Choosing the Best Firewood for Your Fireplace or Wood Stove

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The best firewood, in a nutshell, is well-seasoned hardwood. While that description works well for some people, others find it a bit confusing. All wood is hard to a degree, so how do you know which wood is best for burning in the fireplace or wood stove? And what does well-seasoned mean? We’ll show you.

Seasoned Firewood

Freshly cut firewood can contain up to 45% moisture content. Everyone knows that when water and fire combine they produce steam, but the wet object doesn’t burn very efficiently. The same is true for firewood. It doesn’t matter if you have an entire cord of brand new firewood if all of it is wet. Wood needs at least a year to dry out and become seasoned enough to use in a fireplace or wood stove.

Seasoned firewood only contains about 20% to 25% moisture, which burns much more efficiently than freshly cut wood. The best way to allow wood to season properly is to cut it, split it, stack it neatly, and cover it with a tarp for a year. Seasoned wood looks dark or gray compared to green wood that still appears tan, brown, or even green.

Never Burn the Following

  • Wet Wood – Wet wood doesn’t burn as efficiently and creates steam which leads to faster creosote buildup over time. The heat produced by wet wood isn’t nearly as hot as the heat produced by dry wood.
  • Treated Wood or Scraps of Painted Wood – Chemicals used in the treatment process, paint, and stain are released through the smoke from burning this type of wood. These chemicals can be very dangerous to your household.

Firewood by the Cord

What is a cord of firewood? A cord of firewood is a large stack of neatly cut and well-seasoned wood that measures 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. An experienced wood cutter will allow the wood to season for at least a year before selling it to you. Always try to make sure you’re purchasing wood from a reliable source.

Burn Hardwoods

Hardwoods are the best to burn because they burn more efficiently than soft woods. Here are some great choices that produce a lot of heat with little smoke output:

  • Ash
  • White Oak
  • Red Oak
  • Birch
  • Beech
  • Hard Maple
  • Hickory
  • Dogwood
  • Pecan
  • Almond
  • Apple

Start with Softwoods

Softwoods make a good kindling because they catch fire quickly and burn up quickly. They don’t produce a lot of embers, which makes them a good option for starting the fire.

  • Douglas Fir
  • Yellow Pine
  • White Spruce
  • Cedar

We hope this little guide has helped you make better decisions for choosing the best firewood for your fireplace or wood burning stove. Whether you purchase wood by the cord or the half cord, try to make sure you have a good combination of hardwoods and softwoods. This will make it easier to start a fire and keep it going.

Lou Curley’s Chimney Service is a locally owned and operated, family owned small business in Drexel Hill, PA. When we aren’t working we’re either relaxing and enjoying family time or continuing our education so we can better serve our clients. We are CSIA certified, FIRE Certified, NFI Certified, IAFCI Certified, C-DET Certified, and licensed contractors for work in the state of Pennsylvania. We provide chimney and dryer vent services throughout the surrounding area. Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment with one of our certified chimney sweeps.

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