The wood you choose as a homeowner will affect the efficiency of your fires, and the functionality of your fireplace’s chimney. Firewood advised for use in any wood-burning appliance (fireplace, stove, etc.), is well-seasoned wood, as opposed to greener, more freshly cut wood. Due to the amount of sap or water you may experience more smoke, more rapid creosote buildup, and potential chimney/flue fires.

While avoiding having any water-content in firewood is impossible, the percentage of water-content makes a difference. Seasoned wood is wood that has been stored for up to 6 months or more, allowing the water to evaporate (which means it needs to be covered – more on that later).

Why less water? The energy of the combustion, or the fire, is best spent burning the wood, not drying it out, while attempting to burn it, not to mention all of the sap and other moisture released, which will stick to the flue system (creosote alert). The more water in the wood, the cooler and less efficient the burn will be, and you really have wasted a chunk-of-change in the process. Those waterways in the wood need to be dried out a bit before you can make good use of the wood, so step one to good firewood is well seasoned firewood.

The CSIA gives some helpful tips to determining the readiness of the wood you might be looking to pick-up:

“Well seasoned firewood generally has darkened ends with cracks or splits visible, is relatively lightweight, and makes a clear “clunk” when two pieces are beat together. Green wood on the other hand is very heavy, the ends look fresher, and it tends to make a dull “thud” when struck” (CSIA – Firewood Testing).

The best route may be to simply purchase the wood well-in-advance of when you intend to burn in the fireplace, stove, or other wood-burning appliance (say the Spring, as opposed to the Fall). Get it covered and keep it off of the ground, let the sun and wind do the work of dehumidifying the wood for your intended use. The idea is to keep it covered, but to keep moisture out, so a wood-shed, or even a tarp. You may want (need) to remove the tarp on sunny-days to allow minimal moisture to be present (remember you are drying the wood out).

Let’s say you decide to burn the green wood anyways – have the chimney checked pretty shortly after, as it is fairly likely you will have built up creosote quickly from the lack of efficiency and heat of the burn.

Okay, so you have the whole “well-seasoned wood” concept down, but what wood should be used?

The dryness of the wood is really the most critical piece here – treated woods for construction (decks, landscaping, or other alike uses), are not ideal. Inhaling wood-treatments is not going to benefit the health of anyone, so stay away from these woods. Additionally, let’s avoid painted woods while we are at it – we do not think this needs much more explaining (is the paint on that wood lead paint, let alone any other paint? Yea, not ideal).

The density of the wood also plays a role in the longevity of your burn, so the lighter wood makes for great starters and shorter burns, while the denser wood is more ideal for the cooler weather where less trips to the wood-pile is a more preferred method to fire-enjoyment.

This should get you headed in the right direction when it comes to the wood you decide to burn in the fireplace, stove, or other wood-burning appliance through the season. Please adhere to the industry recommendation (both the CSIA, and the National Fire Protection Association) of having an annual chimney sweep and inspection performed prior to use (more if wood is burned fairly often).

If you are looking for a place to purchase seasoned wood, one of our Outfitters would suggest:

Bark Farmers
2460 N Arlington Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46218

(317) 545-2275

Brick + Ember Outfitters believes in the value of educating its homeowners, allowing them to make empowered decisions toward the safety and functionality of their chimneys and ultimately their homes. Please do not hesitate to reach out to Brick + Ember Outfitters with any questions about your chimney or masonry needs!