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Sunday, November 16, 2014
Not All Firewood is Created Equal
It is the season for firewood. And boy do we have firewood to offer you! But first you must know that not all firewood is created equal.
Who doesn't love a nice cozy fire. The warmth of the fire coupled with the crackling of the wood and the aroma of the burning wood is captivating and addicting. However, if you are going to be building a fire regularly it is important to know what wood to burn to get the most band for your buck.
Not all firewood is created equal. Some burn slowly, some burn fast. Some smoke and others crackle and pop. So, what’s the difference?
Freshly cut wood is not what you want. Logs that have been around for less than six months produce less heat. Ou'll go through this wood quickly and not be very warm! Not to mention that this is the wood that pops and sparks making a very smokey which is a fire hazard. This is often referred to as 'juicy' or 'green' wood as it has not had the chance to dry out completely.
How do you determine if a log is 'juicy' or 'green'? It's so simple! Whack pieces of firewood together. The dry logs will have an almost musical ringing sound while green wood makes a dull thud.
Another wood to steer clear of is pine or other evergreen wood. Evergreens contain a sticky sap called pitch. This is another wood that snaps crackles and pops. Dangerous! The sap also vaporizes in fire’s heat, rises in the chimney and creates creosote. Creosote in the chimney is bad.
Denser, heavier woods are the best. The denser the wood is are the more heating value they have. That is why a cord of oak – considered a premium firewood – will always cost more than a cord of cottonwood. Oak cord weight more than twice as much as the cottonwood and also offer that much more heating value.
Look at it this way. A ton of “seasoned” cottonwood will provide the exact same heating value as a ton of “seasoned” oak, but it takes a lot more cottonwood to add up to a ton. This also means a lot more trips to the wood pile. Other dense woods are hedge, hickory, locust, hackberry and ash.
Dense woods also the highest British Thermal Units (BTUs). High BTUs mean high, intense heat. Keep in mind though that these woods are more difficult to ignite. Lighter woods (silver maple, elm and cottonwood) are less dense and ignite much faster and thus can be good as a starter wood. However, they give off less heat and burn faster. This is okay if you want a quick warming fire or short fire that will burn out before you go to bed.
Now go have a cozy warm fire and enjoy the season!