Planning for a cozy warm fireplace in the winter begins when the weather is HOT!
Ideally, firewood should be dried or “seasoned” until the moisture content is less than 20%. If the moisture content is higher, it’s difficult to light the fire and also difficult to keep a good fire going. In addition, instead of the tars and creosote being efficiently burned, they end up lining the inside of the flue pipes and chimney, as well as blackening the glass windows in a fireplace insert.
When wood is properly cut and stacked right away, mold has less opportunity to establish itself. Piling unseasoned firewood can allow mold to spread throughout the logs. This mold is released into the home’s environment when firewood is brought inside.
Firewood can be verified to be “seasoned” by several methods:
• Radial checking. Cracks and checks will be visible in the end grains that radiate out from the heartwood to the sapwood. However, these cracks and checks will appear before the wood is completely seasoned, so keep reading!.
• Color. The wood fades and darkens, changing from white or cream to yellow or gray as it dries. Different species have different colors and shades; however, the wood should not look “new” and shiny
• Smell. Smell the exposed, fresh-cut surface of the wood. Seasoned wood should not have a pleasant, sappy aroma or feel damp and cool.
• Loose bark. The bark will slowly begin to separate from the wood and fall away as the wood dries. If the bark is still attached to the wood, peel it back with a sharp knife and check the cambium. If the cambium is green, so is the wood.
• Listen. Bump wo pieces of wood together. Seasoned wood will sound hollow and wet wood will sound dull.
• Lift. Dry wood weighs significantly less than green wood of the same species.
• Burn. Seasoned firewood ignites and burns easily; however, wet wood is tough to light and whistles in the fire.