Over the years we have been in the chimney business at Owens Chimney Systems, we have discovered that many homeowners do not really know the best woods to use for firewood. While certain species of wood will burn longer and hotter than other species, the main quality of the right firewood for burning is that the wood is seasoned, or dried. Burning seasoned firewood is not only better for fires, but dried wood is also much better for your chimney. We would like to tell you more about seasoned firewood and why the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends burning this type of wood.
Seasoned wood is firewood that has been dried for at least six months after it has been cut and properly stored off the ground and covered so that it stays dry. All wood contains water, and wood that has just been cut can have a moisture content of up to 45 percent. Seasoned wood should only have about 20 to 25 percent water.
Why is it so important to burn seasoned wood?
First of all, seasoned firewood is much easier to start than freshly-cut, or green, wood because green wood is so wet. Secondly, burning seasoned wood is much better for your chimney because it burns more cleanly. When you burn green wood, it creates more creosote, a highly flammable compound. Even worse, the creosote is more likely to be in the glazed form, which can be the most dangerous. While creosote is a natural result of burning wood and is inevitable, burning seasoned wood helps to reduce its production. The third reason Owens Chimney Systems recommends burning seasoned wood is that it produces more heat and will last longer. When you burn green wood, a great deal of energy is used to burn off the excess moisture in the wood before the wood can burn effectively. This delivers less heat to your home and deposits gallons of acidic water in your chimney, which can eat away at the bricks and mortar.
How do I know if firewood has been sufficiently seasoned?
You can use a moisture meter to measure exactly how much water is contained in a piece of wood, but you do not have to purchase this tool to know whether or not firewood has been completely dried. When shopping for firewood, look for wood that has darkened ends with visible cracks and splits. Seasoned wood will also be more lightweight than freshly-cut wood. You can also knock two pieces of wood together, and if you hear a hollow clunking sound, the wood is seasoned. Green wood will make a dull thudding noise when knocked together. We suggest that you ask your friends and family for recommendations of trusted firewood dealers so that you will know the firewood has been properly seasoned and stored.
This winter, be good to your chimney by burning the right wood: seasoned firewood. Contact us at Owens Chimney Systems if you have any questions about this type of fuel for your fireplace.