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Burning the Proper Firewood

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A blazing fire in the fireplace is made possible by selecting and burning the correct type of firewood. Well-seasoned firewood of the highest quality enables a fireplace or wood stove to burn cleaning and efficiently. Firewood that is wet or “green” may create odor, cause smoking, and contribute to rapid buildup of creosote. Burning improper firewood can even cause a chimney fire.

It's important to only burn seasoned firewood

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Well-seasoned firewood is 20 to 25 percent water, much less than the 45 percent water content of freshly cut wood. When seasoned wood is used, a fire will be easier to start, will burn cleaner, and more heat will be produced. Wood should sit for between six months and one year before burning so wind and sun can remove the water. It should be stored off the ground and protected from constant exposure to snow, rain, and other moisture.

Green wood is not as well-seasoned so the heat generated by combustion during a fire must dry the wood before the logs will burn. This consumes a large amount of energy, resulting in reduced heat distribution. The large amount of water released ends up as creosote, which deposits itself in the chimney and can create a hazardous condition.

Well-seasoned firewood is identified by darkened ends or visible splits or cracks. Each log is relatively lightweight and when two logs are hit together, a clunking sound emits. Firewood that is not well-seasoned has fresh-looking ends and is very heavy. When two green logs are struck together, a dull thud emits.

Investing in a wood shed featuring a roof and loose or open sides will allow air to circulate and dry the wood. If this is not feasible, store the wood in a sunny spot and cover the pile with a tarp during rainy or snowy weather. Wood can last for three to four years, providing plenty of fuel for many comfortable fires.