The importance of buying good firewood

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firewood
firewood

Well-seasoned wood will yield considerably more heat than wet wood. In fact, that’s another reason why seasoned logs are more environmentally friendly than wet logs. Also, good quality firewood is arguably more carbon neutral when compared to fossil fuels. It is for sure the better type of wood to buy and to burn. Good quality wood burns for longer, which means that it will be a while before you have to purchase any more. One of the many benefits to buying your wood in the summer is the price of the wood logs. Not a lot of people require wood to burn in their stoves during summer so therefore the supply and demand for wood will be much more fair.

Hardwoods work great for a long lasting overnight burn. But softwoods work well for kindling. Or quickly lighting a fire in the morning because they start easily. This will also in turn make them much better value for money for you too.

Make sure you buy dry wood

The most important thing to remember is that firewood needs to be fully dry before it’s ready to burn. The standard that appliance manufacturers work to allows for wood fuel between 12% – 20% moisture content. This small amount of moisture moderates the combustion process and liberates the right amount of heat energy to the room in accordance with the appliance design. To give you a rough idea how much moisture wood contains once its cut, a 1kg freshly cut log could contain around 500-600ml of water i.e. around one pint of water. This is why it can take up to 2 years to allow wood to dry sufficiency and be ready to burn.

Collecting your own firewood for burning

Firewood should be left to dry for a minimum of 12-18 months before being used. To dry wet logs, split logs into smaller pieces and leave logs into a suitable wood store to accelerate drying process. Make sure the top of wood store is covered to keep moisture out. Keep sides open to promote air flow and speed up the drying process. Do not store your wood against a house as this slows down drying and may cause pest problems. Check your product instructions for the optimum size of wood you should be using.

To identify well-seasoned wood, check the ends of the logs. If they are dark in colour and cracked, they are dry. Dry seasoned wood is lighter in weight than wet wood and makes a hollow sound when hitting two pieces together. If there is any green colour visible or bark is hard to peel, the log is not yet dry. It is recommended to purchase a wood moisture meter, to help you see when your wood is ready. Take a selection of logs from your seasoned wood pile and split them, so that you can take moisture readings from inside the log as well as the outside.

Moisture content

If the moisture content is 20% or below, the wood is seasoned and ready top burn. There are many different types of wood that all burn differently and have various qualities. For example, softwoods like cedar and pine create shorter burning, more intense flames whilst hardwood such as oak and cherry beech burn slower longer and are more effective for colder evenings. Never burn construction timber, painted, impregnated / treated wood, manufactured board products or pallet wood. These can release harmful fumes and may also damage your appliance.

Quantity

Always try to buy firewood by volume. Don’t buy wood by weight. Why? Some logs have a higher moisture content. It means they’ll be heavier and therefore you probably won’t get exactly the quantity you expect. Where possible, try to buy in cubic metres. Most suppliers will sell firewood by the bag or load. Always ask the size. Knowing the size will help you to calculate how long the amount of firewood you’re buying will last. You never know you might need much more or much less than you originally thought. Top tip: bag sizes can vary enormously. A standard bag size for one retailer might not be the same for another. If you’re buying firewood from more than one retailer, always check their bag sizes.

The size of the logs you buy

The size of the logs is equally important to check. Why? You may find that the size of your wood burning stove is too small to fit the size of the logs you’ve bought (this happened to my sister-in-law and so had to saw each individual log). You don’t want to come home only to find that you can’t fit the logs inside your wood burning stove and then saw or split each again yourself. However, there’s another important reason to ask about the size of the logs. For an efficient burn, logs should ideally be split to 100-120mm (or 4-4.75 inches). Not only does this diameter help logs to dry quicker, it helps them to burn more efficiently.

Is the source of the wood coming from a sustainable one?

Deforestation is a major environmental problem that affects us all. When trees are cut down, their stored carbon is released into the air as carbon dioxide. This contributes to global warming and according to best estimates, deforestation is responsible for up to 10% of all global warming emissions. When large patches of forests are cut down and the trees never replaced, greenhouse gases are increased. Moreover, species that call the forest home are displaced and this too can have a devastating effect on our ecosystem. It’s always wise to check with a retailer that their firewood has been sustainably sourced. You may not consider yourself an eco-warrior, but we all must do our part for the planet for a better future, right?

Overall

It seems like a rather backwards idea to call winter a comfortable season. It can be cold, long, and certainly, a lot of time spent indoors but there are a lot of benefits of staying dry and warm inside. You can save money, read books, develop some personal skills on your own and enjoy some peace and quiet. What you need to know before winter hits are the ins and outs of buying the perfect firewood to help keep you nice and toasty all year long. Not every piece of firewood is the same so it is important that you understand how useful it is to know what types there are, how to properly set up a fire, and other necessities for a warm winter. Here is your ultimate guide for the best winter fire you can have.

There are plenty of good reputable suppliers out there, however, there will always be some suppliers out there that claim their wood is seasoned when it is clearly not. If the supplier claimed the load was seasoned and it is clearly not you are within your right to ask for a discount for the lower quality and store it up or simply send it back. In fairness, some suppliers may not be fully aware of moisture content, appropriate storage and seasoning. However, a decent supplier should know about these factors and no excuses should be acceptable – it is their job description to know! If it was poor quality coal or oil for heating a complaint would be in order and Wood fuel for heating should be no exception.

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