burn hot and for longer periods of time. As you look for wood, aim to fill your woodpile primarily with hardwoods. Softer woods can be burned, but it’s generally recommended that they are mixed in with hardwoods.

Ask about storage.

Choosing the right hardwoods and making sure that the wood has been thoroughly seasoned isn’t enough; you have to make sure the wood also has been properly stored. When wood isn’t protected from the elements or elevated off of the ground, it can reabsorb moisture and begin to mold or rot. If you are purchasing or accepting wood from someone else, make sure they have properly stored the wood to make sure you’re not going to be stuck with wet, decaying firewood that won’t burn well.

Inspect the wood.

A quick inspection of the wood should let you know whether you’ve found the right firewood. Wood that has been properly seasoned and stored with be a dull, gray color; the bark will be pulling away from the wood; and the wood might be cracked in places. When struck together, the wood will make a hollow noise. When you do burn the wood, it should ignite quickly and make a pleasant crackling sound as it burns.

Finding the right firewood means you’ll have a successful wood-burning season, full of warm, crackling fires that heat your home safely and efficiently. Make sure you find the right firewood this fall so you get the most out of your fireplace! And as part of your preparation for the fire-burning season, don’t forget to schedule your chimney sweeping appointment with Total Chimney Care!