Identifying the Best Types of Firewood
The winter will be upon us before you know it. If you’re not prepared, it will take more than a blanket and a cup of hot chocolate to keep you warm. It’s never too early to stock up on the best types of firewood.
You want to grab it before your local stores begin selling out or hiking up their prices. The question is, what kind of wood should you get?
Is there a kind that you shouldn’t put in your fireplace? We’ve got the answers to all these burning questions and more. Keep reading to learn how to stay nice and cozy this chilly season.
When you’re looking for wood, you’ll see two terms thrown around often. These are hardwood and softwood. We’ll go over hardwood first as it’s the best one for fireplace use.
The main way to tell it apart from softwoods is that it’s a lot denser and darker as far as color goes. Once you throw the wood in your fireplace, it will burn slowly and keep your home warmer longer. Not only is hardwood great for burning in your fireplace, but it’s also ideal for cooking.
There are a couple of things that you need to keep in mind with hardwood. It’s a lot more expensive to get your hands on than softwoods. Hardwoods also tend to leave a residue in your fireplace that you’ll have to be sure to clean out.
Seasoning wood is the process of storing it until the moisture evaporates. This typically takes about six months to a year to accomplish, but the wood will burn much more efficiently.
Softwood isn’t as dense as hardwood, so it seasons faster. The downside is that it doesn’t last as long or burn as hot as hardwood. It also puts out more smoke, so these types of firewood may set off your alarm if you burn them inside.
If you need kindling for a campfire, however, this wood has you covered. As far as choices go, there are many more hardwoods than softwoods, but you still have your pick.
Types of Wood
Now that we’ve got firewood identification out of the way, it’s time to talk about the different options that you have to choose from. They all vary in terms of cost and effectiveness.
When you begin your search for firewood, you’ll see cords of oak all over the place. It’s pretty popular because of how long it can burn.
It will keep your home warm all night long due to how dense and heavy it is. Many firewoods are full of sap, so they leave a lot of residue in the fireplace that you have to clean out. Oak is not one of these woods.
There’s only one issue with oak. It tends to hold in moisture, so it takes forever and a day to season. You want to store it for at least a year.
If you can plan enough in advance, you may want to let it season for two years or more. The longer you let it sit, the better the results will be when you throw it in the fireplace.
If you don’t have a lot of time to wait for your firewood to season, look for birch hardwood logs for sale. Like any wood, it works best if you wait for the moisture to evaporate, but it will still burn okay unseasoned. There are a lot of different types of birch.
Black birch is the most popular because it’s denser than the other species. This means that it can burn for a while and it stays hot. It also has a sweet smell when it’s burning, which can be nice.
Yellow birch is the second most popular variation. It’s not as dense as black birch, but it can still burn for a while. It gives out a pleasant wintergreen scent when you’re burning it, too.
If you need to split the wood yourself, you might be in for a bad time. Yellow birch also dries slowly, so it will take a while for you to season it.
White birch is not the best option to use as far as firewood goes. It’s got a thin bark that isn’t great for burning. It also holds in moisture more so than the other options, making it hard to season.
No matter what type of birch you choose, you want to use it in combination with a slower burning wood such as oak for the best results.
You know how when you’re trying to light a fire, you’ll use newspaper clippings after newspaper clippings? That method works, but cedar is much more effective.
You can use it in your fireplace to get things going, but you want to burn it in combination with hardwoods such as oak and birch. We will tell you that you need to make sure that you have some type of protective door attached to your fireplace if you want to use cedar.
It tends to pop and crackle a lot. If you don’t have a door, the embers could escape, and well, you know the rest. It’s a fire hazard.
If that turns you away from cedar, that’s understandable. We’ll tell you that if you do buy it, it’s not a total loss. You can use it for a lot more than firewood.
Since it tends to repel bugs, many people will put it in their dresser to keep insects from getting in and eating their clothes. It’s also great for cooking.
Like birch, ash is a great wood to use in a pinch. There’s not much of a difference in moisture content between seasoned ash and the freshly cut stuff.
It’s still better to use seasoned wood, but when you need firewood, you need firewood. If you find yourself splitting your own wood, you’ll be happy to know that your ax should cut through it like butter.
