Getting the most out of your fireplace means using the right fuel for a clean, efficient fire. For your wood-burning fireplace, that means burning only properly seasoned firewood. So how can you ensure that your firewood is properly prepped and seasoned for your fireplace?
Properly seasoning your firewood
To properly season your firewood, you have to cut it, stack it and store it in a way that allows the moisture content of the wood to drop from around 45 percent to less than 20 percent. To properly cure your wood:
- Cut logs to fit your fireplace. The right log length will vary from fireplace to fireplace. Logs should be approximately three inches shorter than your firebox.
- Split your wood. To season your firewood, you also need to split it to an appropriate thickness. Logs should be six inches in diameter or less. Logs or branches that are already thin can be left whole.
- Stack your wood loosely. Once your logs have been cut and split to the appropriate size, they should be loosely stacked. While firewood is seasoning, it should be stacked in a place where it is exposed to sunlight and wind, which will help to dry out the wood. At this point, the wood does not need to be covered. Let the wood dry for at least six months.
- Store your wood properly. Once the wood has been fully seasoned, it must be properly stored so that it won’t reabsorb moisture. The wood should be stacked off of the ground preferably in a sheltered area. If you don’t have a sheltered area in which to store your wood, the wood should be securely covered with a tarp.
Knowing your firewood has been properly seasoned
Burning wood that hasn’t been properly seasoned results in a colder, inefficient fire that can cause creosote to build up at a dangerously rapid rate within your chimney. That’s why it’s important to check your firewood to see if it has been properly seasoned, whether you cut the firewood yourself or you’ve purchased the firewood pre-seasoned from someone else.
If logs are properly seasoned, they should feel light in weight for their size. The wood should be dark gray or brown in color, rather than a creamy white. The wood should be cracked and pulling away from the bark. When struck together, two pieces of properly seasoned firewood will make a hollow “thud.” When you light a fire, you will quickly be able to tell that your firewood has been fully seasoned. Seasoned firewood lights easily. Once burning, it will pop and crackly pleasantly and won’t issue an abundance of smoke. In contrast, wood that still contains too much water will be difficult to light, will hiss as it burns and will billow heavy blue smoke.
When you know your firewood has been properly seasoned, you can be sure that you’ll get maximum heat and efficiency from your fireplace. You can also rest assured knowing that your fire isn’t rapidly filling your chimney with dangerous and flammable creosote.
Be ready to use your seasoned firewood by ensuring your fireplace is safe to use. Contact Total Chimney Care for your chimney and fireplace inspection.