One of the idle wintertime images is getting nice and cozy near the fireplace while the cold snow slowly covers every inch of the outdoors. The winds start to blow in the autumn, and you would like to make timely preparations for the upcoming chilly winter. If you realize that you know little about firewood, then this article is just the right one for you. Whether you intend to use it for your indoor fireplace or wood stove, this is all you need to know about choosing, seasoning, cutting, and storing your firewood.
Choose the Right Firewood
Hardwoods like black maple, hickory, locust and oak are used for long and lingering fires. If you need simple and small fires while you relax on your couch and watch a movie, then you’d want softer hardwoods like red maple, poplar, cottonwood, and birch. Certain softwoods that are abundant and cheap, such as pine, burn quickly and you will need larger quantities of it.
Make Sure It’s Properly Seasoned
Seasoned wood is dried wood, because it must be fully dry before you light the first fire. If there is any moisture inside of it, then it will ignite slowly and burn inefficiently, not to mention producing little heat and a lot of smoke. Wet wood is light brown, cream or white, as opposed to dry wood which turns deep brown, yellow or gray as it dries. Also, dry wood has cracks on the ends, is lighter in weight, and you hear a hollow smack when you bang two logs together. Hardwoods need 1-2 years of seasoning, while softwoods need about 6-12 months. It is best to start seasoning it during summer, because heat will speed up the process.
It is necessary to split your logs because it burns better and dries quicker. You can use a log splitter for faster performance, and split them into quarters or halves (depending on the size of the log). The wood should be easy to hold with one hand, and no more than 6 inches in width (ideal size for most modern fireplaces) and 16 inches in length. You can use larger pieces for wood furnaces and outdoor fire pits.
Purchasing the Right Size
Keep in mind that a pile is measured in cords. A full cord is 4x8x4 feet (height, width, and depth). A face cord is 4 feet high and 8 feet wide, regardless of the logs’ length. Avoid buying logs that are crisscrossed (stacked “log cabin style) and measure as face or full cord, because you will get less firewood than you paid for. Purchase them stacked straight across. Chop the remaining ends into smaller bits to use as kindling.
The firewood may have ants or termites, and you wouldn’t like them to get into your home, would you? That is why you should never store it inside your home, but outside. Keep a few logs near the fireplace and restock when needed. The best place to store firewood is a simple covered storage area or firewood shed. If you don’t have one, store it with the logs’ bark side on top, because bark acts as a natural barrier and will keep the rain from moisturizing the wood. Also, try laying a large trap over the wood pile during winter, but leave a side open to keep it ventilated. The pile should be kept elevated a few inches on a recycled pallet, a firewood rack, or with just a few long, thin logs running across the pile underneath.
If you follow these tips, your firewood will be properly treated and ready to keep you warm during cold winter nights. However, remember that your firewood has been outside for some time, so never reach blindly to grab a log, but keep an eye out for rats, snakes, spiders, and other insects that may be residing in your firewood stack.