You will need to be careful when you’re cutting down ash trees. Do a visual inspection to make sure that the tree isn’t dead. If you see any flaking bark, you’ll want to hold off, or you may end up getting seriously injured.
Larch is a softwood that can be even harder than some hardwoods, making it ideal to use as firewood. You may want to combine it with some of the other woods on this list, though.
If you don’t, you’ll be disappointed by the minuscule burning time that you get out of it. It’s not that hot when it burns either, but it does have some other awesome features.
It’s easy to cut with an ax or chainsaw. You also don’t have to worry about it rotting when it’s sitting in storage. Granted, the wood still rots, but at a much slower rate than other woods.
Pine can be a good choice for firewood, depending on how you look at it. It puts off a lot of sap, which causes a build-up of a substance called creosote.
If left unchecked, an overabundance of this substance can result in a horrible house fire. That doesn’t mean that there’s no use for pine. It’s not that difficult to chop, and it’s one of the best things to use to get a fire going.
You can use it in your indoor fireplace as long as you’re careful. If you’re worried about creosote, it’s not a bad wood to cut up for outdoor use.
People love to use cherry wood in their fireplaces because of the amazing scent. It burns fast and won’t fill your house with unpleasant smoke.
The only concern that some homeowners have with cherry is that it tends to pop. You might not want to use it if you’re working with an open fireplace.
Chestnut wood can make a good firewood if you choose the right kind. If you can get your hands on American chestnut, that’s the ideal. The flames that the logs put off won’t be that large, but they’ll still be able to keep your house nice and cozy.
You can use Chinese chestnut for burning as well, but it gives off a nasty odor that you may not want wafting through your house. Sweet chestnut isn’t the best choice, but you can make it work if don’t have any other options.
Dwarf chestnut is a big no-no. The tree doesn’t grow tall enough to make it worth it.
It’s not a requirement for you to go the traditional firewood route. This is especially true if you don’t have enough time to sit the wood in storage and wait for it to season. It’s okay for you to use the manufactured stuff instead.
Wood pellets are a good option unless you want to throw them in your fireplace. They burn really fast and are small, so you’ll need a lot of them if you want to burn them in your chimney.
They’re made for pellet stoves. You can use them for cooking, but if you want to heat your house, you’re going to need to use manufactured wood bricks.
Wood bricks are bricks that are made out of wood. It’s sort of self-explanatory. Since they’re made with wood chips and sawdust, that allows you to get around the whole seasoning process.
They don’t leave a lot of ash and other debris behind in the fireplace, making cleaning up afterward a breeze. Most high-quality brands burn as long and as hot as actual firewood as well.
Types of Wood Not to Use
So, we’ve been over what firewood types you should use. It’s time to talk about the ones you should avoid. Using any one of these woods can either endanger your home or turn into an environmental disaster.
Green wood is essentially unseasoned. It still has all the sap and moisture that trees have when they’re freshly cut. Again there are some woods that work okay when they’re not seasoned, but they still don’t light as well as they could.
Oftentimes, untreated wood will also fill your house up with smoke. If you don’t want to avoid this, make sure to ask your seller if the wood is green or not.
You can burn driftwood, but you should avoid it if you can. It’s full of chemicals, which when burned, can release a bunch of carcinogens into the air. It’s not something you want to breathe in.
This is going to sound picky but bear with us. You don’t want to take wood that’s been stored miles away from where you live. You could end up introducing a whole new insect species to your hometown if you bring back an infected log.
The same goes for diseases. It could take over an entire forest if you’re not careful.
Most treated woods are preserved using arsenic. We don’t have to explain why you don’t want to burn that. If you throw painted wood into your fireplace, it will release a lot of horrible chemicals into the air.
Throwing big chunks of wood into your fireplace is a complete waste of time because it won’t burn. You’ll need to chop the logs into smaller pieces if they’re larger than 5 inches around.
The Best Types of Firewood to Use This Winter Season
Are you looking to stay nice and cozy this winter? You’re going to need to use the best types of firewood in your chimney. Anything less than that won’t be able to handle the job.
Not all woods are the same. Some work better than others when thrown in a fireplace. We hope that you’ve been able to use this guide for identifying types of firewood so you can stay warm on even the snowest days.
If you’re looking for more ways to stay bundled up, we’ve got your back. Visit our blog daily for additional articles like this one.