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Choosing the Right Firewood

Choosing the right firewood is important thing to consider for care and enjoyment of your fireplace. Not all woods are created equal so let’s look over important characteristics of firewood.

The most important factor in choosing any wood to put in your fireplace is moisture content. After a tree is fallen and split into fire ready logs, proper time is needed for the wood to properly dry to burn cleanly and efficiently. This is called “seasoning” wood, or really drying it out. Creating a fire with green wood before it has time to season will create more creosote and smoke that will clog up your chimney. Wood that is dried to 20% or less will burn hotter and create less smoke and be an all around better fire. At your annual chimney inspection your sweep will check the buildup of creosote in your chimney.

Choosing the right firewood means a safer fire and a more efficient burn.

Choosing the right firewood means a safer fire and a more efficient burn.

The next thing to consider is species of wood. There are several that are great woods and can be quite confusing, but the general rule is that hardwoods will burn hotter and more slowly that softwoods. Hardwoods include

  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • White Oak
  • Maple
  • Cherry
  • Dogwood
  • Hickory

Softwoods are great for fires too. They burn quickly and cleanly and do not leave embers that continue to smolder after the fire dies down. They are great fire-starters to building a great fire or just for a cleaner and a lower intense fire. Softwoods are mostly firs and pines and include:

  • Cedar
  • Yellow Pine
  • Douglas Fir
  • White Spruce

So any type of wood is good for a fireplace depending on your use. Just make sure your wood of choice is properly seasoned and dry. Before buying any type of wood for your fireplace always ask if it has been properly seasoned and type of wood. If you hit two pieces of wood together it should make a hard “crack” sound. If a dull thud, then it may need to season and dry out a bit more. And before starting firing up your fireplace, be sure you have your fireplace and chimney inspected once a year. It’s better to be safe than warm.