If you want your wood-burning fireplace to burn cleaner and more efficiently, using seasoned firewood ranks high in importance. If you are not familiar with what this type of wood is, the term “seasoned” simply means dried. According to the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), using seasoned firewood can actually improve the performance of your fireplace and chimney. Building a fire with freshly-cut, wet wood can create smoke and odor problems and promote the rapid accumulation of large creosote deposits, which are the main cause of chimney fires. Shopping for seasoned firewood can be tricky because you do not always get sufficiently dry wood. We at The Mad Hatter often suggest to our customers to find a trustworthy local firewood cutter to be sure the wood you buy has been dried or to cut their own firewood and season it themselves through proper storage. Now is the perfect time to start thinking about seasoning your firewood so it will be ready to use in the upcoming fireplace season. We have some tips on seasoning firewood we would like to share with you to help you properly dry and store your fuel.
Cut each piece of wood to the same length.
A uniform length makes the firewood easier to store. Consider the size of your firebox when determining the right length. In general, firewood should be about three inches shorter than the width or length of the firebox.
Before stacking, split the wood.
Splitting the wood in advance of stacking it improves the drying process by exposing more of the wood to the air.
Check the moisture content of the firewood.
You will want to note the amount of moisture in the wood before drying it. You want the wood to reach a moisture content of 20% to be sure it is properly seasoned. To measure the exact water content in wood, you can use a moisture meter, which can be found for around $25 at a hardware store. Checking the moisture content each month will let you know if you are properly seasoning your firewood.
Stack the wood in alternate directions by using a criss-cross pattern.
Using this stacking pattern creates better air circulation, which helps for faster drying.
Ensure your firewood is stored off the ground.
To keep the bottom of your wood pile from getting wet and absorbing moisture, build a storage shed or other structure that can keep the wood at least six inches away from the ground.
Cover the top of the pile, but leave the sides open to allow air to flow through freely.
When building your storage shed, be sure to include a roof. A simple lean-to structure with a roof and a floor is all you will need. You can also cover your wood pile with a tarp, however, leave the sides of the pile uncovered as the tarp can trap moisture inside. You can remove the tarp when it is warm and sunny, which will speed up the drying process.
Store your wood for at least six months to a year.
The best way of knowing your wood is properly seasoned and dry enough to burn effectively is to wait at least six months before using it as firewood. This is why spring is the perfect time to start seasoning your firewood.
If you have any questions about seasoning your firewood, contact The Mad Hatter today. We are happy to teach you more about optimizing your fireplace fuel supply.